Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Game 76: The Dark Heart of Uukrul (1989)

I'm not sure we're fighting this dragon in the most efficient manner possible

At this point in my career as a semi-professional CRPG player (hey, the $250 I get each year from Google isn't much, but it's something), I like it when games show me something new, even if the game itself otherwise isn't perfect. The Dark Heart of Uukrul opens with a delightful character-creation process reminiscent of Ultima IV, but even better because it applies to all four characters.

You play the game with a fighter, a paladin, a priest, and a mage--no sweating over class choices in this game. For each party member, the game asks you to envision the character and answer a series of conceptual questions based on your profile. The answers determine your starting statistics. I decided to play the exercise straight rather than game the system for the attributes I wanted. I envisioned:

  • Gliglois the Fighter: A charismatic, dextrous, enthusiastic fighter of medium to thin frame--much more like Westley in The Princess Bride or Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood than, say, Conan the Barbarian. He likes fighting, but not particularly killing. He sees swordplay as an art and became an adventurer for the fun of it.

  • Invictia the Paladin: The classic lawful good drill sergeant. Think Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5. She marches into battle with a straight back and a grim expression, focused always on doing her duty as efficiently and effectively as possible. She adheres to a strict set of virtues and habits and never deviates. She's tall and strong with a dark shock of hair topping a head that is often bloodied, but ever unbowed.

  • Plenamujer the Cleric: A voluptuous and licentious woman, Plenamujer would be an atheist if she could. Every fiber of her being tells her to be a thief--and she's clever and skilled enough to do it--except, for reasons she's never been able to figure out, the gods speak to her, and give her holy powers that she never asked for and doesn't want. With every healing spell she casts, she curses the ability and the god that gave it to her--a rage that she channels into her wild, unpredictable combat.

  • Prufrock the Magician: A portly fellow of middle-age, with a bald spot in the middle of his hair, Prufrock used to entertain children with sparkles and disappearing tricks. He would have been happy doing that forever. But he was good--too good--and someone important took notice. Now roped into this suicidal dungeon crawl, he's terrified of the dark, terrified of monsters, terrified of...well, everything.

It worked: with these descriptions in mind, I was able to answer the questions quite well. Here's  one for each character; see if you can guess how I answered.

 
Answers: 3, 1, 1, 1

Going against type led to some consequences: I ended up with a fighter who's not particularly strong, and a priest whose lowest score is in "piety." Things worked out better for Invictia and Prufrock. I'll play with this group and see how I do. Perhaps Plenamujer will discover some faith during her journey and Prufrock will discover some courage.

Plenamujer is the worst priestess ever.

The setup offers a familiar dungeon-crawling backdrop. The underground city of Eriosthe, constructed by the fabled Ancients in the Kalurn mountains, was once a shining beacon of peace and prosperity. But one of the Ancients, Uukrul, grew corrupt and powerful, and he drove away his colleagues, leaving the city to fall into darkness. Now, hundreds of years later, Uukrul's evil threatens to spill out of the underground and into the "Western Lands." The Lands' council raised a party of councilors, led by Mara (presumably before her ascension as a Divine), and sent them into the dungeon. They never returned.

The Council concluded--and try to follow this logic--that their mistake was sending a party that was actually powerful. Somehow, this "played into Uukrul's hands." They decided what they really needed to do was get a party of rank amateurs. Noting that my four characters are "the most promising of all the Aspirants," they intend to smuggle us into Eriosthe through a secret entrance and let us develop our skills once we're already there. Our only advantage is four "soul amulets," which will facilitate resurrection and allow access to secret refuges in the city.

Resurrection takes place, apparently, at the "Mausoleum." This feels like a trick.

The game begins with the party tossed into the starting dungeon with a few initial resources. Nothing to do from there but to explore. The exploration is fun. As a dungeon crawl, the game is a lot more like Pool of Radiance than Wizardry or Dungeon Master. You have frequent special encounters with numerous options, and when combat begins, the game switches to a top-down iconographic display. There are proper shops, too:

Gliglois is going to want that enchanted mail. Invictia will likely let him have it.

As you can see, the graphics are quite good. The dungeon corridors are mostly empty--it will be a while (Ultima Underworld?) before our dungeons seem like real places with unique sub-zones--but the graphics for monsters, shops, and special encounters are some of the best in the era.

Weapons occasionally break, but can be repaired here.

The encounters, which offer some opportunities for role-playing and logic, differentiate this game from a lot of dungeon-crawlers. Even something as banal as finding a secret door might present numerous options: listen at the door, trace its outline with a staff, search for a mechanism to open it, or shove on it. Here are a few random screenshots of these special encounters so far:

I asked about Uukrul and he attacked me.

