Friday, December 7, 2012

Don't Go Alone: Won! (With Final Rating)

To paraphrase from the esteemed Doctor Cox: "Good god in heaven, Don't Go Alone, there are just so very many ways for me to say this to you: Never; not in a million years; absolutely not; no way, Jose; no chance, Lance; nyet; negatory; mm-mm; nuh-uh; uh-uh; and of course my own personal favorite of all time, man falling off a cliff, NNNNOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooo....pff."
Don't Go Alone
United States
Sterling Silver Software (developer); Accolade (publisher)
Released 1989 for DOS
Date Started: 3 December 2012
Date Won: 6 December 2012
Total Hours: 10
Difficulty: Easy (1/5)
Final Rating: 18
Ranking at Time of Posting: 7/73 (10%)
Ranking at Game #455: 114/455 (25%)
Don't Go Alone, aside from being a somewhat boring, pointless game, committed an unpardonable sin in the final act. For the first seven levels, I ground against monster after monster, getting experience point rewards of around 500-2000 each. My characters increased an average of 1.5 character levels per game level, which felt like steady progress.

Suddenly, on the last three levels, the dynamic changed. Encounters against much tougher creatures--blood demons, demon lords, stone giants, "powers"--became the norm, delivering experience point rewards of 40,000 or more per battle.

This was the highest experience point total I received.

"What's the problem?" you ask. It's this: the game caps you at Level 10, which you reach at 300,000 experience points. All my characters hit Level 10 while they were still on Dungeon Level 7. For the next three levels, I was getting hundreds of thousands of experience points for no reason. I ended the game with well over 1 million experience points--700,000 more than I needed. Level caps are annoying enough, but to have them so easily reachable well before the final stages of the game is simply unforgivable.

The end came very swiftly after my--I'm sorry, but that level cap thing is completely indefensible. What the hell were they thinking?! The only thing this game had going for it was steady character development, and they utterly ruined it. How do these developers sleep at night? No wonder they never made another RPG; RPG players must have been organizing a boycott of this company. 1.1 million experience points, of which only 300,000--that's less than 30%--do any good! Jesus.

See how I have 1,021,087 experience points here? This screen looked exactly the same back when I had 300,000 experience points.

Right. Okay. Sorry. The end came very swiftly after my last posting. I found two gold keys in random combats on Level 7. There were some corridors that shocked my characters with violent images of corpses and such, raising their fear with every step, but otherwise it was no big deal. Levels 8 and 9 were co-joined, with multiple stairways up and down. I had to visit five areas on Level 9 from Level 8--corresponding with the chambers of someone's sons (the back story was unclear here, perhaps from the lack of a manual), in each finding a scrap of paper with part of a spell I would need against the Ancient One. If you're interested, it combined uranium, neodymium, thorium, and titanium.

If I ever become an evil warlord, the first thing I'm going to do is have my minions sweep up any scraps of paper that give clues about how to defeat me.

From Level 8, the five gold keys unlocked a series of doors leading to Level 10. 

A small part of the huge Level 10.

Level 10 was huge, with chambers for I think every creature in the game. Although I wasn't getting any more levels, I did increase significantly in firepower, going from weapons that did an average of 8-10 points of damage to those that did 50-60 points in just a few minutes. I ended the game with three characters with bazookas and one with a "spirit wand," which appears to be the game's most powerful weapon but only usable by the psychic.

When I first stumbled on Level 10, I had trouble--for the first sustained time in the game--against  many of the foes, but this was soon rectified with the better weapons, and the game became easy again.

I'll also have them look for notes that outline the secret path to my lair.

There were a number of navigation puzzles in the level, making it simultaneously more interesting and more annoying than the previous 9. At one point, I thought I'd fully explored the level and couldn't figure out what to do next, but my grandfather (psychically, I guess) whispered to me to use the "auric acid" spell. I wasn't sure where to use it, so I just used it on a wall near where I got his message, and sure enough it brought me to a teleporter.

This is not a puzzle you solve through trial and error.

