Friday, November 3, 2023

Ambermoon: Won! Technically, Anyway. Your Opinion Might Vary.

I have a feeling some of my commenters aren't going to be so happy.
To recap, my Ambermoon party has found that what's threatening the planet of Lyramion is not the return of a dark wizard--he's reformed and in the party!--but rather some lizard aliens from one of Lyramion's moons. We're not on that moon, though, but a different one--one occupied by dwarves, who were tricked by the lizard men into exiling themselves after building a machine back on Lyramion. We need to find a Navigation Stone to take our airship anywhere, and this dungeon by process of elimination was the only place to go.
We join the action on a level titled "Antique Area 3," where the party has found a bunch of teleporters, elevators, energy barriers, and switches to turn them on and off. We're being attacked by large groups of futuristic enemies called "Guardians." I suspect we're meant to trap them by turning off some energy barriers, leading them awry, and then turning on others. Alas, I have no such patience, and I just end up killing them all with "Iceshower," the most damaging mass-damage spell in the game. 
I guess I could have trapped them between the barriers? The movement interface doesn't work well enough for such tactics.
Another elevator takes us down to Antique Area 4. We soon find three receptacles on the wall that contain blue, yellow, and green "carved discs." There are a lot of them, so I only take a handful of each. In the next room is a pair of machines connected by glowing balls. One of them accepts one of the disks and the other accepts pieces of amber. They fuse them together and deposit them on a nearby pedestal. Every pair of disk and amber piece creates a Navigation Stone, in blue, yellow, and green varieties. I make three of each. 
I'm about to head up back to the surface when I find another room with a dead teleporter and a machine connected to it. The machine looks like the one that takes the discs, but this one doesn't. I am able to feed it a metal globe that we find on a nearby skeleton. The teleporter comes to life. We enter, and find ourselves in a dungeon with plain gray brick walls and, as the game has it, an "impression of being somehow incomplete and unfinished." The level is titled, "Gadlon, Cellar 2."
We are soon attacked by a party of four floating balls with eyes. They are called "energieglobes." They're not terribly hard to kill, but they have a lot of hit points, and there are a million of the little bastards on the two floors of the dungeon.
You look familiar. Turn sideways.
I recognize the floating balls from Dragonflight, Thalion's first game, which I reviewed a lifetime ago in 2014, but I don't remember the name "Gadlon," and it doesn't show up in my search of those entries. Eventually, I reach the ground floor, where I meet an elf mage named Aderin. We cannot understand him until he gives us a piece of fruit that magically enables translation. Aderin sheepishly explains that they use the fruit to talk with animals. When we ask where we are, he says we're "in Gadlon, the old school of magic." When pressed, he says "we are near Pegana, on the main continent of Ontaflareth." "Pegana" does show up in my Dragonflight coverage. What seals the deal is the news that the school of magic is led by Rinakles, one of the party members in Dragonflight.
Nice title. Maybe lose the space.
It's a cute diversion, but Ambermoon doesn't really do anything with it. There are some chests in the area, but they don't have anything useful, just a little gold, a couple of potions, and weapons and armor worse than what we had in the 12th hour of the game. We meet Rinakles, and he summarizes the events of Dragonflight before powering up a teleporter to send us back home. I suppose the episode does accomplish a little world-building; clearly, this universe once had an ancient race capable of teleporting between planets, and multiple worlds were united in an "Amberverse." It gives Valdyn some hope, I suppose, that we might find a teleporter to his world.
I'm hoping that Rinakles's teleporter takes us to the surface of the moon, but no, it dumps us back on the same dungeon level, so we have to travel the long way to the surface. When we get there, I visit both dwarven leaders, show them our Navigation Stones, and try various keywords to alert them to the fact that we can now leave the moon. Nothing works. I guess they don't really want to leave.
Your loss.
Before we head off in the airship, I can't help but see if any more of the Forest Moon is used. I had previously noted that coordinates went from (0,0) to (300,300), but the places I've found have only used about half of that space. I save at the airship and then head off to see if I can find any more places. It takes a while, especially dodging all of the waiting insects. Eventually, the expedition becomes more about confirming that there is nothing to find than it is about finding something, at which point I decide to relax my rules a bit and look up an online map. Imagine my surprise when I find a tower in the northwest quadrant of the map. 

