|This monster portrait freaks me out for reasons I don't understand.|
At the conclusion of the last session, I had been visited by a "projection" that told me to travel to Akrillon and see an Umbeke named Ranishtar. Before I left, I wanted to check out the one un-explored dungeon in Nomiris: Tiefencastel.
Despite its name ("deep castle"), Tiefencastel ended up being about 17 squares. There were a couple of trite messages ("Life is expensive, even after death!") along the way. The hallway ended in a barricaded door and there was no way to progress. "Despite being a bit disappointed," the game said, "you're nevertheless glad that the way ends here. Everything you've seen from these corridors so far didn't exactly inspire confidence." I don't know if some other event will bring me back here or not.
|It's nice that the skull and crossbones has universal meaning.|
So much for that. I returned to the transport hub, entered my found PIN, and set off for Akrillon. I'm not entirely certain whether the three places I can travel from the transport hub are different planets in the Antares system or different cities on Kyrion.
Akrillon was much like Nomiris: a 20 x 20 city in which every wall is a door to a building. I explored them all and found a lot of empty houses, four food shops, one equipment shop, a storage depot, and two dungeons: Tornac and Dominia. There was no sign of Ranishtar in any of the houses, so I reasoned that he was probably in one of the dungeons.
|The city of Akrillon.|
The storage depot was a nice touch. It allowed me to stuff any of the equipment I was carrying in a locker for later retrieval. I put almost all my "Electerium" there, a bunch of food for when the stores were closed, and a couple of items that I was afraid to discard but I didn't know what they did. This freed up a lot of inventory space. This might even be a CRPG first. I can't remember a previous game that allowed me to store items in a central location.
|A nice touch for an inventory-limited game.|
I decided to try Tornac first. It turned out to be a two-level dungeon, each level consisting of two 6 x 19 areas connected by a 3 x 7 corridor. In general, the developers of this game did a good job varying the size and shapes of the levels while still making them symmetrical enough that you can identify likely secret areas. They also did a good job with different textures in the dungeons.
|One of the symmetrical levels from my latest exploits.|
I didn't find Ranishtar in the dungeon, but I did find a bunch of messages related to the mysterious Questonaten race. "It's strange that the Umbekes' best friends carry such a 'questionable' name," the first read, opening a mystery I haven't yet solved. Another indicated that the race can assume a spectral, ethereal shape, and a third said that they were telepathic.
"Our masters are exceedingly reserved. In all of their history, they have chosen to bother with only three other cultures--us being one of them." I assume this one is talking about the Vuroners, but I'm not sure. "You'll see us," a final one promised, "and then, at the latest, you'll recognize us." Okay.
|The main quest reward from the dungeon.|
On Level 2, I found some kind of medallion that the game assured I would need later. Then, after navigating a room with invisible walls ("Do not trust with your eyes what they're not able to see," a clue offered), I ran into what I assume is a member of the race. He asked me telepathically to name him, and the answer--QUESTONATEN--opened the way back up to the exit. So I guess the medallion was the real purpose of the dungeon.
|Encountering a member of the Questonate race.|
The dungeon was also unique in that it had a shop in the middle of Level 1, run by a guy named Ernesto Samson. The shop sold a variety of objects labeled "container." I suspect these are supposed to be boxes that allow you to expand your inventory, but unfortunately every time I try to open one, the game crashes. I hope this doesn't turn out to be plot-relevant.
|I have no idea what these containers do except crash the game.|
As I explored, I did my best to puzzle out all of the various items of equipment in the game. To help future players Googling the terms, I've pasted the full list (so far) at the end of this posting. Of particular note are a series of devices that help with dungeon navigation. A "Detektor AR-1" alerts you to messages within a few squares of where it's pointing; a "Detektor AR-2" warns you of messages and traps. I haven't found any way to avoid or disarm traps, though, so this is of limited utility.
|The Detektor alerts me to a trap.|
An "Auto-Mapper" does what it suggests, although it only lasts for the active level, so you can't really rely on it for all your mapping needs.
|It would be nice if this meant I no longer had to do my own mapping, but alas...|
- In an earlier post, I mentioned how difficult it is when your fatigue meter gets to 0 and you're forced to sleep, even in the middle of a dungeon. Well, I found a loophole to that. On the initial encounter screen--where it tells you how many enemies you face and asks whether you want to fight or flee--time still passes. I can remain on this screen indefinitely, letting my party members get a nice, long rest, before either fighting or fleeing. Unfortunately, light and food also deplete during this period, but they're not as much of a problem.