In most games, a door is just a door.

Prufrock begged Gliglois not to press it, but he did anyway, and we found a little bungalow with some treasure.

On the wall, a little map indicating a secret area. I found it off to the east.

And even when you're not in an encounter, the game provides fun and descriptive visual cues about the various areas you enter. Touches like this make for a good CRPG experience.

You don't often find this level of detail outside of text adventures.

Most games would just have the door open. This game feels more like there's a dungeon master behind it.

At first, I thought the town was a bit nonsensical. After all, who would expect to find robust commerce and trade in the middle of a pit of evil? But then again, it's most CRPGs that are unrealistic, not Uukrul. In the average high-fantasy game, the moment you leave a city or town, you're in amidst tribes and animals. But orcs and trolls have to get their weapons and armor from somewhere, meaning they must have trades and jobs and a functioning economy--just a tightly controlled one.



At several points during the game, you encounter sanctuaries that you're allowed to enter because of your magic amulets, although the game throws a copy protection at you. I found images of the amulets online that allow me to crack the code:

Entering a sanctuary with a soul amulet.

Sanctuaries give you the opportunity to rest and heal, store items, and teleport to other sanctuaries in the dungeon, which makes travel less of a nightmare than in, say, Bloodwych, when returning to the potion shop meant a good half hour of maze-crawling. I think you also need to visit a sanctuary to level up.

So far, I can't say I'm in love with the combat system. It's turn-based and tactical, which I do like, but a little too cumbersome. Each combat turn proceeds in two phases: a movement phase, in which you can move characters exactly one square, and an attack phase. in which you can swing  your weapons and cast spells and such. The whole thing is slower than it needs to be. I prefer the "Gold Box" style in which movement and combat take place simultaneously, and both characters and enemies can make multiple moves. You also can't strike diagonally in this game, making it a pain in the neck to position the characters just right.

The party fights rats--yes, rats--and some kind of slime.

On the positive side, there hasn't been an overwhelming number of combats so far, and enemies have the decency to flee when they're outnumbered, rather than making you shuffle across the map, one turn at a time, to kill every last bat. I just came from a game that was a little tedious for that reason. I also like the way the combat map models the corridor or room in which it's taking place.

As with many CRPGs, combat provides experience at the end. Each character gets a differing amount of experience, and I don't yet have a lock on the variables that influence this. Generally, the character who makes the most kills gets the most experience, but no one ever gets 0. I think it's possible that the game tracks all the individual actions you make in combat: moving, taking damage, dealing damage, casting spells, and awards an amount to each type of action. This is consistent with something else that I've discovered: combat isn't the only way to get experience. Characters also get it for finding treasure, finding secret doors, and I think even talking to people. (I don't always notice when it increases.) This is the most complex experience-based system that I've encountered so far.

Plenamujer killed the most bats in this combat, but Invictia still got some points without doing anything at all.

I'm not sure if the plot is going to unfold in stages, or if I'm just going to explore and get more powerful before I inevitably meet Uukrul. Evidence suggests perhaps the former. A key part of the back story involves the previous party led by Councilor Mara, and I've already encountered several inscriptions and diaries left by her group, as well as some kind of apparition instructing me to "find the frozen hearts."


I'm not sure if she's a ghost or a "sending" of her imprisoned form, but this diary I found doesn't bode well:


Here's one final twist: the game is practically roguelike in its saving. You get one save slot, and the game continually overwrites it on its own. If a character dies in combat and you don't like it, tough: it just got written to the save file. I suspect I'll be using the mausoleum quite a bit, and I'm curious to find out what happens in full-party deaths.

Despite the length of this posting, I'm still feeling my way around, so I'll cover navigation, inventory, magic and combat more in the next couple of postings. This is a rare game that I've entered with absolutely no preconceived ideas, or even knowledge of the interface, and I'm liking it a lot so far. Many of you predicted that I would.

Note: The last word in the game's title is pronounced "OOK-rull." I realize that in the matter of pronouncing the name of the game, it's difficult not to call to mind a certain 1990s TV character. When this happens, you will suppress it immediately and try to forget about it. You will not--WILL NOT!--make any jokes, references, or otherwise discuss said character in the comments; I will delete such comments immediately and ban the commenter from ever posting on my blog again. Got it? OOK-rull.



117 comments:

  1. Sounds like Orko from He-man
    Apart from him I dont know what character it sounds like :0

    the descriptions and encounter graphics look nice though.