The teleporter dumped me in a large maze that I could only escape via a secret door. At that point, I was in an area full of one-square rooms, surrounded by secret doors, in which a misstep sent me back to the beginning of the level. Clues to navigate this maze were written in the walls of the dungeon, but I had written them down wrong, so it took me a while to find the right path. At the end of it was the Ancient One.

The Ancient One looks suitably terrifying, I have to admit.

I lost my first two fights against the Ancient One. Losing sends you back to Level 1, on the first square of the maze. I wasn't having any of that, and I reloaded both times before I found the combination of offensive spells, weapons, and defensive spells that seemed to do the trick. Or perhaps it was just luck. In any event, he died.

It doesn't look like he's been treating grandpa very well.

With the Ancient One's death, my grandfather and I (I still don't know which of my characters' grandfather he was) were reunited, and we fled the mansion just ahead of its self-destruction. Since the mansion was equal in size to 10 Boeing factories stacked on top of each other, I assume news of its destruction was carried on CNN around the world.

This sequence of images was probably the best part of the game:

Okay: A) What does it mean that my grandfather is "vindicated"?; and B) Doesn't it look like there's only four of us escaping the mansion? What happened to grandpa? After all that, did we leave him behind?

The game immediately offered me the opportunity to take my Level 10 characters back to Level 1 and take another jaunt down through the maze, which I would not do if I were locked in prison and this game was literally my only form of entertainment.

If you do choose to return, you get this message. How did he rebuild it so quickly?! It was a smoldering ruin just moments ago!

I have to say, though, that the series of cut screens redeemed the game a bit. I am a bit of a sucker for a scripted, cinematic ending. We don't get many of those, but I've been lucky enough to experience four or five in a row.

Let's GIMLET this game and get out of here.

1. Game World. This one is tough to assess because I never found a manual, so I'm not sure how much back story it provided. What I can say is that in-game, there's hardly any story. You never learn what the Ancient One is doing, why he's trapped your grandfather, or the history of the mansion. I would have been prepared to give the game some credit for its horror setting except it doesn't really have one. It feels much more like a standard high fantasy game with the exception of guns and modern-looking characters. The mansion is huge and mostly empty. Score: 2.

2. Character Creation and Development. Good on the surface, lousy in reality. You can only choose from 16 pre-rolled characters--one of each of four classes--and your only real option is to set the names. The four classes really don't distinguish themselves during gameplay, except by what weapons and armor they can and cannot use. For instance, I didn't find the "chemist" notably better at formulas, nor was there anything technical for the "technician" to do. Level progress is steady for 3/4 of the game, and the characters get palpably more powerful, but I don't have to repeat what happens at the end. Score: 2.

Choosing among three homely women and "Kotar"--I think that's a Cree name--for my psychic.
3. NPC Interaction. No NPCs, not even any that say single lines. Score: 0.

4. Encounters and Foes. There are no encounters that offer any role-playing choices at all, just a few puzzles that, until the end, weren't notable. The "foes" are diverse in name and graphic, but not in how you combat them. They don't even do different kinds of damage--just different intensity of damage. Areas do respawn if you want to grind, and the encounters are a balance between fixed and random. Score: 2.

Could this vampire possibly be more cliched?

5. Magic and Combat. You have only the most basic options in combat: attack, cast, flee. There are really no tactics, except perhaps to know exactly when to cast that healing (fear reduction spell). Combat is extremely rote and boring for these reasons. The "chemical formula" system of magic sounds like a good idea but just comes across as stupid and clumsy, although I suppose it's interesting that you sometimes only get partial formulas and have to find clues to fill in the rest. Mildly interesting. I found most of the spells useless except for the mapping spell, the most powerful "fear reduction" spell I had at any given moment, "auric acid" (a puzzle spell), and the final protection spell against the Ancient One. Score: 2.

Reducing my fear with a few spells.

