Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Summoning: Take that Pearl

Comments on the last entry have me paranoid about using pearls.
It feels eerily like some DarkSpyre developer read my review of that game, went back in time, and wrote The Summoning as a specific answer to my GIMLET for the first game. It's everything that I said I wanted, and everything that fans of this particular sub-genre said wasn't needed: NPCs, a better backstory, an ongoing narrative, an economy, and (as I understand it) quest options. For those reasons, I don't blame readers who suspect a relatively high GIMLET score for this one.
I do understand the opinion that these elements aren't strictly needed, and that DarkSpyre and Dungeon Master are perfect examples of their sub-genres, which focus primarily on mechanics rather than narrative. Then again, so is Tetris, but nobody would call it a great RPG. It's hard to determine where to draw the line between not including an element in a scoring system at all versus giving it a 0 when it doesn't have that element. But I feel that The Summoning shows that even unnecessary elements can enhance the game and thus justify a higher score. Neither the NPCs I've met so far nor the economy have been particularly compelling, but I still maintain that they improve upon not having them at all. 
The Summoning's NPCs add some flavor to the game that wasn't present in DarkSpyre.
Despite these additions, The Summoning remains primarily about its mechanics, and as such, it has a low BOTHR (Bolingbroke Outcomes-to-Hours Ratio), an acronym I introduced seven years ago and then never used again. In a game like this, once I have explained the mechanics, inventory, and combat systems, there isn't much to say about the next four hours except, "I did more of that, but with spiders this time."
Weighing down pressure plates with dead bodies.
I spent most of this session finishing the three "beginner" levels, which I guess I would have completely bypassed if I'd taken the alternate route from the beginning of the game. After that, I completed two levels called "Broken Seal." These five levels lasted long enough that if they had been the entire game, you would have called it a short game, but not impossibly so. The levels were bigger than the entirety of the Temple of Apshai trilogy, for instance.
It makes you wonder why an evil wizard's fortress would even offer levels explicitly for "beginners."
Enemies included mercenaries, giant spiders, skeletons, and poisonous things called "creepers." Early in the giant spider level, there was a room with antidotes for their poison, but I went right instead of left and ended up clearing the level without finding the anti-venom until the end. I had to reload every time I got poisoned because I otherwise had no way to cure it. Fortunately, the odds of getting poisoned on any one hit were low, and I just saved after every three or four spiders.
I've been dual-wielding most of the game, alternating maces, axes, falchions, and broadswords in both hands. I've already broken almost a dozen weapons, but I always seem to have plenty of backups. I'm up to "Stalwart" (6/10) with edged weapons, "Average" with axes (4/10), and "Novice" (3/10) with polearms. I'm not sure where maces get ranked in this typology.
Trading blows with a skeleton.
Despite the addition of "Poison" to my spell list, I've mostly saved my spell points for making healing potions, which use nightshade sprouts, which are relatively common, and each sprig seems to be good for endless potions. (If I just munch them, I restore spell points, but the nightshade is ruined.) I'm "Skilled" (5/10) at healing magic, "Average" (4/10) at wizardry, and "Novice" at the other two.  My character is a "Gallant" (7/12) overall. If I hadn't already heard that this is a very long game, I would suspect from these relative rankings that I was already half the way through. As it is, it suggests that either leveling slows down significantly or you reach your level caps well before the end of the game.
the "Magic Wall" spell requires four hand gestures.
Puzzles didn't get much harder until the end of the session. For the most part, they involved finding an obvious key to an obvious lock or pulling an obvious lever to open an obvious door. Early in my explorations, I did find a couple of rolling balls, and messed around with them for a while, thinking there must be some purpose to them, but I suspect it was just to avoid them.
Notable "beginner" encounters included:
  • A room called the "execution chamber" with two levers and a skeleton on the floor. One of the levers caused four fireballs to shoot out of the walls and converge on the skeleton; the other reset the first lever. I probably could have taken advantage of this by leading enemies into the room, but they haven't been hard enough yet.
There might be some Eighth Amendment problems with this method.
  • The "Lair of Spiders" (all of these room names are announced by talking skulls), which had about two dozen giant spiders, one of which had a round key I needed to progress.
Killing these giant spiders leveled me up.
  • A "Mercenary Training Course" that consisted first of a corridor of rolling balls, and second a corridor with fireballs bouncing between side walls as they moved down the corridor. If there was a "third," I didn't note it. 
Just a matter of timing.
  • A woman named Horsa who gave me the "Poison" spell and warned me to be careful who I befriend.
I forgot to use it when I was beset by thieves.