It takes a while to get there, because the tower is surrounded by impassable, dangerous plants (they lash out at us and kill us), and there are insect combats threaded throughout the area. Eventually, we find ourselves in a ruined tower with more puzzle doors, teleporters, and elevators. We're attacked by several parties of gizzeks. We find a lot of doors with colored circle, triangle, and square patterns. Finally, we find a corpse with a book that gives us clues about how to decipher the shapes and colors. I realize that I was supposed to find these ruins before the Antique Area, which would have made it easier to figure out the door combinations. 
I'm not sure what the lines mean, but I never had to decode a door with a line.
Finding nothing else in these ruins, I don't feel like walking all the way back, so I reload next to the airship and continue on from there.
I enter the ship and find the receptacle next to the sign that reads "LYRAMION." The blue Navigation Stone works here. In moments, we are back on our home planet!
Hello, Lyramion!
Then I think about it for a few minutes and realize that we have nothing in particular to do on Lyramion. So after taking a save, I re-enter the airship and use the yellow Navigation Stone next to the receptacle for "MORAG." Within moments, we land on Lyramion's yellow moon.
Bye, Lyramion!
Like the landing pad back in the Temple of the Brotherhood, the mooring here is surrounded by giant crystals. No sooner have we left this area than we disappear in a flash and reappear in a cell with an ailing lizard magician. He introduces himself as S'Riel. He explains that he teleported us from the hangar and he gives us a brief history of his people. They have long merged technology and magic to create marvels, but at the expense of their moon's environment. Somehow, they used up their water, and their world, always arid, became a desert. This is particularly bad for the lizard men, or "Moranians," because their bodies require water every day, or else they decompose into dust and bones. 
It's almost a palindrome.
They figured out inter-system travel and visited the Forest Moon, but its water is poisonous to the Moranians. They then visited Lyramion. Some of the Moranians wanted to work in harmony with the races of Lyramion and ask for asylum, but they were outvoted by the faction that wanted to steal Lyramion's water. They tricked the dwarves into building a machine that would siphon water from Lyramion to Morag. It will begin operation in "the very near future," and Lyramion will die.
The machine is hidden behind a crystal wall, "which can only be removed by certain sounds." To accomplish this, we will need to find seven crystal harp strings from seven palaces owned by members of "The Committee" on Morag. We'll then have to fit them to a harp and strum it at the crystal wall. (A quick check of my inventory confirms I still have the harp I bought ages ago.) He finishes by teaching us the Moranian language and casting a spell that disguises us as Moranians. He then teleports us to his own palace.
I know you're just the messenger, but this sounds annoying.
No sooner do we arrive than we're confronted by a mage named S'Arin and eight magic guardians in two parties of four each. He sees right through our disguise, leaves us to fight the guardians, and teleports away.
We fought magic guardians back in the Temple of the Brotherhood, mostly by blasting them with ice spells. It turns out that water-based magic doesn't work on the moon. Neither do many of the navigation spells like "Map View." Even the automap fails. So it takes us a while, and several resurrections (the guardians are very lucky with critical hits) to destroy the two parties.
Why? Someone just wanted to be a jerk.
Further into S'Riel's palace, we find a chest with his crystal harp string, a "map" that actually has a textual description of all the coordinates for the seven palaces and one town on Morag, and a key to "Palace S'Orel."
This is handy, but as we'll see, not handy enough.
The rest of the palace isn't very big, so we soon find ourselves outside on a desert landscape. I decide to head for the town before trying the palaces. Sand lizards attack as we move across the landscape. They attack individually, have a lot of hit points, and cast mass-damage tornadoes.
We reach the city of S'Angrila as night is falling, camp for the night, and enter in the morning. It turns out we were already at the city. It has the hangar with our airship plus the prison, where S'Riel is now just a skeleton. 
The desert is rather pretty.
Talking with NPCs in the town, it's clear that The Council is at odds with the populace. They hog water for themselves--the highest councilor even has a moat--and leave the common people to sicken and die. For being an alien city, it otherwise looks exactly like a city you'd find on Lyramion. It has an inn, a food shop, a repair shop, and a general store, where we spend some money on attribute potions and a pair of Lightning Boots. A bottle of water in the store costs 6,000 gold.
Things aren't well for the Moranians.
We then head out, following the coordinates to the Palace of S'Orel, fighting lizards along the way. We killed S'Orel a few sessions ago back on Lyramion, so we're not surprised to find it deserted--except for copious magical guardians. By the end of this palace, I'm thoroughly sick of fighting them, and I still have a lot to go. They typically attack in parties of four, and every battle is mostly the same: After one round of melee attacks, they're all lined up in front of my characters. I then hit them with five melee attacks and "Firestorm," my best "linear damage" spell. After four rounds, Qamara and Gryban are generally below half health, so I have to have Sabine stop attacking and start healing each round. After eight rounds, they're all dead. One battle in every two, I then have to leave the palace and camp so that Sabine can raise at least one of the characters who met the unlucky end of a critical hit.
My god, these guys are annoying.
We skirt some spike traps. The key we found in S'Riel's palace opens a door, behind which is a chest containing another chord, a bunch of spell scrolls, and the key to Palace S'Arin.
I lost patience with the game somewhere in the Palace of S'Arin, where there were hidden globes and number puzzles in addition to another interminable series of combats with magic guardians. Somewhere around hour 80, Ambermoon officially wore out its welcome. I had been hoping for just one big fight on Morag, not a linear, seven-piece "Dissasembulet of Yendor" quest right when the game should be coming to a swift end. Not to mention a pointless two-hour Easter egg.
I guess I actually met S'Arin, even. My mind was elsewhere at this point.