6. Equipment. Perhaps the only tolerable part of the game, and even then not very. I admit that armor and weapon progression was fairly satisfying--you find something new almost every level--and there was a wide variety of utility items and protection items that (theoretically) made the game easier. The problem was that although the game assured me that my "string of garlic" was offering some protection against undead, it was hard to really see it. Nowhere do you see any statistics on how much damage you or your enemies are doing, nor how much you're deflecting.

The demon lord had a machine gun the entire time, but all he did was snarl and howl at me.

On the other hand, the variety of weapons and armor was just silly--a weird combination of swords and guns, medieval armor and SCUBA gear. The idea that three characters could attack repeatedly in narrow mansion corridors with bazookas or elephant guns is just nonsense. And a lot of it was just worthless. I carried mirrors and compasses until the end of the game that I never used. Much was made of my technician finding an "atomic generator," but as far as I could tell it only powered a few mid-range weapons that I discarded when I found better ones. Score: 3.

Somehow, this fits into my backpack.

7. Economy. None. Score: 0.

8. Quests. The game has a main quest with only one outcome, and I still can't help but make fun of it a bit. Sure, one's grandfather is a valued member of the family, but a quest to rescue him doesn't feel exactly...epic. I mean, can you think of any book or film in which the rescue of a grandparent drives the story? Anyway, no side quests, no alternate outcomes, and no role-playing. Score: 2.

Man, I'm still burned about that level cap thing. That was such rubbish.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. These are the only features for which I give the game credit. The hallways, though featureless, weren't hard on the eyes, and the monster portraits were varied and well-designed. There was nothing special about the sound--a lot of blooping--but nothing offensive. The controls couldn't have been easier, and in every stage the input options are clearly listed on the screen. Score: 4.

10. Gameplay. "Non-linear" only in the sense that the levels are huge, and I suppose you could charge down them at your own pace. The game was too easy and, because it was too easy, with no interesting encounters, it was too long. I can't see any reason to replay it, which makes it all the more odd that the game gives you the ability to do that immediately. Score: 1.

The final rating is 18, tying the game with Galdregon's Domain, and reflecting how little I enjoyed it. The funny thing is, in broad strokes it doesn't appear a lot different than The Dark Heart of Uukrul: both feature dungeon exploration through relatively (graphically) featureless corridors, lots of combat, and a party of four characters with distinct professions. There are a lot of ways that this game "sells" on paper; it was just blundered in execution.

As I said in my first posting, it was a weird one-shot for the developers and companies involved. None of them appear to have prior experience with CRPGs, and one wonders what made them decide to dive into the market. Don't Go Alone really does feel like it was written by people with little CRPG experience. I tried to find an e-mail address for Dennis Koble, who's still in the software business, but I was unable.

Well, at least I contributed to the literature. If it wasn't for these recent postings and one walkthrough, the game would barely be mentioned in the last 22 years. Chuck has commented a few times on these postings, and I hope he comments here on what drew him to even create a walkthrough for this game (it looks like he also played it without a manual) despite what appears to be a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it:

Q: Where's the complete item list? Why didn't you find all the keys? What kind of a FAQ writer are you?
A: The lazy kind. If you find things that I've missed, let me know and I'll add them in. Or just write your own FAQ--you might not have noticed, but mine's the only one around at the moment.

A couple of reviews are mysteriously positive. MobyGames reviewer "Mr. Hapton" calls it "a decent RPG." He seems to find value in the monsters and the "formulas," although he admits that he might be seeing the game through rose-colored glasses because his dad gave it to him. More baffling is the rave by Bob Guerra, writing in the February 1990 QuestBusters, whose questionable tastes are best encapsulated in a few of his lines:

  • "One of the things that I really like about Don't Go Alone is the way its combat system tosses together a wide variety of totally unrelated elements with no rhyme, reason, or excuse." That's one of the things you "really like"? Thematic consistency is bad?
  • "Best of all, you won't have to save up a fortune in gold to afford these weapons. Everything you need during the game can either be found lying around, or retrieved after slaying specific monsters." Here, he's somehow managing to put a positive spin on the game not having any economy.
  • "It's the type of game that makes you want to keep going." I don't even...I need a drink.