  • A man named Shirvan, who gave me the same warning, almost verbatim. An ex-horde member, now too old to keep fighting, he set himself up as a trader, doing the most business when the horde marches past his part of the dungeon while on the way to war. He offered to give me runestones if I find black pearls for him. Apparently, if I gather raido, gebo, and thurisaz runes, I can make use of special teleportation destinations throughout the dungeon.
  • I got a lead on a black pearl when I met an old man who was looking for his friend, Owen.  The old man said that a later part of the dungeon is ruled by an assassin named the Raven. Some thief managed to steal some treasure from the Raven, including a black pearl, and hid it before the Raven's men caught up with him and killed him. Owen recently learned the location of the treasure and set off to find it, but he hasn't returned.
  • The visage of Rowena, or someone looking like her, appeared to say that the Council had managed to escape at the last second. The Council has learned that a wizard named Dustan has fallen into Shadow Weaver's hands. If I can find him and rescue him, he can probably help me.
I'm not entirely convinced.
  • Althea, a healer, met me at the exit from the beginner's levels and offered to heal my wounds for a gold piece.
  • This amusing sequence:
The only puzzle on the beginner levels that kept me occupied for a while was a room full of pits and pressure plates. Some of the plates opened and closed pits when depressed. Others opened when depressed once, then closed when depressed a second time. Some could be weighed down and others couldn't. The room actually wasn't very hard, but the final step--throwing an object to weigh down one of the corner plates and thus close a pit necessary to pass through the room--somehow eluded me for a while.
This room had an easy solution that for some reason came hard to me.
In a pit on the other side of this area, I found the body of Owen, including his black pearl. I returned to Shrivan and traded it for raido and a few other runes. I used raido right away and was teleported to the other side of a previously-locked door labeled "The Vault." The area had a bunch of useful items, including a spiked helm, a morning star, leather gloves, chainmail, an amulet of strength, and fehu and jera runes. The manual tells me that jera heals and fehu creates a random object.
Careful. I heard The Black Pearl is cursed.
The next area opened to a battle with four "creepers" and two skulls that said, "all bow to the power of Shadow Weaver!" The creepers kept poisoning me, so I took them out from a distance with flame arrows, gaining a "Wizardry" level in the process. A lever in the room wouldn't budge until I weighed down two pressure plates by dribbling dead creepers onto them.
My introduction to the post-beginner area of the dungeon.
I continued on, following the rightmost path (generally). In a nearby chamber, a warrior named Angus was lamenting that some thieves had broken his father's sword, knocked him out, and stolen it. He asked me to return the pieces if I find them.
Angus is a bit melodramatic.
I traveled through some teleporters, one of which required me to weigh down a plate with a boulder to activate. A skull told me I was in a "secret passageway." I found a book that caused me to level up in polearms; in retrospect, I probably should have saved it until I was already at a higher level. "Without this plate weighed down," a skull soon told me, "You will later meet with frustration." Fortunately, there was an enormous tree stump nearby to handle that task.
Eventually, I came across Darius, the lord of thieves who had stolen the sword from Angus. I used the type-in keyword "SWORD" to get him to talk about the theft, which he said was in repayment for a debt owed. He then threatened to imprison and torture me before deciding to simply kill me. I broke a couple of weapons in the ensuing combat, but I eventually defeated him. Angus's sword hilt was in a room past him (I had to push another tree trunk out of the way), and the sword blade was in a room that I unlocked with a jade key found in Darius's body. That room had four chests with a variety of treasures.
Darius has quite a few paragraphs of smack talk before I put him down.
By now, I was facing serious over-encumbrance--about 17 pounds more than my maximum.  A quick inventory showed that I had a morning star, a bow, 2 falchions, a scimitar, chainmail, a spiked helm, leather gloves, a quiver with 3 arrows, 2 bucklers, a vest and breeches, a +2 Amulet of Protection, 2 stones, 2 broken glasses, a palimpsest, the Eye of Sight, 3 Apples of Vigor, an apple core, an "Algit" potion (cure poison), 2 "Tejwaz" potions (restore endurance), 10 sprigs of nightshade, 6 empty flasks, 14 gold coins, a bloodstone, Angus's two sword parts, something called "seal six," runes of fehu, wunjo, tejwaz, sowelu, and jera, and parchments for "Poison," "Freeze" (2), "Flame Arrow," "Kano," "Liquify" (that's how the game spells it, and I had two), and "Restore." All of this was "organized" in 7 chests and 2 bags.
I used the jera rune to heal the damage from the battle with Darius, dumped the extra scrolls, tossed the broken glass and the apple core, reorganized enough that I could ditch three chests. This got me to a good place for now, but I suspect I'm going to be dealing with encumbrance issues throughout the entire game.
Even with all the containers, my inventory is getting out of control.
On the way back to Angus, I killed a bunch more skeletons and creepers and I ran across an impoverished nobleman named Augustus. For a gold piece, he told me things I'd already figured out about Darius.

