Monday, August 16, 2010
Game 22: Rings of Zilfin (1986)
When I last posted, I said I was going to try out several different games and go with the one that I took to the most strongly, so I could actually finish it. Well, none of them really did. This wasn't the fault of the games, I'm sure. I'm facing one hell of a busy week, and I was hoping for a game whose mechanics I could figure out immediately--something like another edition of Wizardry, or Might & Magic. Since none of the games fit this profile, I decided to stick with Rings of Zilfin, which was next on my list anyway.
I was excited about another SSI game--I'm eagerly awaiting the day that Pool of Radiance comes up on my list--but this game doesn't feel like an SSI offering so far. In Dungeons & Desktops (2008), Matt Barton calls Rings of Zilfin "a game intended for novices" (p. 109). Barton should try playing it without a manual--I couldn't find one anywhere. Mostly I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm trying to feel my way through it.
Let's start with what I do know. The game is notable in that it starts with a cut scene. I'm not 100% sure this is a first for CRPGs, but I honestly can't remember encountering one previously.
The story that the animated scene tells casts you in the role of Reis, an apprentice wizard from the village of Sham. One night, you awake in a cold sweat, having dreamed about hordes of goblins. You receive a telepathic warning to "run for your life." Grabbing some food and weapons, you run out the door into the woods, just in time to avoid a demonic assassin named "Dzomon," sent on behalf of a nameless master.
At this point, the introduction says, "so begins your quest...for the Rings of Zilfin." Huh? There's a hell of a "yadda yadda yadda" in there somewhere. I have no idea what the Rings have to do with Dzomon, my attempted assassination, or the quest. Maybe that becomes clearer later.
The game then tosses you onto the open road, where you can wander from town to town. Along the road, you encounter different types of mushrooms and plants (I've figured out what a few do through trial and error), pools of water that sometimes offer good benefits and sometimes poison you, and a variety of monks who give assorted clues.
At the end of the roads are various towns with different buildings that you can visit. Some of the buildings house shops, some inns, and some temples with monsters. There are also wandering townspeople. Again, the purpose seems to be to get various clues.
Occasionally, you encounter monsters. As far as I can tell, there are just two forms of attack: sword and bow, and I'm almost out of arrows. I'm not sure what purpose combat serves, since you don't seem to get experience points from your victories. There seem to be just two major statistics: endurance (damaged in combat) and fatigue (damaged by walking or running, especially if you don't rest for a night). I'm not quite sure how to restore either.
My plan right now is to keep exploring and mapping, and hope that something of a main quest becomes clear. In the meantime, I would love any clarification from anyone who has played this game--or a manual if you have one.