About this time, an Evil Thought occurred to me. It was one of those thoughts that, once you've allowed your mind to fully express it, you realize--sometimes to your despair--that you are now powerless against it. We've all had these thoughts: "Maybe I'll call in sick to work tomorrow" when you haven't taken a sick day lately; "Maybe I'll get a cheeseburger from Five Guys" when you're on a diet; "Maybe I'll sit on the couch all day playing video games" when you have a lot to do this weekend. Part of you thinks, "I should resist this!" but you know you simply don't have the willpower, and any attempts you make are just for show. Don't pretend you don't know what I mean. People who do have that kind of willpower aren't reading this blog.
My particular Evil Thought centered on something a commenter told me months ago. It involved making my way back to S'Angrila and the airship (after verifying that Morag is 200 x 200), flying it back to Lyramion, exiting the Temple of the Brotherhood of Tarbos, calling for the giant eagle, and flying it back to grandfather's house. I then rooted around my chests until I found Netsrak's Staff, which I had found behind the fireplace oh so many hours ago. 
"Netsrak" sounds almost dirty, but in a confusing way.
I took the staff to Spannenberg, found the dead-end alley with the message proclaiming "Karsten was here!" and waved the staff in front of the message. 
I think it's possible I would have found this even if a commenter hadn't spoiled it.
We were instantly transported to a top-down map called "Thalion Office." As I walked through the doors, a voice welcomed me to the "secret map of Ambermoon" but warned me that to avoid spoiling the game, I should play the game "without the help of this map." 
The brickwork is nice.
The map is of course a replica of Thalion's offices, including some in-jokes: A weak elevator, someone humming upstairs. You can meet:
  • Karsten ("Netsrak") Koeper, the game's designer, a 26-year-old "Thalionic" mage.
  • Erik Simon, the game's producer, a 500-year-old dwarf warrior. 
I guess Karsten was a bit of a workaholic.
  • Christian Jungen, a programmer, a 29-year-old elf mystic.
  • Jurie ("Mando") Horneman, a programmer, a 22-year-old elf thief. 
  • Monika Krawinkel, the graphic artist, a 24-year-old human healer.
Any of them will join the party. They're all at their level caps of 50, and they all have maxed attributes and skills. I otherwise couldn't get them to respond to any keywords.
And they speak every language.
I wasn't here for them, though. I was here for the chests in one of the offices. Among them, they held a copy of every unique item in the game, including the elf's harp, the 7 harp strings, and a completed copy of the harp with the strings attached called the Crystal Harp. That's what I snagged. I noted that the bottle of water from Morag was one of the items in the chest. Is that actually used somewhere? I thought it was a joke. There were some other objects I don't remember, including a silver hand and a hill giant's head.
I could have cheated less by just taking the strings, I suppose.
I rode the eagle back to the Temple of the Brotherhood, entered, and stood before the crystal wall. I strummed the harp. The wall (in a text message) cracked and then shattered. A passage with a stairway lay beyond. I cast my buffing spells and continued.
Billiard parlor walls come a-tumbling down!
The passage beyond had battles with magic guardians and Morag dragons--tough customers, but I had access to all my spells again, plus some scrolls to burn. 
I got plenty more where that came from.
Finally, we came to the machine, which was . . . kind of stupid. For some reason, it had eyes and legs, and was capable of attacking the party on its own. It had more than 999 life points ("Monster Knowledge" just showed asterisks), high statistics, and a small critical chance. Its attack was 240, by far the highest in the game. But it was still just one enemy. It was resistant to magic but not immune. I kept up with healing, fed my spellcasters potions, and had Tar blast him with "Iceball" every round while Selena worked through a stack of 18 scrolls of the same name. 
This is going to take a while.
It took about a dozen rounds. When we killed it, we got 5,333 experience points. The party members hit their final levels: Qamara at 48 (two levels from the maximum) and the others between 36 and 42.
The death of the machine caused the chamber to collapse. We ran for a staircase behind it. 
Sabine is narrating the radio version of the drama.
Triumphant music blared forth. A long text scroll commenced over attractive graphic stills. I'll summarize it, but I'll show at least one shot from each graphic. In the ensuing narrative, we learned:
  • The Temple of Tarbos exploded and collapsed, but the airship was thankfully undamaged. We escaped on the eagle.
Ah, the old load-bearing boss (someone needs to add Ambermoon).
  • We brought elven and human leaders to the island to show them what happened.
  • A lot of people wanted to go to war with the Moranians.
  • But we convinced them that the Moranians already had enough trouble.
  • A peace treaty was signed between Lyramion and Morag, the latter planet now represented by a new government since we (as far as anyone knows) slaughtered the members of the old Council.
Yep, they were all destroyed. In their palaces. None left alive.
  • The ultimate treaty involved at least some water being sent to Morag by airship. There was no word on what we got in return. 
  • A large airship was sent to Kire's Moon to retrieve the dwarves, but those residing in Dor Grestin decided to stay. The dwarves that returned repopulated Gemstone.
They could have come back with me. It would have been more poetic if they had destroyed the machine.
  • Valdyn went to S'Angrila and worked with Moranian scientists to develop a way for him to get home. Eventually, they were able to replicate an orb that would send him back to his world. He returned home after a fond visit with his former companions.
Just "friendship?" We could have had a beauty-and-the-beast situation here.
  • The party dissolved as members went off to "follow their personal desires and goals."
It was one of the better endgame narratives, satisfyingly cleaning up a number of loose ends. I would have liked to see individual stories for the other party members; Selena, for instance, needed to go home as badly as Valdyn did. What does Tar do with the rest of his life now that he's free of the demon? What will be Gryban's new purpose? 
Even though a sequel was planned, nothing ominous set it up during this epilogue. I remain confused about whether the technology we found on Kire's Moon and Morag belongs to the Moranians or some older race that predates all of us.
And this shot clearly shows that the Lyramonic Isles are only a small part of the globe. Why does the world wrap, then? Is the rest all water? If so, we can afford to be generous with the Moranians.
For the final entry, I'll do my best to collect information about what the third game (Ambercomet? Amberasteroid?) would have looked like, and I'll cover the things that I "evaded" in winning this way. I suppose I might be persuaded to reload and do it "right." Is anyone really bothered?
Final time: 82 hours