Angus was happy to get his sword pieces back, and he rewarded me with a dagaz rune, which casts a spell of slaying, and a ruby. My plan is to save it for a difficult enemy and thus probably never use it. I left Angus wondering how he was going to get the sword repaired. Not long afterwards, I found a smith named Pandrake whose sole purpose seems to be to mend the sword, so now I wonder what Angus would have given me if I'd returned to him with the sword mended.
Pandrake makes it clear that he has only one purpose in this game.
Miscellaneous notes:
  • There are 12 different hand gestures. Spells require between 2 and 8 gestures, and gestures can be repeated. This would give us 469,070,928 possible combinations except that apparently gestures are never repeated side-by-side. It took me a while to work out how many gestures to "subtract" based on this rule, and I came up with a final number of 199,000,032 potential gesture combinations, but I'm not 100% sure on my math. [Ed. The number is of course 233,846,052.] If you tried one combination every 5 seconds and never slept, it would take you 11,516.2 days, or about 31.5 years [Ed. based on the real number, it's 37 years], to try them all. Thus, I suspect you can't really "find" spells by trying random combinations.
  • When you go to the game options screen (save, restore, etc.), there's a place to type in your own keyword, much like the dialogue screen. I wonder if there's ever any reason to use it.
This, alas, did not work.
  • Amulets disappear within minutes. They're basically good for one battle unless you take care to take them off in between. I also don't care for the way the game interrupts combat to bring up the inventory screen and tell you when something is vanished or broken. It would be one thing if it brought up the screen, the screen paused the action, and then the game stayed on the screen so you can equip something else. But instead it brings up the screen, shows you the item blink away, and then takes you back to the regular window. That's just a waste of time.
It feels like I just put it on.
  • A little ladder-climbing animation appears when you go up and down ladders.
A cute touch.
  • I have tried using the Eye of Sight several times and I can't figure out what it does.
  • Nightshades don't seem to ever run out of uses to make potions. Can I ditch most of these sprigs?
  • If you walk into a wall, the game puts you in a "confused" state for a few rounds. Does it assume you're banging your head on the wall?
  • The annotations on the automap are a bit small to read, but the map itself works very well to determine which areas I haven't visited.
I feel like we've been seeing a lot of competent automaps lately.
  • I used a fehu rune at one point (which generates a random object) and got an odin rune. Supposedly, this powerful rune increases an attribute and rarely changes the character's sex. Well, every time I try to use it, it changes my sex, which I don't want, so I keep reloading.
I close having finished most of the second "Broken Seal" level. The goal here seems to be to collect six pieces of a seal, which will somehow let me out of this area.
This is my third.
Early in the level, I met a fighter who said his band had been slaughtered by a group of mercenaries led by "Kruk." I later encountered them and killed them all. ("Freeze" is a great spell to ensure that you only fight one enemy at a time.) Kruk dropped three pearls, one of which opened the way into the mercenaries' treasure room, where I found one of the seals and a perth rune, which automatically levels you up in one magic level. I also got the "Magic Wall" spell here and some Boots of Levitation.
Slaughtering a bunch of mercenaries.
I'm trying to figure out a puzzle on this level. It's found in a room full of glyphs on the floor that damage you when you walk over them. The Boots of Levitation are the only way to survive. This is clued by a nearby NPC named Mistral, who speaks of a pit that you have to open in the room. I found the boots and can thus survive the glyphs, but I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to open the pit. There are three pressure plates in the room that I imagine need to be weighed down. Regular items don't work; the plates require something very heavy. There's a tree trunk and a rolling ball that will presumably take care of two of them. I think the trick is to use the trunk as a kind of chock to get the ball to stop rolling when it reaches the plate, then push the trunk onto the second plate. I'm not sure about the third one; perhaps the "Magic Wall" spell that I recently found will do the job.
This room is going to take a while.
The Summoning is a decent game, but because it has such a low time-to-text ratio, I may delay further play for a couple of weeks. My life gets extremely busy in September, and I really need a story-heavy game where an hour of gameplay gives me enough material for an entire entry. It's too bad Matrix Cubed is wrapping up, because that would have worked well. I still have to write my final entries for that game, and then we'll see if the next one is more plot-heavy. Fortunately, even if I find I don't have time to play games at all, I built up a small reserve of one-off entries over the summer that I can burn through while waiting for the new semester to stabilize.
Time so far: 7 hours