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  2. I really enjoyed Dark Heart of Uukrul, but it's hard for me to place it in my hierarchy of old CRPGs. I couldn't beat it, I think because monsters don't respawn and I fled from too many battles to level up sufficiently (I could be wrong about this and maybe battles just got too hard for me). However, I never beat the first two Might and Magic games either and I have fond memories of those. (My high praise for The Magic Candle might come from actually beating it, suppressing any frustrations I may have had. I might also be remembering the sequel more which I think improved a few interface and gameplay issues.) I also think I found a way around the rogue-like save system in Uukrul by using multiple floppies and would restore in case of party member death.

    My fond memories of Uukrul mostly come from the unique magic system, the dungeon exploration, and the infamous puzzle that comes halfway through the game, which I actually solved on my own and felt a huge sense of accomplishment in doing so. Apparently there's another really unique puzzle near the end of the game that I never was able to get to.

    I'm pretty sure I remember that the main quest is to get 6 "items" (being vague to avoid spoilers although it's probably pretty obvious) but there are actually 8 in the game. So you can actually skip 2 of them and still beat the game, although you never know if you're skipping one of these items or some other useful treasure.

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  3. Great, thanks for that. Now I'm stuck wondering who the hell your talking about.

    This game looks great so far. Nice gfx for the era for sure.

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    1. Ahh I get it now... Cmon.. not any jokes?

      I remember watching that with my folks all the time.
      Wonder what JW is up to nowadays..

      Kinda glad this isn't full of bad jokes and puns about such a cheesy ;) show

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  4. "The floor is made from pyramid shaped blocks of crystal, cleverly stacked together to provide a smooth surface."

    Mathematically, this implies that the pyramids must be square pyramids, as opposed to tetrahedra, which cannot pack space.

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    1. That tripped me up a bit, too. I'm not really sure what they were going for there.

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    2. Maybe they meant some of them were upside down.

      Two layers -- one right side up, the other upside down. The upside down ones are in between the points of four right side up ones.

      If it's crystal, it's transparent, so you can see it if you squint.

      That's what I think anyway.

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    3. Or perhaps by "pyramid" they meant "triangle". Wouldn't be the first time I've seen it... Don't know how clever you could get when tesselating triangles though. =)

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  5. I haven't the slightest clue who the TV character in question is. It's definitely not from Babylon 5, though :D

    Loved the Susan Ivanova reference btw.

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  6. You know, I usually just think You-Krull like the old movie. I never made the particular tv reference you did until you mentioned it and I thought about it for awhile. Thanks for that. :P

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    1. Trying so hard to resist the obvious joke that could go here... LOL. I hope that doesn't count as a bannable oblique reference. :^)

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    2. Without CA's mentioning no reference would have been thought up. I know because I don't remember reference to the character appearing in comments until this page.

      Also, please, let me not be banned! I avoided references in my reply to the comment that got erasesd with it that did. Man...

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    3. There were references in other posts.

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    4. I read a terrible book named Krull, based on some old movie. That was the movie that didn't know that a glaive is a polearm, not a throwing star.

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    5. I remember Krull... Great movie when I was 8 or so...

      I remember I had the Atari game Krull.... (OLD atari...2600 I think?)

      Had the spider web and a bunch of nonsense..
      They really set the bar low for Atari games back then.. Too bad too, because it killed the system.

      Delete
    6. Imagine how cool the movie would have been if that weapon had been a pole-arm instead of a throwing star. When he hucked it at things, instead of magically spinning in the air, it could have magically kept jabbing at them.

      Delete
  7. You had to choose "Become an atheist" and Valuing your life over your afterlife... FOR YOUR PRIEST! :)

    No wonder! ;) lol

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    1. Yeah, that's caused some problems. Her invocations fail every time.

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    2. The priest in my party has 14 piety, and the invocations still seem to fail most of the time. Getting smited is a lot of fun. Ufthu is such a joker.

      --Eino

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    3. Okay, I rerolled a priest with a higher piety, and Ufthu still smacks her down about half the time. What a jackass.

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  8. You'll be pleased to know that your character descriptions were sufficient to determine the appropriate answers. A fun mini-puzzle.

    I figured orcs got their weapons from the evil overlord or raiding, rather than an economy per se.

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  9. I am slightly disappointed that you didn't print the classic screen where you must chose between Pillage, Plunder, Rape and Burn for your Paladin. But maybe females don't get that choice?

    From a power gaming POV you probably picked the worst fighter. I found low STR to be rather frustrating when my guys couldn't use certain weapons due to STR restrictions.

