Evets: The Ultimate Adventure is a game I never expected: a multi-character roguelike. Are there any others? Does being multi-character disqualify it as a "roguelike"? I don't know, but damned if it doesn't look like Rogue:
The major difference is that the little smiley face represents a party of up to four, and when you encounter a foe (represented by little letters, just like Rogue and NetHack), the game suddenly goes all Wizardry in its combat options.
Evets was designed by someone named Steve Ackerman of La Habra, California, who briefly ran his own company called SAck Enterprizes. (We may thank providence he didn't have a partner named Nathan Utley.) It's a shareware game, and an opening screen solicits $10 from anyone who enjoys the game. The jury's still out on that. I had practically this entire posting written about how I can't figure out how to do anything in the game because I couldn't find a manual. I went so far as to track down one of Steve's relatives and ask him to send a message asking Steve to contact me, and then I found that the manual is in a file called Evets.MAN. Who the heck uses the MAN extension for a manual?
When I saw Evets coming up on my list, before I knew anything about it, I somehow got the idea it was about some kind of cute furry creatures. Isn't that what "Evets" sounds like? Maybe I had Ewoks on my mind. "Evets" is, of course, "Steve" in reverse--not as bad as "Werdna" but I'm still tired of this trope. In the game, "Evets" was a powerful mage who disappeared while exploring a dungeon with a fighter named Belham. Legend has it that his ghost haunts the dungeon...or could he still be alive? Either way, the dungeon is reportedly full of treasure, so there's no lack of excuses for exploring.
You create a party of up to four characters, selecting from fighter, mage, thief, and priest classes, and human, dwarf, elf, hobbit, orc, half-elf, and half-orc races. You also choose one of 10 alignments: the standard Dungeons & Dragons combinations plus an additional "amoral" alignment. At first I wasn't sure how that differs from "neutral," but then I began to realize that a neutral character tries to achieve a certain balance, while an "amoral" character is simply uninterested in concepts like good, evil, order, and chaos. I like it.
I created a basic party--Cactus Jack the fighter, Sazerack the priest, Gimlet the thief, and Darkand Stormy the mage--and headed into the dungeon. As I wrapped up for the day, I was on Level 3. This is what I can report:
- Although there are only four classes at the beginning of the game, your characters can go up before a "review board" found on the first level of the dungeon, and--for lots of gold--change their classes to any of the other original classes plus three other possibilities: ninja, samurai, ranger, and monk. The manual doesn't make it clear what the advantages of these classes are, although it does mention that they get some spell points.
- The dungeons do not appear to be random like most roguelikes. At least, the first two levels are not.
- There are rather limited number of commands while exploring. You can move, go up and down stairs, cast a spell, or use an item. There doesn't appear to be a "search" feature, which makes me wonder what the thief class really does, plus leads me to believe that there are no traps or secret doors.
- Priests and mages share the same pool of spells, but each class casts some spells easier than the other (with a lower mana cost). There are 45 spells, going up to Level 20, and your characters can cast spells corresponding to their levels. At level 1, I have Magic Missle [sic], Shield 1, and Bless 1. There are some interesting ones, like Find Stairs, Find Shop, Level Transport, and Monster Sensing.
- The dungeons don't seem to have any items in them. There is a shop at the entrance and others on various levels.
- Unlike most roguelikes, the game does not delete your saved game when you reload.
- There doesn't seem to be any food in this game.
- Monsters respawn constantly
- Both spell points and mana regenerate as you move around.
Combat is not quite as tactical as in Wizardry or even The Bard's Tale, but it's definitely more interesting than most roguelikes. You face multiple monsters, and sometimes multiple groups of monsters, in each combat. Each character has options to fight, cast a spell, use an item, parry, or flee. Some enemies have special attacks. You get the drill. On the other hand, each combat takes about three times as long as most roguelikes, and in some ways I miss the fast pace.
Monsters get quite difficult after Level 1, and this sign is fairly common...
...but the ability to reload takes some of the sting away, if simultaneously making its roguelike creds a little suspect.
While the idea of a multi-character roguelike is appealing, I confess to some skepticism about this game. I have yet to collect a single item from the dungeon floor or from a slain foe, I've seen nothing to suggest that race and alignment play any role in the game, and I can't imagine what use a thief is. It's as if the creator had some good ideas but never finished integrating them into the game. On the other hand, maybe the first few floors are just introductory and I'll find more encounters of interest on lower levels. I'll let you know.