Times of Lore's CRPG credentials are a bit questionable. Back when I was playing (or, more accurately, trying to get out of playing) War in Middle Earth, I outlined three core characteristics that a game must have for me to consider it a CRPG.
- Non-puzzle-based inventories. This means that you have to be able to find and carry things that aren't necessary to solve a puzzle, like swords and potions and such. Adventure games have inventories, but the items are meant to solve puzzles, so they don't count.
- Character leveling and development. This refers to the accumulation of experience points, the ability to increase attributes, or other types of character improvement other than better inventories.
- Combat based at least partly on attribute-derived statistics. Whether you connect with your opponent, how much damage you do, whether you avoid your opponent's attack, and how much damage you take should be based on numbers attached to your attributes, not simply on your chosen weapon and on how fast you click the mouse.
There is no character leveling in Times of Lore, which is one of the things that annoys me most about it. I don't know if there are level-ups that accompany quests later on, but you get no experience rewards for destroying hordes of enemies. Much like Legacy of the Ancients and Questron II, I find myself running past them unless they're literally standing in my way.
Combat is based only on how fast you mash the ENTER key and whether you're facing the right direction when you do. I understand there are weapons improvements later, but those wouldn't be based on attribute-derived statistics. There are no attributes. You don't even get to name your character in this game.
That leaves inventories, and in this, the game barely sneaks by. As I mentioned in my first posting, you can find two scrolls and two potions that you can use when you need them, but you're limited to one of each. Not quite the robust inventory system you would hope for.
The game isn't completely irredeemable. There are a few decent elements. One is the inability to save anywhere except when you rest in an inn. I realize that to many of you, this isn't a "good" point, but I like games that force a certain level of difficulty and that really make you sweat when your hit points start to decrease. Boy, did I sweat today. Thanks to the map that TheAlmightyGuru linked me to on Tuesday, I was able to find the landmark that I needed to find the orc camp. I made six raids on the orc camp before I successfully obtained the urn containing the Foretelling Stones and lived to tell about it. Three times I died before I reached the urn; two more times, I got it but died before I got back to town. There was a lot of screaming, but screaming isn't necessarily bad--it makes the victory all the more sweet.
The other aspect of the game I can tolerate is the NPC dialogue system, which feeds you new keywords with each conversation and then lets you use them in dialogue with others. The only problem is, hardly anyone ever has anything to say. As you'll see if you watch the video below, I got somewhat annoyed with a peasant who knew nothing about anything.
Returning to Eralan with the urn, I was rewarded with gold from the robed figure who gave me the quest. So far, I haven't found any place (other than the inn) to spend the 371 gold pieces I've amassed, but I hope that changes soon. My benefactor has directed me to the regent's palace for the next quest.
Unfortunately, six essays before victory means that I wasn't able to amass enough material for much of a posting. I did make a video of about 4 minutes of gameplay.
You see me head out of the inn, leave town, and accost a serf on the road. I get annoyed fairly quickly with his insistence that he doesn't "know anything useful," with unfortunate consequences. Moving on, I accidentally kill another peasant after accidentally mistaking him for an orc. I spend a lot of time navigating a forest maze before finally reaching the goblin camp at 03:30. After a bit of combat, I accidentally waste a scroll and then die.
You can see in the video how difficult it is to maneuver in the game. You can't move diagonally, and there's a brief pause when you change directions, meaning that you can't move very fluidly. Monsters are a bit more agile and it makes it hard to line yourself up on their vector. Most of the time I throw my dagger, I miss.
The game is serving its purpose in providing something uncomplicated I can play while on the road. I'll stick with it until I feel I can devote enough time to getting back into Sentinel Worlds.