    The most annoying thing about the combat IMO was that your own guys only have one movement point, while most enemies can move in circles around you. There is also a total lack of missiles weapons. I suspect this is all to make up for poor AI, though, to give the monsters a fighting chance.
    But all in all I thought the combat was good. Slightly better than Magic Candle, but not quite as good as Demon's Winter.

    A tip: lack of food can be a problem before your priest learns how to Create Food, so don't search too much, but press onwards, to avoid starvation.

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    1. Yeah, that wasn't a choice I had for the female paladin.

      My party was wiped out, and it's going to be tough to continue from this point. I'm thinking about re-rolling with some slightly modified statistics.

      Thanks for the food tip. I did waste a lot of time in the initial stages and had to use most of my gold to buy food from the shop. When I re-start, since I've already mapped, I should go a bit quicker.

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    2. Plunder of course. I mean, once they are dead they don't need it.

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  10. Aaaah... Uukrul! It got very favorable reviews in German game mags of the time, and I loved and still love the style of the graphics. I had once started to play it, but hadn't the time to immerse myself into it... Now I can lean back and just read about the experiences of CRPG Addict. Cool!

    So, thanks again for this blog. It is a real pleasure to read!

    --Gen.Error

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  11. I (re)read the manual just yesterday. I thought the explanation of giving the quest to save the day to complete newbies was rather good, actually. There's certainly effort there, and in a RPG context, it makes perfect sense. The heroes level up to godhood so quickly in RPGs that fighting through a dungeonful minions on the way to the boss is sure to count as a surprise attack.

    I also thought that Mara's story set the stage in a good evocative manner, and seemed to hand out some clues about the game itself. Some of that content seems to be in the game, judging by the screenshots. The way the prayers were explained (some less obvious than others) was also a nice touch.

    According to the manual Sanctuaries give the option to back up your saves in case something goes terribly wrong, but it is advised to play the game as designed - with permanent death. I played this game a bit ten years ago, and was impressed, but I think I was exhausted for CRPGs having just (barely, with spoilers for the final dungeon) finished Wizardy 6 and didn't get all that far. You certainly don't seem a guy that gets that sort of "genre exhaustion" though.

    There was one thing that particularly turned me off, it'll be interesting to see if you run into it as well. It's not major, but it combined with the exhaustion to make me stop playing back then.

    --Eino

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    1. I agree: it's not too bad. I could see how it would make sense for a party of nobodies to slip in unseen. I skimmed the manual before playing, and now I have to go back and give it a thorough re-read. I had missed the bit about backups in sanctuaries. No offense to the developers, but I think I'm going to use them.

      Let me know when I reach the thing that you're talking about in the last paragraph.

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    2. I was about to say; if they are watching for a group of heavily armed warriors, who walk like fighters, who the very air crackles around with power....
      ....they probably aren't going to notice Joe-bob, Mary-sue and Fred.

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    3. Also, if you die, they can find a lot more weak warriors around to replace you with.

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    4. High-level wizard makes invisibluh.

      Low-level wizard makes rat food.

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    5. Ookay, it seems that the thing that turned me off last time doesn't actually exist. My recollection was that I was upset about the character descriptions in the Guild when you have to resort to hiring new adventurers. The descriptions were too tongue-in-cheek compared to the tone set by the manual and effort spent in role-playing the character creation questionnaire.

      Except they aren't.. I found my old save from the old PC I played the game on. I had three dead characters, with only the mage left. So I hauled myself back to the Mausoleum to get rid of the bodies and went to the Guild. This time around the character descriptions seemed pretty good. Concise, giving an impression of a type of adventurer they were. I guess I was really just upset about losing.

      In my current game, I faced some giant spiders that were too tough for me to handle. I lost my paladin, but ran away and was able to resurrect her. The experience and vitality cost seems steep but the challenge and atmosphere from the threat of death is certainly exciting.

      I wonder though if there comes a point where several resurrections leave a character so crippled it's better to retire them, and recruit a fresh face from the Guild. I don't think you can see their stats before recruiting them.. hope they level at least a little as you progress in the game, I certainly wouldn't want to level up a recruit all the way from the first skill level..

      --Eino

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    6. Yeah, I thought the character descriptions in the guild were pretty good. I almost wished I could just create my party from there.

      I have to admit, since restarting I've been abusing the restore-backup-from-last-sanctuary option much more than I should. Because of it, I haven't had enough character deaths to worry about resurrection decay yet.

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  12. Thanks for helping with the pronunciation! ;-)

    Remember that you can make backups of your save game in each Sanctuary, which can be restored from the Game Utilities menu (which therefore cannot be considered cheating, imho).