  1. I didn't get a chance to comment on the previous post regarding the black pearl shortage, but I encountered that both times I played through this game years ago (i.e., on original hardware). I think I ended up having to try to spawn one with a Fehu rune through dozens-to-hundreds of reloads. But I was also young enough to be relying on the hint book, which only identified 4 out of the 5 black pearls you need in that part of the game, and it's entirely possible that the 5th is findable (just not by most people given its infamy). Anyway, keep at least one Fehu rune to be safe.

    I also remember playing the reload game with the Odin runes, as changing gender is MUCH more likely than getting a stat increase, especially if you are fishing for strength or whatever stat is needed to increase your carrying capacity.

    1. Fehu -> Odin -> increase Strength is the best way to save-scum, though in the Addict's words, it qualifies as "playing like a jackass". …and no matter how strong you are, you always have encumbrance problems.
      Zhpu yngre va gur tnzr, gurer jvyy or na nern npprffvoyr sebz naljurer juvpu pna freir nf na vgrz qhzc/fgbentr.

    2. Oh how useful would that "lousy" rune be in the real world!

  2. "It took me a while to work out how many gestures to "subtract" based on this rule, and I came up with a final number of 199,000,032 potential gesture combinations"

    Maybe I don't understand the rules of spellcasting. To find all the permutations using 8 gestures, isn't it 12*11^7?

    1. That's my understanding of the description as well.

      It follows that the total number of is 12*(11 + 11^2 + ... + 11^7) = 12*11*(11^7 - 1)/10 = 257,230,644 possible combinations.

    2. Great logic, I also came up with 257,230,644 possible combinations of non-contiguous runes of length two through eight. Another challenge to the 31 year estimate is that searching through runespace exhausts mana, so the assumed five seconds per hypothesis is extended by 20 minutes or so, every ten or twelve attempts, which becomes necessary in order to recharge mana.

    3. I don´t think so, you can simply reload.

    4. Wow, so that was a series of dumb mistakes. Not only did I take the long way answering the question, I didn't realize that in my calculations of how many to "subtract," I was duplicating some sequences (i.e., a sequence disallowed because of three consecutive signs would have already been disallowed because of two). Tristan has it right: the calculation is a simple 12 x 11^7 = 233,846,052

    5. Since the codes vary in length from 2 - 7 digits (gestures), isn't the total actually the sum of all 2 digit codes, 3 digit codes, ..., 7 digit codes?