At least Scorpia came through. In the November 1989 Computer Gaming World, she lamented the lack of puzzles and said that "the game [has] a very empty feel. There is no real substance to it. Walking along corridor after corridor, going through empty room after empty room, with nothing much to do besides fight monsters, soon becomes boring." She concluded that it was for "beginners only." Glad to have some vindication.

All right, Drakkhen lovers: Before you get too excited, we're going to be taking a little detour to an early CRPG (it's a surprise), and then I need to play NetHack for a while before I forget how. But Drakkhen is the next new game. I've never seen it before and have very little idea what to expect.

With the vacancy, Girlfriend Construction Set just floated to the bottom of the "coming up" list. Don't bother telling me it's not a CRPG: MobyGames says it is, and there's no way I'm not giving this one a try.


  1. "The Ancient One looks suitably terrifying, I have to admit."

    Looks like Ozzy Osbourne with green hair.

    1. I was thinking an undead Dr. Rockso, minus the clown nose.

    2. So that's the white stuff under Ancient One's nose. :D
      Another look-a-like being 80's era Dee Snider.

  2. I think you should skip Dragons of Flame...or at least don't try to finish it. It's not worth it. As far as I remember, it's just a linear arcade hack'n'slash, similar to Golden Axe.

    The characters have basic D&D stats and some have spells, but that doesn't make it a CRPG.

    1. I remember someone else telling me this. I decided to keep it because it sounded cool and I wanted to check it out, but I agree: if it doesn't seem CRPGish enough, I won't continue with it.

  3. The German game magazine PowerPlay 1/1990 gave 75% with comments saying "great story, nice atmospheric graphics and many items, monsters and a very good user interface [...] Just the idea of the haunted house is superb".

    In the same issue Hero's Quest got 81%...

    Don't Go Alone also made it into the PowerPlay Top 100 Games of 1990 issue where I read about it first. I tried playing it twice in the past 10 years but it was just too boring.
    (page 62)

    1. "JUST THE IDEA of a haunted house is superb." Doesn't matter if the execution sucks.

    2. The game also got kind words from the usually reliable Home of the Underdogs:

      Like Jan, for the past 10 years I meant to hunt DGA down and play it based on this mini-review and intrigued by the horror theme, but never found the time or disposition. Now thanks to Chet I may cross it off my already ridiculous enough list of oldies "to try one day".

    3. Well, you never know. It might be a masterpiece and I'm just immune to it.

  4. The ending actually looks pretty good considering some its competition *coughs*Eyeofthebeholder*coughs*

    Also, I just realized something, was this game launched after the Call of Cthulhu board games? it has a strong vibe to it

    1. Well after. Wikipedia says the games came out in 1981.

    2. I wonder if they were aiming for a Call of Cthulhu RPG but couldn't get the rights for it

    3. I rather doubt the devs were inspired by Chaosium's CoC RPG. Nothing in the screenshots looks like anything other than Universal/Hammer-style horror.

    4. That Random Game Blogger: The Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium is a tabletop roleplaying game, not a board game. It is also the primary game I run if you have any questions about it.

    5. @Samuel. Even the ending is snatched from Poe's Fall of the House of Usher, but the story itself seems to me inspired by HPL's Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

      Maybe due to that story the whole scenario - relative disappearing after dabbling with supernatural and investigators finding out what happened - is just stereotypical CoC scenario.

      @Canageek - There's Arkham Horror.

    6. The original Arkham Horror (not Fantasy Flight's infinitely superior remake) -does- date back to the 80s. That said I'm not really seeing any resemblance to it in this game.

    7. @ Canageek: Yeah I know it's a tabletop roleplaying game, should have been more specific, sorry about that :P

      @ Samuel Erkison: That's too bad... then again, an RPG inspired off of Hammer studios Movies sounds like a great idea in theory

  5. To answer your question: I discovered the game when I was 10 years old, back when it came out, as someone had bought it for a computer lab my parents were using and it was the only (non-sports) game there. That week was the only time I played it for over a decade, but it stuck in my head.

