|The party makes it to Cyldane. That's as far as they'll get.|
Since starting this blog, I have played good games and bad games, games that I thought were too easy and games that I thought were too hard, games that I wanted to continue and games that I wanted to quit. But rarely have I thought what I thought while exploring this game's multi-leveled dwarven mines: this game is completely wasting my time. I was all geared up to utterly tear it apart in this next post.
It started while I was visiting the "derelict castle" at the end of my last session. The game told me that the door closed behind me and wouldn't let me out, so I'd have to find another way. Interesting challenge, I thought, but no problem--except that I wasn't counting on what would happen in a game in which the characters need to eat every 24 game hours. Ultimately in my explorations, I ran out of food and couldn't progress. I had to reload from a save point outside the castle.
During my journey through the castle, I noticed something curious: there were no enemies. There were atmospheric flashes of lightning every few steps, messages, a button puzzle, some strange encounters with ghostly armor, and this weird little thing...
...but no enemies to fight.
The dwarven mines were the same. I spent hours mapping five levels of mines and annotating every treasure chest, trap, message, and special encounter. But I had to keep retreating to the surface to get food because there were no enemies to fight in the dungeon. Not in five 34 x 34 levels.
When I got done with the mines, I was steaming mad, partly because of all the effort required to slowly map, exit, get more food, and re-enter, only to find nothing of consequence, but mostly because of the ridiculously deadly traps that the game throws at you with absolutely no warning or any way to disarm.
|There are about 70 of these.|
About this time, Saintus from "CRPG Revisiting old classics" popped up and said that this game was one of his "all time favourites," a phrase that, combined with Legend of Faerghail, forced me to react with bafflement. In an attempt to understand what he saw in the game, since I'd already explored them, I took a look at his entry on the dwarven mines to see how he could possibly justify such tedious emptiness, and I was surprised to see his description full of combats--enough combats that he had all the food he needed, rose several levels, and presumably didn't die so easily from all the traps.
|I found a crystal ball that allowed automapping in the mines, but not annotated enough to preclude paper mapping.|
The mines were supposed to have enemies. Mine just didn't. After all the hours, all I had to show for my efforts were a magic staff, a steel key, a barrel of gunpowder, and a crystal ball that created a magic automap. My characters were all still Level 1 for lack of experience and gold.
|It didn't help that Siegurd kept taking all my credit. Incidentally, he ditched me when we got to Cyldane with no reward or special encounter to justify having kept him around for so long.|
I started Googling around and found my experience confirmed on this RPG Codex thread in which "TheDeveloperDude" notes, in the DOS version, both the lack of encounters in the dungeons (he mentions only the mines, but I haven't found them in any indoor area) and the negative experience point bug, which somehow allows for infinite leveling.
I've stubbornly stuck with the DOS version of games before, but usually the only consequence was poorer graphics and sound. For this game, it means no sound, greatly reduced character development, and who knows what other complications. There are plenty of other things about the game that it would be nice to hope is only present in the DOS version, including:
- No way to actively search for traps or secret doors
- Several encounters in which an NPC asks what appears to be a riddle, but there's no way to answer or otherwise interact with that NPC
- Copious treasure chests that contain nothing or so little gold that it's not worth the loss of food necessary to travel to that part of the dungeon and open them
|You and I have different definitions of the word "filled."|
- Torches and light spells that are never necessary because the mines are always bathed in perfect light
- Stairs throughout the dwarven mines that do not return to the same place they came from
- Inability to equip weapons and armor that the manual indicates the character class ought to be able to equip
- Doors that the game presents you and then will not let you pass with any action
|I could find no way to go through this door with any command, or even get the game to acknowledge that it was there.|
- Bumping into things hard enough to kill the characters
- A keyboard so sensitive that it's very easy to accidentally move an extra space and bump into something
Thus, given my recent announcement, it would be silly to stay with this version of the game. It feels like I've wasted a bunch of hours--about eight already--but at least I have the maps.
I don't know if I'll jump right to the Amiga version of Legend of Faerghail immediately. There's nothing I hate so much as having to re-tread old territory right away, and in any event I need to learn the Amiga emulator. But whatever happens, I will re-start the game eventually, on the platform that everyone seems to love.