    There are some really tricky puzzles in this game, so be sure to make good notes about everything you encounter.

    Hope you'll enjoy the game until the end (which, btw. will not be a simple boss fight against Uukrul! :-) ). I still consider it one of the best C-RPGs I've ever played.

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    1. It involves all your party members pulling their pants up reeeal high.

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    2. I love how no one assumed I was serious. Being reminded of that character's existence is like losing The Game.

      Delete
    3. So, was it one of those shows that could have been good without him or one of those shows that was horrible but for the life of you you couldn't stop watching? Or did you just watch the character a few times and hats him as much as you say?

      .... you don't have to talk about it if you are uncomfortable...

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    4. Had no idea that he voiced the sonic the hedgehog cartoon.

      I wonder if that contributed to my rage towards it.

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    5. ...thanks, I just lost the game.

      Still trying to figure out what you are talking about.

      Delete
    6. CRPG addict do not read
      @canageek
      V'z cerggl fher gurl ner gnyxvat nobhg n fubj pnyyrq Snzvyl Znggref. Ba gur fubj gurer vf n ernyyl areql xvq anzrq Fgrir Hexry

      Delete
    7. Everyone is just lucky I cant put an embedded image in the comments on blogger. I would have thrown some meme pictures I found with him in them. Though if that was possible I would have done it in earlier posts when I eluded to him and ruined the "riddle" of who he is.

      Gotta say I enjoy this kind of silliness. I guess I am a silly man, as my wife often says I am.

      Delete
  13. As I recall, the Sanctuaries allowed you to back up in case of party death, as Evktalo pointed out above... I remember when I played this twenty years ago sometimes being desperate trying to reach the next Sanctuary after a hard fight.

    I don't think the game was designed to be played with "permanent death", though ("permanent death" as in reroll-a-new-party-in-case-of-defeat). If you want, you can think of Sanctuaries as "checkpoints": I might be wrong but in case of party death you only had to replay what you did after the last Sanctuary.

    I beat this game back in the day and I think the only thing that sometimes frustated me was the combat system, despite the autocombat feature for the easy fights.

    Might be my nostalgia, but I think the puzzles in the game were great and that exploring the city of Eriosthe was a really rewarding experience. By the way, I think the lack of sound adds a lot to the immersion too.

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    1. Thanks, Caron. I had missed that option in sanctuaries and I already lost one party. I haven't encountered any puzzles yet.

      I'm not sure that the lack of sound is a positive, but since I typically turn off the sound of most games of the era, I don't feel like I'm missing much.

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    2. Well... maybe behind my judgment on the lack of sound lies the fact that my PC in that day didn't have a sound card but an internal beeper, hehe.

      Delete
  14. Ah yes, I meant (and assumed) permanent death of single character, not full party. I would assume that if the whole party dies, you're allowed to start from your last save. Full (party) permanent death doesn't really work if the game content is set, and not randomly/procedurally generated like in roguelikes.

    --Eino

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  15. This game looks very good. I like the differentiation experience system. I have not seen anything like that before in a CRPG. The restriction on classes is nice and would save me from wasting time. I like the Ultima style character creation with the Goldbox manner of combat, though I too think that one square per turn is very slow.

    I like that there are shops in the dungeons. It reminds me of Wizardry 7 of the Pyramid of Dane where there are priests who will sell stuff to you and a full magic shop on the second level. Anything that convinces yoou that you are in another society is good.

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  16. Now you have me torn between defying your totally serious threat to ban, and leaving the other readers to try and figure out what TV character your talking about.

    For now I'll just check my comments on some previous posts for clues.

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  17. I have never been a big TV watcher- in fact, most of my life I have made an effort to keep the damn thing just plain turned off and have been glad of it. During the late 90's and all through the 90's I never watched TV at all and damned glad of it, so I have NO bloody idea who this character you are speaking of might be. No real fear of being banned here. I have learned of some shows in retrospect- like there was a Xena show, and apparently a Hercules show, so in my decision to not watch TV I figure I dodged a bullet.

    I remember trying to play this game once and my memory is W-A-Y different from what you are seeing in this blog. I had basic graphics- almost damned ASCII. Mostly amber only. I quit when it came to trying to figure out the bloody code on that fracking wheel- Jehayzuz Christo, what a shite-storm.

    Looking forward to seeing how well you do in this version- it's like I played an alternate universe version of the game where Earth's computer graphics never even evolved to the EGA stage.

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    1. I learn about tv shows via accident. I turn it on to watch football on occasion but that's about it. Xena and Hercules are positively awesome compared to the Real Housewives and Jersey Shore.