    Circa 2003, just out of college, I discovered Abandonware sites and hunted down Don't Go Alone based on my recollections of it. I played through the entire game fueled by nostalgia, but was annoyed by the things I couldn't find and the otherwise complete lack of internet presence for the game. (GameFAQs didn't even have a listing for it at the time; I had to email them and request it!) So I played through a second time, keeping careful notes and logging all of the weapons, armor and spells, figuring that somebody should, why not me?

    (This wouldn't be the only time: My Livejournal hosts the only FAQs for fangames Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes and Zelda: PuzzleDude's Quest, again because I was proud of finding my way through them unassisted and nobody had done it before.)

    So really, this was fueled by my 10-year-old self's fascination with this game, rather than any real measure of quality. A few years ago, I also wrote a Call of Cthulhu tabletop module based on this, that condensed the gameplay and embellished the plot into something fun. Sooner or later I'll get that properly illustrated and put it up on

    1. That makes sense. Childhood nostalgia is a powerful force. Thanks for offering that walkthrough; it filled in some holes from a lack of a manual, and if not for you, I wouldn't have been able to finish the game (without starting over).

    2. GMBeowulf: I'd love for more stuff to run my group through if you need a playtest group.

    3. That'd be cool; it would be nice to have playtesters who didn't already know my style. Send me an email at chuckro15 at aol dot com (the same email that's in the FAQ; it's still active) and I'll send you over a working draft of the module.

    4. Like GMBeowulf, I also hunted this game down after many years of nostalgia. I was about 6 when it came out, and my cousin had an IBM with 2 games: Don't Go Alone and The Third Courier. I'm 28 now, and Third Courier is just as frustrating now as it was then, but Don't Go Alone... man I just don't have the patience for.

  6. Just wondering, why do you play NetHack 3.0 instead of 3.4.3, which is the latest and most stable?

    Also, you should play ToME, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and Brogue. They are the best roguelikes. Especially the latter, which is a simple game in the vein of the original rogue. Roguelikes lost their way. Brogue returns to that fast gameplay and simplicity - meaning more sheer fun. ToME is a lot more like a straight hack 'n' slash and Crawl is basically a simplified NetHack focusing on fun but it has changed significantly since then by adding an awesome deity system and more. Hell, you can't even compare them anymore.

    1. If you look on my sidebar, I have a "Master Game List," and it shows that I'm going in chronological order through the development of CRPGs. Since Brogue and Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup don't occur until the 2000s, it will be a while before I get there.

      In my first NetHack posting, I explained that the game had gone through so many versions that I felt better justified playing each major release as a separate game. I played 2.3e among my 1987 games, 3.03 now, and other versions in the future.

  7. "The game immediately offered me the opportunity to take my Level 10 characters back to Level 1 and take another jaunt down through the maze, which I would not do if I were locked in prison and this game was literally my only form of entertainment."

    I chortled for about five minutes when I read this. Oh, how I love this blog.

    GCS will amuse you for about five minutes, it's pretty budget.

    1. I can't wait until we get to the point we can force Chet to suffer through weird hentai RPGs. Monster Girl Quest, Slavemaker.

      ...or is Girlfreind Construction Set not what I'm thinking it is? >.>

  8. It's weird Drakkhen was from this era. On the graphical stand point It's 10 times ahead everything you played so far. Prepare to be amazed (At least I was, when I was 14)

    I really tried to like it (extended equipment, variuos spell, character progression, vast world to explore ). But in the end, the puzzle held me back.

    1. I played Drakkhen as a kid and recall that the graphics simply blew me away but that the gameplay was confusing to me, the story boring and relatively non-existent, and the difficulty unforgiving.

      Of course, some of that could be chalked up to me being a youngster and not understanding what I was doing. But I played Pool of Radiance back in that era as well and didn't have trouble with it.

    2. Considering the year it came out, the game is a remarkable technical achievement. However, as is usual for the era, the Amiga version is probably better; at least in the sound department.