  1. I don't blame you for truncating the end at all. You've had nothing but marathons lately.

    1. I agree, looks like the only thing you've missed out on is some repetitive grinding.

    2. After 82 hours I agree congratulations are in order, secret ('cheat') room shortcuts notwithstanding.

    3. A win is a win. Another huge game put to bed. Congratulations!

    4. Lawdy... Along with Ultima VII requiring a near infinite amount of repetition and irritations... I don't blame you a bit. I do think it points to the fact that you are now progressively in a realm of longer and longer games, whereas the late 70s and early 80s had many games that were relatively quick and easy. At some point, choices have to be made to keep the blog rolling along!

    5. At some place, it must roll back again, because I can't think of a game that REQUIRES 80+ hours in the last decade or so. Then again, I've only played a minority of games.

    6. Many of the big hitters from this year (Baldur's Gate 3, Tears of the Kingdom, Starfield, Octopath 2, Diablo 4) have some chunky HowLongtoBeat times, so it might be a returning trend. (As you say, though, those are the "main + extra" and "completionist" estimations; critical pathing them is a much shorter process.)

      Congrats on beating this game though, one way or the other. I'm looking forward to seeing your take on Albion down the line. Seeing it come up so many times in the comments during this playthrough made me glad that it's far from forgotten (being available on GOG probably helps).

    7. Unfortunately, the upcoming stretch is probably going to have some of the highest mandatory completion times in the entire list.

      Everything up to this point has been severely constrained by disk space limitations, but we're getting into the CD era now. The ludicrous size of CDs vastly outpaced the storage needs of any reasonable graphics and text for a long time, so if you aren't using a ton of FMV sequences most games aren't going to fill the disc. A lot of developers, especially RPG developers, decided that they really despised all that empty space and wanted to fill it by any means necessary.