      That said, The Wire, Gavin & Stacy and The Killing (Danish version) are all brilliant.

      Delete
  18. "Ivanova is always right.
    I will listen to Ivanova.
    I will not ignore Ivanovas recommendations.
    Ivanova is God.
    It this ever happens again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out."

    I loved your character descriptions, by the way. Especially the cleric.

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    1. "Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me."

      Delete
    2. "No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow."

      Delete
    3. Classic stuff! Now I want to pull out my box sets and start from "The Gathering."

      Delete
  19. I loved the - I guess - "infamous" puzzle too. I solved it with a little help from my grandmother.

    As far as I can recall, I played for a while after that puzzle, but never finished it.

    The infamous puzzle is so ingrained in my head that I wrote some of the puzzle elements on a whiteboard at work to demonstrate unusual game puzzles.

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    1. Wow. I look forward to seeing what this is. NO HINTS, though!

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    2. OK. Here's a not-a-hint: My grandmother was about 90 at the time she helped me with The Puzzle. She'd seen the computer of course, but had never touched it.

      That's how atypical The Puzzle is... everyone who remembers that puzzle will know why she could help a teenaged boy solve it.

      ...and soon, so will you :)

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    3. That's a great story. I hope I make it to the puzzle (and perhaps even beyond!)

      --Eino

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  20. Well, I fired up a party and played a bit. Feels good so far. Did reach the stores but not the mausoleum yet, though it's surely nearby. I had some interesting fights, one with a wild wolf that got some of my characters down to critical, saved by paladin's laying on hands. Quite exciting to see that hit point bar go down, down, down. I also like the fleeing opponents. It gives the combats a little more "story".

    I hope this time I can do the game justice and not quit so early (I don't think I played very much further than the town last time). I doubt I can keep up the pace with the blog though.. I'm not sure if I want to read the future postings before I've played more!

    --Eino

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    1. I've decided I'll read the posting until the text or screenshots show something I haven't reached in the game yet, and then stop. I made it to halfway to the second posting now. I'm very much craving to play more!

      --Eino

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    2. I can't imagine that you won't overtake me at some point.

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  21. I don't get the reference, but I found this very funny thing: http://esolangs.org/wiki/Ook!

    and this to understand where it comes from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfuck

    Oh and by the way, Dark Heart of Uukrul looks great, I'm looking forward to read the coverage.

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  22. I like how old games were willing to experiment with UIs. Modern games, while better, all seem focused on being as minimalist as possible, instead of giving the player lots of information on screen.

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  23. Is it just me, or is this strongly reminiscient of Demon's Winter?

    Is it by the same developers?

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    1. No. Different developers (they only made this one game) and different publisher (I think this was the only CRPG Brøderbund ever released).
      But I too noted the similarities when I played Uukrul last year.

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    2. I'm curious what parts remind you of Demon's Winter. I don't really see it. I suppose the combat is a LITTLE like it, in that the combat screen is shaped by the surrounding area and it's iconographic.

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    3. The praying.
      Although in DW it's much more hard core.

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  24. Also; a Replay by Game Informer of Might and Magic 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPjJArAeVNk&feature=plcp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That replay is horrible. They don't even know how to play the game, and all they do is make lame jokes I could have made.

      Delete
    2. So what does a replay of MM3 have to do with Dark Heart of Uukrul?

      Delete
    3. I posted that before the Addict put up his new posting message, as something of general interest to CRPG addicts.

      Delete
    4. This wouldn't be in violation of the new message anyway. I didn't say NO unrelated content, just no unrelated commercial content.

      Delete
  25. Some links that are actually relevant to Dark Heart of Uukrul:

    Saintus' abandoned playthrough:
    http://crpgrevisited.blogspot.se/2011/12/dark-heart-of-uukrul-revisited.html

    Crooked Bee's completed Let's Play: http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/lets-play-dark-heart-of-uukrul-dead-and-done.54028/

    Interview with the Uukrul developers:
    http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=8320

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Petrus. I'll try to remember to check these after I win.

      Delete
    2. Awesome interview with the developers. Thanks a lot for the link, Petrus.

      Delete
  26. I loved this one. I think you're in for a great time. While Magic Candle is an expansive traveller's adventure, Uukrul is one of the most hardcore definitions of 'dungeon delver' you've ran into so far. I know Dungeon Master also is a pleasant simulation of something similar, but as an oldschool p&p rpg dungeon master, no game thus far screams "megadungeon" as much as this.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I see you got 3 unfavouable reactions to this post.
    I bet someone didn't like you "LARPing" your characters. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew Prufrock sounded familiar! I just couldn't place the name.