      Also, as a technical tip for Chet, in case he needs it, an abandonware site recommends setting DOSBox to 750-1000 cycles for this game.

  9. "3. NPC Interaction. No NPCs, not even any that say single lines. Score: 0."

    Hmmm... isn't your grandfather sort of an NPC? He does contact you from time to time with those psychic messages (like the one to use auric acid). He's not a well-executed NPC, but it seems the game should get at least one point here.

    1. Yeah, I can't really see him as an "NPC," or I'd have to count every game that has messages on the walls as having "NPCs." An NPC has to show up and either give you some kind of option or have some kind of personality.

    2. Oh, sure, that makes sense. I guess I thought that since it was a person "speaking" and not just a message on the wall then it would count as an NPC. But I suppose, functionally, speaking, he was just a message on a wall since you couldn't interact with him.

    3. I admit it's on the fence, but since it would only be one person in any event, I don't want to give DGA extra points for it.

  10. That line at the end about how grandpa's visage appears... I got the impression from the screen that grandpa was a ghost - maybe the Ancient One had trapped his spirit after he passed which would explain why he wasn't with you.

    I suppose alternatively, he couldn't keep up since he's old and you left him to explode with the house. I guess I wouldn't put that past the developers after the description of this game - the idea makes me smirk a bit.

    1. No, I know it looks like it, but that was the "scene fading," not grandpa-as-a-ghost. I just hit the screen capture button too fast. I realize it looks confusing, so I just fired up the game, won it again, and took a shot at more opportune time. I replaced the one above.

    2. Well...wait. The updated screenshot clearly says that it's the "visage" of my grandfather talking to me. Perhaps he died at the hands of the Ancient One after all.

    3. Thanks for the update. Now that I can see how he looks, I have to say grandpa looks kinda creepy.

      "The visage of your Grandfather appears" would indeed make sense if you've encountered him in the form of a ghostly apparition; then again, it might just be a very awkward way of saying "Through the smoke and vapors you recognize your Grandfather's face". The game does seem to usually use the word "appears", instead of saying that you see or you've found something. It could be the same thing here.

      Alas, perhaps we were never meant to learn the true fate of Grandfather and his horde of 16 grandchildren of which only 4 loved him enough to risk being scared by otherwise completely harmless ghosts.

    4. So, I don't know why I even care, but now that I study the screen shots, I think what the game is trying to say is that the Ancient One was actually POSSESSING my grandfather. The AO sort of looks like a hulked-up version of grandpa, with the mustache and everything. I guess when I won, the AO vanished like Saruman from Theoden, leaving grandpa behind. Grandpa looks beat up because I've been shooting him with bazookas. Maybe he succumbed to his wounds on the way out.

    5. I can almost imagine the four characters discussing how to safely rescue grandpa:

      Joplin: "Since the Ancient One is directly possessing Grandpa, we need to find a way to draw him out without harming Grandpa."
      Billie: "The safest way would be a psychically mediated exorcism".
      Basie: "Perhaps I could brew a potion... I mean, err, I recommend a chemically induced coma for the old chap. That should facilitate the rescue."
      Bolden: "Bazooka!!!"
      Others: "What?!"
      Bolden: "Bazooka make big BOOM!"
      Joplin: "He's not very bright, is he?"
      Billie: "Intelligence of 2, what did you expect? But he might just be on to something... sooner or later, BOOM! You know what I'm saying?"
      Joplin: "Right, that make complete sense. BOOM! Let's do this. And remember to aim for the head!"

    6. "You're fool. No weapon forged can stop me."
      "That was then... This is now."

    7. You missed the best part of that exchange: "What's that do?"

  11. Thanks for this review (and for making it through this game). This is one of the few games I never got to play when it came out and I've always wondered if I should give it a go... now I know that I'll just save my precious gaming time for better games.