      12 * (11 + 11^2 + 11^3 + 11^4 + 11^5 + 11^6 + 11^7) = 257,230,644

    6. So, I agree with Vonotar and Rangerous...

    7. And my math is for 2-8 digits, despite what I said.

      And this time, I'm posting completely sober!

    8. Yes that is of course right. By the time I got back here I had forgotten that we were calculating more than 8 slots.

  3. I wrote to you how to "win immediately" back in my first comment on the game ;P
    As for the eye spell, it makes h the objects on the ground look bigger. Problem is, there's already a setting in the options that does that, so if you have it on, the spell is useless.

    1. (oh, and yes, the magic wall spell creates those "enormous tree trunks" to weigh the plates)

    2. That makes sense. I did enable that option (bigger icons).

    3. That's rubbish, making a spell for what is rightly an option! Funnily enough, I find that these spot the pixel mechanics do not fit well in any game - Zelda, adventure, or RPG. We see so many examples of adventures/RPG adding in some unwelcome arcade gameplay, but I don't think pixel hunts are welcome anywhere... except for some hardcore people who like those escape room flash games I guess.

    4. Funnily enough, I'm currently playing Diablo with the Hellfire expansion (via GOG) and it has a very similar problem; items are hard to see in the darkness and can be obscured by corpses, so Hellfire added a "Search" spell that marks items on the automap. It's far and away the most common type of scroll you'll find, so it's never not an option. Diablo 2 just lets you highlight all items by holding the Alt key.

    5. Well, The Summoning has some of those design decisions that aren't very well thought out. For example, one of the stats (I don't remember which) governs how many spells of a given school you can have memorized. Which would have been useful if the spellcasting interface didn't pause the game. So in reality, when you run out of memorized copies, you can just create new ones without any drawback.

      I think they might have designed the game to be more hardcore originally (i.e. without the highlight option or pause on spellcasting), but in the last minute decide to tone it down a bit.

    6. Funny thing about pixel hunts, I'm active in the Thief fan mission community and there's a certain subset of designers who believe that hiding keys and switches in hard to see places is "challenging" gameplay. Luckily this design philosophy has mostly died out by now, but it was somewhat popular in the late 00s.

      There's one Thief fan mission that was quite enjoyable overall but frustrated me to no end with one deviously hidden switch. Even when I used a walkthrough it took me 5 minutes to find it because it was so well-hidden. Of course you HAD to find it in order to progress, and of course there were no hints at all in the actual game. No written notes, nothing.

    7. Path of Exile has a loot filter system where you can choose which items you want to see (by level as well) and how they are highlighted: size, font and box color, minimap icons, beams, ... Evolution, I guess.

  4. I predict about a score of 45 for this game on the gimlet.

    1. 45? I consider that rather high. This game has visual merits but gets a bit lost in story. It´d hover closer to a 37 or 38 on my reckoning.

    2. From a story standpoint, the game has a very interesting setup and a satisfying ending, a pity that what happens in the 30ish hours in between it is fairly unremarkable.

  5. I'm mostly excited to see someone else struggle to comprehend Defender of Boston. So that's the upcoming game I'm most excited for.

    1. I love the concept of this game but damn is it impenetrable. Looking forward to it very much.

    2. It doesn't sound much like an RPG. I've been half-expecting I'd get to it and find a pure adventure game.

    3. I suppose it does mostly lack character development during gameplay, so you might toss it out as a result.

  6. I've only read the opening of this post so far, but I wanted to say don't get too hung up on the scores and what people think of them. That's not the reason most of us read or are patrons.

  7. I wanted to comment on it during the first entry, but congratulations on your character name, it is a most fitting one for this game!
    That said, on the subject of creating Jera potions: Lbh bayl arrq na rzcgl synfx va lbhe unaq. Pnfgvat Yvdhvsl gura perngrf n Wren cbgvba ol qrsnhyg. Gur avtugfunqr vf abg arrqrq. Lbh bayl arrq fcrpvsvp vgrzf va lbhe bgure unaq sbe bgure cbgvbaf.

    1. I don't think that needs to bet rot13-ed, it's not really a spoiler.

    2. I considered that (and now the information is also posted below unrotted) but ever since I'd been overly helpful during some Wiz7 post, I try and err on the safe side.