      Delete
    2. All four are poems. I even included bits of the poems in the descriptions of the characters. My readers are Philistines.

      Delete
    3. And that reminds me: I'm getting rid of those dumb "reaction" buttons. They don't do anything for anyone.

      Delete
    4. 1) Start basing your names on WWI poetry or Ferlinghetti and I'll recognize them.

      2) Just change the names: "Fork" "Yellow" or "Submarine"

      Delete
    5. I wonder what kind of reactions I would get if I changed the buttons to "Continue with this Game" and "Move on to the Next Game."

      Delete
    6. Sounds a lot more useful..

      --Eino

      Delete
    7. I have no time for poetry, sorry. Too busy playing games. Now I have even less time because I read about someone else playing games. IMO, time well spent.

      Delete
    8. Oh, I do like the "Continue" or "Move on" idea.

      Delete
    9. Addict; Nah, you should play how you want, not how we tell you to play.

      I think you should set up a bunch of buttons. "Badger" "Badger" "Badger" "Mushroom" "Snake"

      Delete
    10. How about Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock?

      Delete
    11. Well, to clarify, I don't mean that the Addict should necessarily heed the tally from "Continue"/"Go on" buttons, but it would be more interesting than the previous buttons. Maybe I shouldn't have said "useful", I wouldn't want that to govern what gets played.

      --Eino

      Delete
    12. I really need to force myself to use smiley faces.

      Delete
  28. Problem with a move on and continue button is that most people around here are very quick to push you to move on at the first sign of you having trouble. Many people push you to move on due to excitement about an upcoming game in the list. If you were to move on every time someone pushed you to you probably wouldn't have finished wasteland or had the impetus for some of your best related topics posts.

    Now all that being said the one rule you really should stick to is, have fun! Seriously just have fun and it comes out in your writing. So have fun even when the game is horrible, I remember you having fun tearing into some really bad design decisions in the past.

    Anyway if you do decide on the move on or continue button, take the voting with a grain of salt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Need a 'Go back' button as well. Looking forward to your second playthrough of Wizardry IV :)

      Delete
    2. Or the first playthrough of Psychic War!

      --Eino

      Delete
    3. Yes, I was completely kidding about that. I'm not going to put whether I stay or move on to a popular vote.

      Delete
    4. "Do I stay or do I go now" Then only have one button, labled 'yes'

      Delete
  29. I wonder is Uukrul was inspired by Myrkul?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrkul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know. That transposes the "k" and the "r." Remember: UUK-rul, not...the other thing.

      Delete
  30. I was mentally pronouncing Uukrul correctly from the start, and it took me about five minutes to figure out what the heck you were talking about. It probably 'helped' that I've never seen an episode.

    ReplyDelete
  31. UUkrul was and STILL IS ... THE BEST RPG EVER!!!! Nothing else comes close in terms of battle strategy, realism in terms of food management, encumbrance, equipment, monsters, puzzles, fabulous mapping engine and character development. Oh, yes...the PUZZLES. Oh so awesome! Did I say?--nothing else has ever come close. So awesome! Twenty years later and I now have my kids playing UUkrul to build brain spatial/mapping/map reading connections and strategic thingking. Too bad the authors did not leverage the UUkrul fighting/mapping/character gen/puzzle features/etc over multiple games.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I started playing this one more than twenty years ago. I could not end it as riddles and puzzles were too tough...recently a I avenged myself using a great (thanks!)walkthrouhg. Anyway, I had a great time (again) but still believe that knowing how to go on at some points and how to gather all the needed stuff is almost impossible without a map/walkthrough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I can tell you is that I didn't use one. Just map carefully and annotate each square, including those you don't understand, so you can investigate more thoroughly later.

      Delete
  33. Looks like an interesting game. I thought I should add Magic Candle to my playlist, but I kept on reading your posts and it didn't really click. With this one here, I already feel that it's going to be good. Obviously, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that your rating confirms it. 3rd place....not bad at all.
    You like different ways to get experience? You'll love Fallout. The only reason you might not love Fallout is the absence of magic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think the absence of magic would really bother me. I think I probably never played Fallout because post-apocalyptic settings depress me.

      Delete
  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you really think that would be okay just because a couple of years had passed?