  2. Congratulations on the win, and those are some pretty nicely-drawn ending slides.

    1. Yes, the pixel art in the end scenes is gorgeous, and the ending satisfying.

      It’s really a pity the game did not met more success at the time, clearly a lot of work and effort went into it.

    2. The slides seem to be the work of Tobias Franz in his first project. He also did textures for Gothic, art for some games well known in Germany (Die Fugger, Settlers). And I remember playing Demonworld.

      The never released Armalion looks pretty nice.

    3. Armalion was planned as a "Dark Eye"-licensee, and was actually released, sort of. After Ikarion Software went bankrupt during production, with the game apparently about 80% complete, most of the developers were hired by Ascaron, another German developer (and publisher). Ascaron had them finish the game, it was released without the license and in an "original" setting, as "Sacred" in 2004 and became a pretty big seller.

      Sacred is a hack'n'slay action RPG (though fairly heavy on questing and story), and apparently this was how it was going to be from the beginning.

      Source: part of a transcript of a chat with a developer of the game found in the Aventuria wiki:

  3. Amberharp. Does a (handheld) harp have seven strings (is that even called a harp)? Should have made it a bass and limit it to four.

    My motivation shrank, too, when I was reminded I had to visit seven palaces for the endgame. But the palaces are all one level and very small, so it wasn't that bad. It also means you really didn't miss much. You pretty much covered the game completely, no reason to go back to it - unless it makes you feel better.

    1. Loose ends:
      - It is mentioned somewhere that your ship is too small to get all the dwarves back.
      - The water bottle belongs to a mini-sidequest that you would certainly have solved (there's not much to solve, just come across the right location). It's pretty much what pushes you to your max level at the end.
      - I fought the magic guards by moving my fast fighters among the frontline (the magic guards will miss) while pelting them with ranged weapons. Makes the combat slow but pretty risk-free (and slightly boring).
      - I was always interested in what ending variations there are for Valdyn. Unfortunately, my memory is already spotty on this. I _think_ I found the globe to Valdyns world during the game, and the ending sequence is slightly different then. I wonder, does he stay behind if you never use the machine at all, or is there always a happy ending?

    2. I mean, I think in that sense we got lucky. Harps have varied the number of strings depending on location and time period, but the number is always greater than seven. That's not even an octave.

    3. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 3, 2023 at 5:42 PM

      I can only echo @Buck's comments, and agree that a seven-piece-quest (even with coordinates) felt like a bit too much at the end of the game. But (as usual) perhaps one would have felt differently about such things when playing thirty years ago.

      Anyway: I'm not bothered at how you finished. You do you, as the kids say these days.

    4. Most guitars have only six strings, but have a range of about 4 octaves. A different string for each note isn't necessary.

    5. I'm speaking partly from ignorance because I don't play the harp, but the harp doesn't have a fret, so I believe that it's just one note per string, particularly on the handheld variety depicted in the game.

    6. You should be able to get a range out of a single string by using harmonics, i.e. "fretting" by briefly placing your fingertip on the string.

      Ancient lyres apparently had 4-8 strings. I guess there was no reason for 7 in particular except for putting some content on there if you design an entire moon.

      Oh, there's one thing you did miss. A ridiculously hard number puzzle (not hard because of the math, but because of figuring out what the text refers to).

    7. Frets aren't strictly necessary either, and there are fretless guitars (basses anyway). The frets just make it easier to hit the notes of the diatonic scale without hitting some in between tone that wouldn't sound right. On a harp, you can pinch the string as you pluck it to raise the pitch, or use harmonics as Buck mentioned.

    8. Regardless of what's possible, harps have traditionally had a lot of strings while guitars have not. I believe that one string is pitched per note and sure, I guess if you need to alter the pitch you can, while with a guitar you HAVE to if you want to play more than 6 notes.

      What's depicted in the game isn't even a harp anyway. It's a lyre--which apparently in ancient times did have as few as 7 strings.

    9. Buck, can you give more information about what you're talking about in the last paragraph? You're not spoiling anything at this point.

    10. The remaining palaces are about 50% combat and puzzles - mostly hidden levers, illusionary traps. One palace has two riddle mouths. The first one asks of the sum of all numbers - they are found written on crystal spheres behind illusionary walls and just need to be added up, pretty simple. The second one asks: "Was ist alles zusammen, wenn unterm Strich Kugeln sind und hinter dem x Säulen stehen?" / "What is everything together, when there are spheres below the line and columns behind the x".