  12. Did you ever find out what was in the chest that Blood Demon was guarding on level 4?

    1. I don't think he was guarding a chest. He was just there. Given how hard blood demons were even when I was Level 10, I don't think I had a reasonable chance of ever defeating him back on the earlier level.

  13. I'm really looking forward to reading about your play through Drakkhen. I got it as my first RPG on the SNES, and played the crap out of it. I have fond memories of it, even though I've never really been able to get back into it.

    1. Same! I had it on my Amiga. I'll sit tight and be good and wait patiently, though :P

  14. The game sounded intriguing at first, how could it have reached its potential?

    -a bit of RPG combat with different materials and tactics needed for each monster
    -a horrifying plot that develops over each of the 10 levels
    -a mystical side to combat where you have to read a necronomicon to combat the ethereal enemies.

    anything else?

    By the way I'm looking forward to Dragons of Flame as I had it as a kid and this blog is very entertaining when you are playing a crap game :D

    1. Any of those would have significantly helped, but I don't know how much programming would have had to have been revised for, say, the combat thing.

      Still, you've made me think about how "bad" games could become at least "okay" games with a little effort. If, for instance, they had taken the time to put a little plot-related message screen at the end of every level that filled in part of the story and ramped up the tension, the player would have something to look forward to when completing a level. I doubt that would have taken much extra effort.

  15. "The game has a main quest with only one outcome, and I still can't help but make fun of it a bit. Sure, one's grandfather is a valued member of the family, but a quest to rescue him doesn't feel exactly...epic. I mean, can you think of any book or film in which the rescue of a grandparent drives the story?"

    Actually I think scaling down from "the whole world is at stake!" to something more local in scale sounds like a good idea and I wish more RPGs (hell, more movies, too) would go with it. The game might have flubbed the execution, but I don't think there's anything wrong with a scenario that starts with "Something happened to so-and-so - let's go investigate..." and ends with you rescuing the person and/or vanquishing whatever made them disappear. EPIC~ is overplayed to me.

    1. I agree with you on that. I praised both Pool of Radiance and Quest for Glory for centering the plots on local problems in which the entire world wasn't at stake. It was more the specific relationship that I was making fun of. Try substituting a grandparent as the hero's motivation in other media: Bruce Wayne becomes Batman when his grandparents are murdered; Liam Neeson kills half of Europe because his grandmother is "Taken." It doesn't work.

    2. "Luke, I am your Grandfather!"

    3. Damned, that quote is annoying. Darth Vader never said "Luke, I'm your father", and Groening using it in Simpons didn't help either.

      In the movie Darth Vader says: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father".
      Luke: "He told me enough. He told me you killed him!"
      DV: "No, _I_ am your father".

      And thus today's public display of nerdage is completed.

    4. I know that's not the correct quote, but I can't be bothered. I think the misquote is better as a *single* line than the original. Perhaps I'm no a big enough nerd.

    5. I agree. The context might not be immediately apparent without the "Luke." Anyway, I laughed heartily, it was a perfect example.

      Petrus, I'd tell you to relax, man, but then again I'm the one who gets annoyed at Don't Go Alone telling me what not to do.

    6. Petrus did provide the correct quote.

    7. Yes, I realize that. I was defending Giuseppe's choice to slightly mangle the quote to make it clear where it came from. He was already mangling it by changing "father" to "grandfather," so who says he can't further mangle it by changing "No" to "Luke"?

    8. Oh, I wasn't addressing your comment, Chet. I was replying to Giuseppe's comment, but now that I read it again, I realize I may have read it wrong.

  16. I'll redo the comment to make it clearer:

    I know the quote I used is not correct, but I can't be bothered. I think the misquote I used is better as a *single* line than the original "No, I am your father". Perhaps I'm not a big enough nerd to care.

  17. This game actually sounds intriguing to me. If I had a computer when I was 3, I'd probably have begged my parents to get this game for me. If I could talk. Do 3 year olds talk?