    3. I appreciate the consideration. And thanks for informing me about the Jera potions. I don't know where I got the idea that the nightshade was associated with them. I guess probably because I held it and hit "Liquify," and that's what got made.

    4. Btw, for future reference, the manual lists all the potions and the ingredients (gems) you need to make them. It also lists most spell effects (except for plot-relevant spells), so you might want to look through that too.

  8. I remember some things from the time when I was playing this game long time ago:
    1) I made "warehouse" on the beginning of each area, so after finishing the area I hauled things sometimes in 2 or 3 "runs" to make a new warehouse. Even broken glass or rest of apple sometimes can be used for something.

    2) Boots of levitation are quite rare, so I tried to use them as short time as possible and keep them. After they helped me in some other areas which would be more complicated without them. Similar thing it was with Cloak of Invisibility, if I remember well and something which gives you haste.

  9. I started yesterday to play this game, and I will try to keep with you. I am currently at "Beginner 2", but here are some things which I noticed and I would like to comment:

    - When generating my character, in my first dozen rolls, I got a pool of 105 attribute points. I think that having a random pool of attribute points self-defeats the purpose a generating a character. Having a fixed amount of points (let's say 80) forces you to choose between having a balanced but average character, or focusing on some attributes (i.e. physical attributes or magic attributes). But with the option to endlessly re-roll your attribute pool, nobody will pick a character with 80-90 attribute points when, re-rolling for a minute or two, he can have a character with 100+ attribute points.

    - The "Freeze" spell works with the rolling balls, which makes much easier to avoid them. Also, although I haven't tried still, I think that the NPC which gives the "Kano" also says that this spell can be used to change the direction in which rollings balls go.

    - You can destroy corpses (at least, the corpses of mercenaries) if you put them between an open door and then your close that door.

    - Sometimes the message given by one of those impaled skulls can change. At the start of a corridor, one skull warned that "Trespassing will be severely punished". Keeping advancing through that corridor activates a trap. If, after activating the trap, you return to that skull, now it says "You were warned".

    1. Thanks for the additions! Is there a reason to want to destroy corpses?

    2. No that I remember. In my next game session, I will try to see if it is possible to crush an enemy while he is walking through an open door. It is also possible that destroying corpses could be useful if your computer of that time had problems with running the game, as it would erase sprites from the screen.

    3. I like rolling for extra points at the beginning of games. Getting a set of guys with a lot of points and 18/00 strength was my favorite part of Icewind Dale. Your reasons for why it's bad design are correct, and besides, you shouldn't incentive players to do a boring and frustrating thing, but I still like it. It has some of the compelling elements of gambling, but in some games, also lets you show off your system mastery. I've often thought something should design a game that was mostly about rolling and assigning stat points.

    4. Re-rolling characters is ultimately the reason why I have yet to beat Wizardry. It's bad enough that you have to roll points, but the variation between high and low rolls is HUGE. And you have to finish creating the character before discarding and trying again.

    5. Corpses == free pressure plates weights.

      To be honest I don't see too much difference between a full reroll and rerolling a points pool, except that with the former it will take more time to roll a strong character with the attributes you are looking for.

    6. I used to re-roll a lot in Wizardry 6&7, but once you get the class change system it is almost completely uneccessary.

  10. - Also, Healing potions doesn't use Nightshade Sprouts. I put all my Nightshade at the floor and did a "Liquify" spell on an empty flask, and it became a healing potion, so the use of Nightshades seems strictly reduced to eat them to recover spell points.

    1. I'm not sure where I got that idea. But thanks--that means I can heal in combat since I don't have to have both hands tied up.

  11. Deeply disappointed to discover, on perusing this entry, that this game apparently features zero (0) long-haired, overfed leaping gnomes.

    1. I played an extra level longer than I had originally intended hoping I'd find some enemy for which I could use that caption. Alas. If it helps, I'm definitely overfed.

