We need to consider what the creator of the Questron and Legacy of the Ancients series has against castle guards. Was he sodomized by Beefeaters as a child? In all three games, you are forced to advance by going on murderous rampages through castles whose denizens are actively helping you. This one goes even further by actually leaving visible corpses in your wake.
Ah, my old nemesis, Locked Door, we meet again. Clearly, none of my fireball spells will do anything against you.
The game follows the general schtick of its predecessors by having only a couple of locations and forcing you to travel back and forth between them multiple times. In Legacy of the Ancients, I complained about making repeated raids on Castle Kelfor, each time picking up something that I had to take to another location to get something that would take me back to Castle Kelfor. In this game, the linear dependencies were between Castle Redstone, Rivercrest Cathedral, and Rivercrest Tomb. Let me see if I can remember the specific steps:
- In Rivercrest Tomb, I found a Moonstone Amulet that let me through a mystical barrier in Rivercrest Cathedral and speak to the "Holy One," who sold me the "Bread of Life" (basically healing potions) that made it possible to survive a long trip through the Tomb. (Later, I found a chalice that, when given to the Holy One, increased the amount of bread he was willing to sell.)
- Returning to Rivercrest Tomb, I found a Brass Key.
- The Brass Key opened a door in Castle Redstone, leading me to various treasure chests. Looting these chests roused the ire of the guards, leading to the aforementioned slaughter.
- Some of the chests in Redstone contained Iron, Brass, and Copper keys.
- The Emerald Key opened a heretofore impassable door in Rivercrest Tomb, beyond which I found the Wand of Power.
- The Wand of Power, shown to Mesron in Castle Redstone, got me elevated to "squire."
- Being a squire was enough to take the Orb of Enchantment from Castle Redstone (before, it kept saying, "Come back when you are better!").
- Bringing the Orb to Morle the Magician in Rivercrest Tombs, I was transported to the Realm of Sorcerers, the second continent.
As you can see, this required me to go back and forth between these two locations about six times, making Questron II a rare game that both is completely linear and involves a lot of backtracking.
I videoed some of the game and uploaded it below, so you can see a little of what it's like to play it.
In the video, you can see me check my inventory, enter a town, play a few hands of blackjack, check out the armor shop, buy some spells and food, get a tip at an inn, donate at a temple, enter the Tomb, and blast a few monsters with fireballs. Note how quickly my food decreases as I walk through the dungeon. Either each food unit represents, like, one Cheerio, or my character is a real glutton.
Oh, a few other notes while I'm in the mood for bullets:
- You can't just go charging down dungeon corridors by holding the arrow keys. Monsters appear very suddenly, and then can get 5 or 6 free whacks at you while the buffer clears.
- Monsters are basically indistinguishable. Yes, each one has a little icon, but all they do is hit you. There might have well have just been one creature called "monster."
- A guy in Castle Redstone sold me stat upgrades--one per level--for a lot of money, but with my knowledge of gambling, money is no object.
- In the castle was a "Hall of Maps," where I was shown screenshots of two continents and a dungeon for 1,000 gold pieces. I don't know if this means there are only two continents in the game or what.
- Possible inventory is tied to your level. Only after I became a squire did I gain the "ability" to buy "bar armor," a mule, and time sap and sonic whine spells.
So now I'm on a second continent, with a bunch of towns and stuff that seem rather the same as the first continent. Is it too much to hope that I'm halfway through the game?
Wasting time killing monsters outdoors remains pointless with the imbalanced gambling systems. But I regard this as a good thing: Honestly, I can't imagine how much I'd hate this game if I had to spend hours grinding against Vivid Fishes and Boring Shrubs (thanks!). I can't say that I haven't died a few times, but this is still fundamentally an easy game. It is devoid of complexity in mapping, tactics, puzzles, NPCs, encounters, magic, or role-playing. I understand the need for "easy CRPGs" to lure new audiences, but to me this is a huge disappointment after Pool of Radiance.