      Most walkthroughs just give the answer, the only one with an explanation is this one: (search for "301"). In hindsight, it looks pretty simple. I found it pretty obvious what "unterm Strich" and "x" refers to. But it's very easy to miscount somewhere, hfr gur ahzoref ba gur fcurerf vafgrnq bs gur ahzoref _bs_ gur fcurerf sbe gur qvivqre, naq V guvax zl zvfgnxr jnf abg ernyvmvat gung gur fcurerf orsber gur svefg evqqyr zbhguf pbhagrq, gbb. Maybe I would have figured it out myself if it had been earlier in the game, but at this stage it was very unwelcome.

    11. It's obviously correct that harps should have a lot of strings, but you can get a lot done with fewer even without frets. Check out the monochord:

    12. Reading about all this, it doesn't sound like it would have been that bad at the end, more a complex set of factors that resulted in you really tiring of this game. Would have been nice to read about those experiences, but oh well.

    13. Yeah, I could have pushed through it if I'd waited a couple of days. The game went on a bit too long, but as I just wrote in my draft of the final entry, I wasn't bone-weary with it the way I was with Serpent Isle.

    14. The lyra and the kithara had often 7 strings and those instruments do also look more like the image of the "harp" in the game.

  4. "A bottle of water in the store costs 6,000 gold."

    Quick reminder that real wars for sweet water are predicted within the century, sad but true...

    1. I would think that melting glaciers would supply all we need.

    2. Big arte documentary about the aridness in Southern France which already led to street riots concerning the water's distribution, same thing in Northern Italy. I'm not even talking about the Sahel zone.

      Sorry for being a spoilsport and all.

    3. The situation is not as dire as often painted. Passive desalination processes have become very efficient recently. It will, as always, be a matter of distribution rather than global scarcity.

  5. The third planned game in the trilogy would've been called "Amberworld". Eric Simon, co-founder of Thalion, and Wolfgang Walk, who was working on the "Spiritual sequel" Albion, talked about that a bit on separate occasions in German gaming podcasts. A storyline was already planned out and work would've begun right after the planned PC and Atari ST ports of Ambermoon shipped. Those never came to be, though, because Thalion went defunct while working on the ports. Some members of the Team went to Blue Byte and used some of their ideas for the planned third game for Albion 1995) while there.

    1. I'd have preferred Amberkuiperbeltobject!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I like Amberroid...

      ↑ I was being fancy with my italics HTML and somehow got the slash wrong.

    4. @Radiant : Did you know that the first Kuiper belt object (discovered just in 1992) was named Albion?

    5. No, I did not. Actually I know about them from Nakar's Let's Play series.

    6. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 4, 2023 at 6:17 PM

      @Abacos: fascinating - I feel like I should have known that. Wikipedia suggests that it was only dubbed 'Albion' in 2018 (presumably by the IAU and/or Minor Planet Center?) but there's no citation given for how, or even when, the name came about.

    7. Where the heck did I hear that it would be called Ambersun, then?!? I mean, that even makes sense with the colour!

    8. I always believed the third part was to be called Ambersun, but I've got no faintest clue where I took it from.

  6. It seems that "energieglobes" is a bad translation, as "energie" is the German word for energy; apparently they were called "energy balls" in Dragonflight. That part of this game also uses the wall tiles from the earlier game.

    "I'm not sure what the lines mean, but I never had to decode a door with a line."

    Above the line are two red triangles and an orange disc, meaning (1+1)*10=20, while below are two orange triangles, meaning 10+10=20 as well, so the line probably just means that the two sections are supposed to have the same value.

    "We reach the city of S'Angrila"

    Ugh. While in principle it's nice to see a CRPG making a reference to something outside the usual fantasy / scifi / Monty Python stuff, Shangri-La is so overused in general popular culture that it doesn't really feel any fresher.

    1. The funny thing is, until your comment I regarded "S'Angrila" as a variant of "sangrail" or "sangreal" from Arthurian literature. But now I think that they were referencing Shangri-La.

    2. I read it as sangria but I didn't think that was what they meant.

    3. I also got sangria from that, and now I want some sangria.

    4. This calls for a SANGRIA instead of a GIMLET :D
      Congratulations for the two recent wins, this and Ultima 7.2. They both sounded like endurance challenges towards the end.

    5. @Abacos: a Special And New Game Rating In Ambermoon
      (instead of the Game Innovation, Merriment, Likability, and Engagement Test)?