    Anyway, I'm a huge fan of horror in movies, literature and games. I've probably rewatched the 1930's Universal horror films dozens of times each and I soak up every cheesy B-movie that comes my way. That said, I don't see myself going to this game now. There's a sad lack of horror CRPGs on the market, and I've never even gotten much enjoyment out of the pnp variety. I was excited when you first introduced this game and mentioned the fear mechanic. Call of Cthulhu and Edge of Darkness are the only games I can think of that did this, and they did it amazingly well. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like this game held up to it.

    Honestly, though, can anyone think of a good horror CRPG? There's a handful of good horror games, but none that are really RPGs.

    I think part of the problem with making a good horror RPG, especially in the modern market, is horror does not neccessarily work with creating characters that become stronger. The most appealing part of horror, to me, is facing something unknown and so grand it dwarfs human capability. It would suffer the same thing that recent Silent Hill and Resident Evil games have - it's hard to be scared when I can beat that monster's face in.

    Still, I think with some creative minds behind it, a good horror RPG COULD be made.

    I might still check this game out one day, if my backlog ever clears. But since that seems unlikely, this is probably a pass for me.

    1. I don't think that liking the horror genre will in any way influence your like or dislike for Don't Go Alone. It PRETENDS that it's a horror game, but it doesn't have any of the atmosphere that you'd associate with that name.

    2. Tanuvein, if you want a good (and hard) CRPG (with heavy Adventure game elements) in the Cthulhu tradition, try Legacy: Real of Terror -

    3. The closest things I've played to a horror CRPG is the Fatal Frame series on the PS2. Really it's part shooter with an interesting combat mechanic, shooting ghosts with a magic camera. As you defeat more ghosts the camera levels up and becomes stronger.

      The first Parasite Eve introduces character leveling and partial turn based combat to a horror setting similar to Silent Hill.

      I've heard the Kouldeka (PS1) and Shadow Hearts (PS2) series might fall into this genre.

      If you look internationally, Sweet Home (NES) is an RPG related in many ways to Resident Evil. I don't think it's really scary, but it's definitely placed in both the CRPG and survival horror genres.

    4. Koudelka (note the spelling, if you're looking it up on ebay) is definitely an atmospheric horror RPG. It's also absurdly difficult at the beginning, but the difficulty smooths out nicely if you can survive the first hour or so.

      Koudelka is sort of a prequel to the Shadow Hearts games. The first Shadow Hearts has stronger horror elements than the others.

      I would say that the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona RPGs also have horror elements. I wouldn't put them in the horror genre, but they have their creepy moments. My roommate openly accused "Digital Devil Saga" of being a "Night of the Living Dead" ripoff, due to the ongoing cannibalism theme.

      BTW, I loved your writeup on the deservedly obscure game that is Don't Go Alone, Addict. I played it myself ages ago and yeah... it's the CRPG equivalent of eating a "sandwich" made from a folded piece of bread (and nothing else).

    5. Here is review of japanese only PlayStation One horror RPG called Yakata: Nightmare Project.

  18. Actually I do have the "DGA" manual. I bought the game a long time ago (and never finished it).

    In its introduction the manual says:
    "Welcome to a house that tends to devour visitors. Grown men have gone in string, only to emerge in fits of burbling terror. Now it's your turn."

    I'm going to scan the whole manual, but here is the complete backstory:
    "The goal in Don't Go Alone is to find and defeat the Ancient One. Who's the Ancient One? You don't want to know. Suffice to say, that he drove your grandfather berzerk with one glance, so you had better be more prepared than he was."

    1. Wow, thanks! This has actually always bothered me a bit. Now I know that the introduction hardly explains anything at all. I figured there would be a long framing story to explain why our grandfather is in the house in the first place.

  19. Heads-up: I was finally inspired to update the FAQ for this game. I found the missing two gold keys and added a bunch of other details, item descriptions, monster lists, etc. The Addict gets a shout-out for his contributions, as well!

    1. Your dedication to keeping a thorough walkthrough for this game is impressive.

  20. It seems that Don't Go Alone is missing from the list of games played by the year - it present on the list by title, though, which is how I found it, even though I normally go by the year list. ;)


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