      Delete
  35. I could have sworn I've commented on this one, but I can't find it. I think Uukrul may have been what led me to this blog originally (that or Pool of Radiance), looking for a little nostalgia. I don't even know how I ended up with a copy of this game, but I think my cousin (who was a bit of a hacker back then) put it on my step-mom's computer during a visit, just to have something to do. I didn't live there and dad wasn't big on computer stuff, so it was really rare for me to get a chance to play, and never for more than an hour at a time. I don't think I ever bothered to map and mostly got lost in the early levels because I could never remember from session to session what I was doing. I also don't think I realized you could cast the text-decipher spell multiple times, so there were lots of mysteries.

    That said, even 25 years later I very vividly remember aspects of this game, especially the graphics. Every time I see the player or equipment icons I get an immediate tug of desire to play. I remember saving up previous funds for the rare upgrades. The larchwood staff is a name that's stuck with me the whole time, and it's something I've searched for online when I'd forgotten the name of this game, but it's so under-represented that it never turned up anything for me. I think I also remember saving up for a flaming sword and then either not being able to use it or having it break on me quickly.

    Much of the game was mysterious then. I never made it as far as the crossword, or that would have beaten me as a kid, though it's delightful now. (My mom's a huge cryptic crossword fan; she's taught me the basics and didn't have any trouble with this one when I shared it with her.) Even now I find the rings system for the spellcasters interesting and distinctive, though it was a little mysterious to me as a kid.

    I've come back and read about this game multiple times, and of all the ones you've covered, this is the one I'm most tempted to dig up and retry at some point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fun fact: since I played The Dark Heart of Uukrul 100 games and 2.5 years ago, I've only given one other game a higher rating.

      Delete
    2. It's knocked down to the 4th place now, though.

      I loved that Rings system too. Pity there's no freaking sequel to this game. It is obviously extremely well thought out with stacks of lore covering the entire underground city of Eriosthe.

      I was hoping to see the rest of the overworld above that city. But what happened? *#$%ing creators had to act like grown-ups and leave the freaking industry to do something else.

      I just wish they'd get together for a Kickstarter project to build a sequel. I'd jam my dollars up their gullet so fast that the mint hasn't even printed them out yet.

      Delete
  36. "Note: The last word in the game's title is pronounced "OOK-rull." I realize that in the matter of pronouncing the name of the game, it's difficult not to call to mind a certain 1990s TV character. When this happens, you will suppress it immediately and try to forget about it. You will not--WILL NOT!--make any jokes, references, or otherwise discuss said character in the comments; I will delete such comments immediately and ban the commenter from ever posting on my blog again. Got it? OOK-rull."

    it's no big deal if there's a parody in the comments. chet why are you cruel? you shouldn't censor them.

    ...get it? you cruel, u cruel, ... uukrul? i'll show myself out.

    serious question, though, what harm will it bring? bad memories?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hated that show--hated the very existence of that show--but I hope it was obvious I was kidding in the post. I didn't delete anyone's post or ban them from posting again. There isn't even a mechanism to do that.

      Delete
    2. Oh. Hah. I guess that was a lie. I removed fireball's post above. That was just tongue-in-cheek, though. No malice.

      Delete
    3. Sorry for noticing so late, but
      to be honest I was asking for it there, so
      eventually got the deserved reaction and wasn't
      very much surprised. And..
      eh...I guess I learned my lesson.

      Uukrul is also the game I'm currently playing,
      really a good one I think. I can all but
      kneel before our dear addict for digging out such gems.
      Ever wanted to see if you missed out on crpg?
      Look in here.

      Delete
    4. Oh, sorry, thought it was obvious what I did there... the answer to the question lies in the first letter of each row, scnr ;)

      However I meant every word as I said. I'm having a good time with the game right now.

      I don't think you mentioned the manual back then, didn't you? It's well written in my opinion and comes with a journal of mara's expedition.

      I can't help but wonder about a few things however. A god called "fshofth"... How are you even supposed to pronounce that. The text of his(her?) last prayer seems to include some Germanic words, from ancient German or Scandinavian languages maybe. "... Du saq mishallfen, Ersan su stramanlisa du saq verhallfen,...". Or maybe they made everything up and it's just coincidence, who knows.
      Then I wonder, what's the story behind the village in this dungeon. The manual doesn't really explain it, why would anyone settle in such a place? Or maybe they're all slaves of Uukrul, but then why are they even allowed to manufacture and sell arms to strangers? And though I can shop and get healing services I get attacked by the same villagers in some parts of the shop area, it said so in the description. Not to mention the undead and other horrors wandering through this village...well I'd move away rather fast from such a place.

      Delete
    5. *SPOILERS TO The Dark Heart Of Uukrul 2: Resurrection Of Maya*
      Who said the villagers were humans?

      Delete

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