- Blue laws are apparently in effect on Kyrion. Shops are closed on Sundays.
|Man, the Puritans made it everywhere.|
- Akrillon, unlike Nomiris, had a bunch of houses that I couldn't enter.
- One of my victories produced an "Atari ST." I have no idea what to do with it. It would be the coolest thing ever if, when I "used" it, it opened up a mini Atari window and let me play a basic game. But we're way too early for such things.
|The computer only an alien would own.|
- Based on the percentage of paragraphs in the translation document that I've accessed, I'm only about 20% of the way through the game.
- I rather thought I'd find an NPC to occupy that sixth party space by now. Did I just miss the ability to add that sixth member during character creation?
You can't say I'm not trying my best with this one, but I'll continue to intersperse posts on other games in between Antares articles. Let's check out Enchantasy.
Time so far: 21 hours
Reload count: 23
Aluminum-Platte: Aluminum plate (armor) - 100
Armschutz: Bracer (armor)
Aspirin: Aspirin (mental healing) - 50
Asthanen-Steak: Steak (food) - 120
Atari ST: Computer (unknown use)
Beruhigungspille: Pill (mental healing)
Biospalter-Ragout: Food - 20
Blei-Mantel: Lead coat (armor) - 450
Container: Containers of various types all crash the game
Demograllampe: Lamp (utility) - 30
Detektor AR-1: Warns you about messages ahead - 140
Detektor AR-2: Warns you about traps - 190
Druckverband: Bandage (physical healing) - 40
Eisenstange: Iron bar (weapon) - 120
Electerium: Use in landing craft to resurrect characters - 423
Glasfaserkabel: Fiber optic cable (unknown) - 20
Halogenlampe: Halogen lamp (utility) - 20
Handschuhe: Gloves (armor) - 80
Handtuch: Towel (unknown) - 20
HiFi-Center: H-Fi Center (makes music) - 210
Hut: Hat (armor) - 60
Isolierband: Insulating tape (armor) - 60
Jogging-Schuhe: Jogging shoes (armor) - 50
Kichererbsen: Chickpeas (food) -
Kompass: Compass (utility) - 50
Kompass "Ali": Compass (utility; stays on longer?) - 60
Kreuzring: Cross ring (unknown; "increases self-confidence") - 180
Marmorbuddha: Marble Buddha (unknown; "increases self-confidence") - 300
Megaphon: Megaphone (does group psychic damage in combat) - 374
Messer: Knife (weapon) - 50
Nomiris-Vodka: Vodka (food) - 90
Pflaster: Bandage (physical healing) - 20
Poisodan: Unknown - 60
Refraktor: Unknown - 120
Rippenknocken: Ribcage (weapon) - 30
Roboterhand: Robot hand (unknown) - 150
Roter Hering: Red herring (unknown) - 60
Sandspargel: Sand asparagus (food) - 10
Schlüssel: Key (unknown) - 20
Schutzanzug: Protective suit (armor) - 150
Skrit Reference: Translation book - 12
Stahlschild: Steel shield (armor) - 200 Sonnenhut: Sun hat (armor) - 30
Stablampe: Flashlight (utility) - 20
Taschenmesser: Penknife (weapon) - 30
Tokero: Does mass physical damage - 309
Totenkopf: Skull (unknown) - 100
Trash: Trash (unknown) - 400
Walther PPK: Gun (weapon) - 250
Wasser: Water (food) - 10