Thursday, December 9, 2010
Faery Tale Adventure: Clueless
So my dying father, the Master at Arms, entrusted me with a quest to save the kingdom from an evil necromancer. And I really, really would like to do that. Real bad. But I just don't know how. This game world is huge, sparsely populated, and devoid of any clues except a few that have to do with the uses of various magic items. I've slaughtered countless ogres, goblins, skeletons, and phantoms, built up my bravery and vitality to epic levels, and yet I have no idea what to do next.
There are plenty of places that look like they ought to have stuff. For instance, the manual makes a big deal about how the land's champion, the Red Knight, has gone missing. In my wanderings, I came across the Red Knight's castle. Now if I was designing a CRPG--I'm just saying--I would have maybe put some clues in the castle about what happened to the Red Knight. The player could use the clues to go on some kind of mission--call it a "quest"--to find the missing hero and perhaps make the world a bit of a better place. I might even have these clues delivered by a computer-controlled character (call him an "NPC"; God, I'm on a roll) who could "talk" to the player. Is anyone writing this down?
Instead, the Red Knight's castle is empty, and so I move on. But at least the castle isn't the only exciting location in the game! No, sir. Here's a "Great Stone Ring" in which nothing happens, as far as I can tell:
And here's a crypt in the middle of a graveyard. I had to unlock the door and everything! But, true to the game's form, there was nothing inside the crypt:
The towns are devoid of residents except for the occasional innkeeper. When I finally found this beggar on a bridge, I wanted to kiss him. But all he did was tell me what green jewels do (they create light). It's like I started the game too late, the evil necromancer has already won, and I'm one of the last five people alive.
Now, granted, I haven't explored every nook of the game yet. The world, as I said, is quite large--the game manual even brags about it--and I'm sure there are a lot more empty buildings to discover. But this game, like Dungeon Master, has a fondness for the first level of Mazlow's hierarchy. First, you get hungry, several times per day, and you need to buy food to stave off starvation. As far as I can tell, there's no way to carry food with you--you have to buy it and eat it immediately.
Second, your character gets tired. If you happen to have handy bed nearby, you can walk on to it and your tired PC will take a nap. But if you can't find a bed for a while, well, old Julian will just decide to drop down and go to sleep wherever he happens to be. Usually, this results in some ogres coming along and pounding him to death while he remains in what is essentially a coma. Unlike hunger, the game gives you no indication that your character is getting tired; he just suddenly faints in the middle of a field.
Both of these factors discourage wandering off over the horizon to seek adventure, because you want to ensure you're within reasonably proximity to the nearest bed and food supply.
On the good side, I've gotten really good at combat. On the bad side, combat simply involves wielding a weapon and frantically waving it at the closest enemy until it dies. No real tactics to it. Each kill builds your bravery, which makes the next kill easier. In a way, it's a predecessor of the "action RPG" genre like Diablo in which combat is based partly on statistics but partly on how fast you can click--only without the interesting variety of attacks or quality of animation that make modern action RPGs tolerable.
As I mentioned in my last post, if you die--something that hasn't happened in a while--a little fairy comes along and decides whether to raise you. The odds of this happening are based on your luck statistic. If it fails, Julian is permanently dead, and his younger brother, Phillip, takes on the quest. I assume that if Phillip dies, Kevin is your last chance. I thus can't quite decide if it's "cheating" to reload after I die, but I don't feel like building up another character from scratch. Whether the other brothers ever get a role in the game should Julian survive, I have no idea.
Finally, the equipment selection is a little lame. There are, from what I can tell, four weapons: dirk, mace, sword, and bow. There is no armor. There are a handful of magic items and sundries--keys of different colors, magic skulls that kill all the enemies on the screen, vials that heal you, totems that show you an area map, and so on--that you get from various dead creatures, sort of like Ultima II. The uses of the magic items are something of a mystery, but as we've seen, the random NPCs give you clues, and I've figured out others by just messing with them.
I can't imagine any reason to keep playing this game except the vague hope that a story will start to coalesce and the game will turn out to do something unusual and interesting with the ol' necromancer-taking-over-the-kingdom plot. I'm going to give it a few more hours to see if I can stumble on anything that has to do with the game's main quest. Hints always welcome.
Does anyone know if this game originally came with a map? I tried to search for one, but I only looked at it briefly before I decided it was full of spoilers.