  7. This is utterly unacceptable! You must go back to the beginning and replay the whole game honestly to atone for your sins!

    1. Well, now that I know about those Thalion offices, I suspect I could "replay" the game in about 15 minutes.

    2. Chester is being absolutely honest about what he would do if forced to replay Ambermoon!

  8. >Is anyone really bothered
    For what it's worth... Well frankly I am interested in your experience of a whole playthrough especially when it's a good game (to me this one really is just from since I'm not bothered by length or linearity). But it's still you blog and better than having a crpg burnout I guess. Anyway thanks for bothering with long and linear crpg's as much as you can bare.

    I'm really curious to your experience of Elder Scrolls Arena since it's open world and non linear but on the other hand really bloated as hell and therefore far too long for what it does offer. It's more of a technical achievements and foreshadowing of things to come than a good game. I wouldn't be surprised if it stil rates higher on the GIMLET than U7-2 and Ambermoon though.

    1. I'm really looking forward to the first TES game myself. I'm so familiar with the conventions of III onward that I'm eager to see how the lore and mechanics develop. I could say the exact same thing about Fallout, but of course that's farther off.

    2. You could quietly replace the Arena game on your upcoming list with TES:Arena!

    3. I've got TES games in my library awaiting playtime (along with a few thousand hours of other games). Perhaps I'll activate them whenever you get that far.

  9. The Evil Thoughts paragraph might be the funniest thing you've ever written on this blog, and so, so true. I don't begrudge you for skipping some endgame slog. Onward to Bloodstone!

  10. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 3, 2023 at 5:58 PM

    Congratulations on finishing this one up. Looking forward to seeing the final review and score, as well as the hints toward what AmberWorld might have become.

    I'm also curious to see how the final GIMLET compares. My own GIMLET ranking was lryybj zvahf erq gvzrf sbhe -- yvxr nzorezbba, qbvat qrprag va zbfg pngrtbevrf ohg abg bhgfgnaqvat va nal.

  11. This is awesome! You actually acted the same way I did some 30 years ago. I was so tired of the yellow moon after myriads of pointless battles and inescapable traps, that I also cheated using Netsraks staff. I loved the game in spite of that though.

    1. Btw: the last game in the trilogy would've been called "Amberworlds". Eric Simon or Karsten Koeper stated so in the guest book of my old Crpg Website.

  12. "Thalion's first game, which I reviewed a lifetime ago in 2014"

    A lifetime ago? Wasn't 2014 just three years ago or so?

    Oh. Oh no...

  13. “I suppose I might be persuaded to reload and do it "right." Is anyone really bothered?“

    Not as long you amend rule n. 5.

    …just kidding.

    You could have been probably wrapped up within a couple of hours more, the palaces are small but they have annoying traps and fake walls; they are really minor variations of the first palace. You really haven’t missed anything and probably the whole experience would not yield more than an additional paragraph or two.

    Like in Serpent Isle, it’s kind of mind blowing that the devs felt the need to pad the game at this stage.

    1. Don’t forget: games were very expensive those days, gamers were often young with low budgets and the number of games many people could afford was relatively low.

      My friends usually praised games which you could play for weeks after school, while artistic gems that you finished in a weekend (I am looking at you Loom) really made us angry.

      Back in the day, even if you just played 1-2 hrs per day, it meant games that wanted to entertain you for more than a couple of weeks needed to be that long. It was a feature that was praised in tests and featured in ads.

      Of course, today I think very differently about the tendency to bloat games.

    2. As you get older... Time is consumed by so many other things too!

    3. "Not as long you amend rule n. 5."

      What does this have to do with Shin Megami Tensei?

    4. I do stand by rule #5. I didn't use a cheat or walkthrough. I used a mechanic that exists within the game.

      I often hear that the length of the game is a feature, but as I argued in my entry for U7P2, I think that most people are thinking of the number of hours of the game that could be consumed in optional play. There are many modern games that are effectively endless when it comes to optional play but which have main stories lasting far fewer hours than Ambermoon.

    5. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 4, 2023 at 6:13 PM

      If I play DOOM, the game accepts "IDKFA" and knows what to do with it -- but it's still a cheat code. Regardless, no one here is arguing that you (CB, CRPG Addict) made the wrong call here.

    6. At the risk of starting a multi-comment thread, I would consider using the secret developer room an exploit rather than a cheat, so in my book, Rule 5 remains untarnished.