  12. Maybe I missed some comment about it, but "Kruk" in Polish means "Raven".

    1. You didn't miss anything; you're the first to alert us about that. Thanks!

  13. Dude, thank you for finding time and enthusiasm to do this blog while actually having a full-time job (and a life in general). Like, really, it is so great of you!

  14. Oh weird. I thought you were going to be revisiting Omega, but I just read your Twilight 2000 wrap-up (as a new edition of the tabletop game was just kickstarted) - which mentioned a different Omega from '86.

    1. Right. This one is the French Planete Invisible. I WISH I was playing the next roguelike version.

  15. I'm replaying the game and found a game-ending bug (more like a very serious oversight). Chet, the following is safe to read - and could save you a lot of frustration - once you have entered a level that is very very blue.
    Pnfg Tngrjnl va gur Bgurejbeyq - tnzr bire. Gur ernfba vf gung Xvat Rirezber fraqf lbh onpx gb gur ybpngvba bs lbhe ynfg Tngrjnl. Vs gung unccraf gb or va gur Bgurejbeyq, lbh'er fghpx.

    1. I feel like people have told me about so many of these that I almost WANT to get into one of these states so I have an excuse not to worry about it anymore.

    2. Regarding what I've written above, you probably wouldn't get into that situation, but it's possible - this is something like my fourth playthrough of the game and I've just discovered it.
      The game is weird (suboptimally designed) in this regard - a grindless, or as you put it, closed game, with a lot relying on what you're supposed to be doing versus what you are able to do: consume critical items for character development, destroy critical objects, or my favourite, kill too many enemies near walls so you can't dribble their corpses away from said wall and boulders/magic just won't do the trick.
      The game does occasionally warn you that a possible solution will break your progress. However, I think this somewhat goes against the philosophy of such gameplay design, which encourages experimentation, while the puzzles encourage conservation of resources. Somehow, puzzle design and gameplay design are at odds here. This can create a constant feeling of anxiety and fear of rewards (should I improve my character or save the power-up because some magic mouth four levels later might ask for it)? Should I use this cool weapon and risk breaking it? Should I wear something that might be timed and just disappear after a while? Is this particular item even timed? You're never told in advance, you only find out once it's gone.
      Then there is inventory and encumbrance management, both of which become a major part of the game timewise - and this also encourages consumption as opposed to conservation. It is also a pain. I'm OCD enough to enjoy organising my inventory to a point, and feel satisfaction when I'm switching out my chests for bags (-2.5 Kg, +2 slots!) - but after a while I just want to progress and not spend a major part of my time organising stuff.
      There are Fehu runes as a last resort, but I have strong negative feelings about the game providing you a way to save yourself through reload-gambling. They are also limited in what they can create.
      There actually happens to be an NPC in the game who mentions a trick that can be interpreted no differently than "the trick is to save and reload".

      That said, I still love this game. So many mechanics are really good and smooth. I like the idea behind the plot and how it unfolds (the actual writing, not so much). The casting system is excellent. The controls, especially if you completely disable the mouse, are great. Being able to progress is satisfying. When it does not screw you over, inventory management concerns can add an exciting layer of considerations on top of the puzzle-solving, e.g. teleportation rune management. The combat system is not complex, but there are some neat tricks you can do.
      I don't know how much it comes across to you, but I think this game makes remarkable use of the 256 colours available to it. Most everything looks really deep and beautiful colourwise. When I think of beautiful early 90s games, this and EoB2 are the first to come to my mind (compare to EoB1 (VGA version) and EoB3, which had the exact same colours available and look a lot less satisfying).

  16. My plan is to save it for a difficult enemy and thus probably never use it.

    As a person who ended his last RPG with 99 health potions, 99 magic potions and 99 revive potions, I feel personally attacked :)

  17. I recall playing a ways into this and enjoying it but never finishing it. Can't remember why. Looking forward to seeing more progress.

  18. It will dismay me and delight you to know that I have never once seen a game that talks about "the seal" and then shows it in a more literal fashion. You know, arf arf.

  19. "Careful. I heard The Black Pearl is cursed."

    He, another fun pop culture reference caption. That movie (franchise) also has lots of skulls in it and the 'summoning' of a creature in the second one.


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