  14. I'm dying to see your thoughts on Betrayal at Krondor eventually, but I definitely want you to have a long, relaxing break beforehand. Hitting that right after these last two would numb even me

    1. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 4, 2023 at 10:55 AM

      Agreed. If BaK comes up in the next few months: defer, delay.

    2. BaK is not a big game by any means? I mean it is an explorer's paradise as (almost) each area can be revisited each chapter and contents will be different, but unless min-maxing (which isn't really needed), it's a relaxing game that is not too long

  15. I checked my final save - my ending text for Valdyn was slightly different, I think because I found the yellow ball that activates the teleporter to his homeworld before the ending. The text with the researchers developing a ball is missing.

    I assume that he gets sent home in the end even if you don't use the machine at all, but I'm not going that far back to test it.

    (You can't send him home early, or visit Lionheart yourself - he refuses to enter the teleporter until your mission is finished)

    1. That's cool that the game varies the endgame text this way. I wonder if there are more possible variances than just the stuff to do with Valdyn.

    2. There are actually 3 ending variations. One if you finish without Valdyn, and then the two mentioned ones (with and without the yellow orb). Unfortunately nothing about Selena.

  16. Connecting this and Chet's remark "I noted that the bottle of water from Morag was one of the items in the chest. Is that actually used somewhere? I thought it was a joke.":

    According to information collected on this walkthrough and hints page (mostly in German), there is a Moranian called S'Krel at a tower located at X 18 / Y 12 who is dying of thirst; if you bought the bottle and give it to him, he hands you a yellow orb which Valdyn then can use at the end as a way to get home without the need for Moranian scientists to develop it first.

    1. (The above was supposed to be a reply to Buck)

      "There were some other objects I don't remember, including a silver hand and a hill giant's head."

      In the orc caves near Spannenberg there was a hill giant called 'Reg' which you killed and then brought his head back to Baron George in the town to receive a reward.

      No idea about the "silver hand" (?!), though.

    2. AlphabeticalAnonymousNovember 4, 2023 at 6:10 PM

      The leader of the bandits threatening Spannenberg (way back in Act 1) is named Silverhand. I dimly recall that if you choose to fight him instead of accepting his parley, your combat reward is the hand (presumably, his hand) which you can show to the Baron for your reward (a Holy Horn and X thousand gold).

    3. Right. The hand also grants a huge amount of lockpicking skill. But unfortunately you normally have to return it to proceed. Moreover it is no equipment so you would not get the increase. At the end it is just a neat little story detail the devs added. Or maybe they planned to add it as a piece of equipment which makes up for the missed out critical strike trainer.

  17. Congratulations on the win. The other palaces were not that interesting anyway so no loss in not doing them.

    Did you ask Rinakles about the other three companions? He tells you a paragraph about what each one is doing after the events of Dragonflight. Nothing important but a nice touch.

    For those magical guards, I have found two ways to reliably deal with them, but both feel very much like an exploit. The critical hits were just so annoying that I did that anyway.

    First you can load up on enough magical armor (I don't remember how much you need), so they can't hit you at all.

    Second option is to put Valdyn and Selena in the front row and just let them dance left and right each round. They are faster than the guards and will never be hit. The other party members can then just use range weapons to kill those guards.

  18. Agree on the method, grants on the win. Though it should suffer similarly on the rating for introducing the nth hour Assemblement quest.

    Shame about the padding, but I have a good feeling from what I've seen so far. Enjoyable looking game, mostly!

  19. Besides all the repetitive grinding which is also a problem of modern games: At the end one has to admit that 80 hours of gameplay with a huge variety of graphics, animations, locations, story and music is quite an achievement, considering the year (1993), the platform (Amiga) and the used floppy disc space (7,9 Megabyte)…

  20. I don't really care, but this IS the second game that you've taken a lot of shortcuts with recently. You skipped a big chunk of "Serpent Isle" by talking to the glitched Chaos Hierophant instead of freeing the real one.

    1. I don't recall that he did that on purpose? Serpent Isle is just the kind of game where you can stumble into that sort of situation.

  21. In case you didn't notice Netsrak is Karsten read backwards.


I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters. I will delete comments containing profanity on a case-by-case basis.

3. NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. If you don't want to log in to Google to comment, either a) choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank, or b) sign your anonymous comment with a preferred user name in the text of the comment itself.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

5. Comments on my blog are not a place for slurs against any race, sex, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or mental or physical disability. I will delete these on a case-by-case basis depending on my interpretation of what constitutes a "slur."

Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

I will delete any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.