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Valley of Dying Things


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*i *i

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 04:17 PM #1 Valley of Dying Things

Valley of Dying Things

Author: Jeff Vogel
Difficulty: Beginner (levels 1-10)
Version: 1.0


Composite Score: 3.8/5.0

Best: 8.33% (2/24)
Good: 58.33% (14/24)
Average: 33.33% (8/24)
Substandard: 0.00% (0/24)
Poor: 0.00% (0/24)



Edited by SylaeBot, 10 February 2015 - 12:20 PM.
Automated Sybot edit; worker IPB::csrThread/IRIDIUM

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*i *i

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 04:30 PM #2 Valley of Dying Things

Valley of Dying Things is fairly good introductory scenario and serves as a good showcase of the design elements in Blades of Avernum.  It has a decent plot, good fights, and town design that is not lacking.  The use of scripting in several of the fights gives creative examples that have been used by many designers hence.  I must say I really liked some of the combat and it is much improved over its Blades of Exile predecessor.  Overall, I would say it is unremarkable, but definitely a good starting scenario for Blades of Avernum.

Rank: Average

BainIhrno BainIhrno

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 05:35 PM #3 Valley of Dying Things

I personally preferred the Blades of Exile version, but maybe I just prefer Blades of Exile overall. I know upon my arrival I trashed the BoE version completely, but in retrospect, I was probably just frustrated that for a long time, it was the only available scenario.

The BoA version was enjoyable, it was very much just like the BoE version, with little changes. One change that sticks out in my mind is the cutscene in the Mayor's office. That annoyed me.

It's sort of a mini-Avernum game, which I like.

I rate this scenario Average.

S M Adventurer S M Adventurer

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:56 PM #4 Valley of Dying Things

Ah, VoDT. It's the scenario first players play. I have to say, it was very interesting.

The combat is very easy for the most part, with only a few harder but optional fights. I liked the design of the towns and school.

There were some mildly engaging side quests, like dealing with the local goblin and bandit infestation. Before I went into the school I did them, and I finished them off after I beat the scenario.

There was some very nice scripting done, mainly with some of the monsters. I also liked the ending sequence with releasing quickfire into the Major Waste Depository, then being saved by the Vahantai.

Overall, it's an enjoyable scenario for the most part, and well made. Better than the BoE version that's for sure.

Rating: Average

Duck in a Top Hat Duck in a Top Hat

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:28 AM #5 Valley of Dying Things

The Valley of Dying Things is the scenario that has kicked off many an adventuring career. It was very enjoyable, with an amazing plot and a mysterious atmosphere that kept me playing on the edge of my seat to the very end.

The outdoors was very well designed with many interesting encounters. The fights were never too easy nor too hard, and were usually rewarding, as in the case of all the undead in the crypts and the hydras in the swamps.

There were no noteworthy boss fights in this scenario, and I found this a little disappointing. The combat in the towns was altogether too easy, always a bunch of little critters I could take out with a single hit.

Rank: Good.

Jerakeen Jerakeen

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 04:57 AM #6 Valley of Dying Things

VoDT was my first experience with Avernum and probably shaped my expectations of what a scenario should be.

It is, as you would expect, correctly balanced for the beginner in terms of difficulty, availability of gear and spells, and so on.  This is the go-to scenario for getting your party started (so to speak).  Having said that, it is also very long.  While you finish at a good level for starting A Small Rebellion, you'll be too powerful to enjoy the challenge of some of the third-party scenarios out there.  I have, on occasion, used VoDT to build a party to the level I want and then pulled them out with the editor.

The plot is original enough to hold the player's interest throughout.  I enjoyed having the freedom to roam and complete side quests.  Also exploring the creepy abandoned school.  I notice that Jeff doesn't provide quite enough shattering and piercing crystals to let you go everywhere--he makes you choose.  

Although there are some extensive dungeon crawls, we are thoughtfully provided with a few shortcuts here and there, which keeps them from being too annoying.

Early combat is easy, but bear in mind that Jeff had to design this to be beatable by someone completely new to BoA.  There are optional harder fights.  The final battle is an absolute grind, unless...

Spoiler

I'd say that, overall, VoDt sets the standard for beginning-level scenarios.  

Rating: Good

The Almighty Doer of Stuff The Almighty Doer of Stuff

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 04:39 PM #7 Valley of Dying Things

It's been a while since I played this, and I'm a bit fuzzy on some of the details, but I remember enough to write a review. It's one of my favorites for BoE. As for BoA, it's also one of my favorites, since unfortunately, as of the writing of this review, the only BoA scenarios I've played are this, High Level Party Maker, and Ritual of Registration.

Anyway, the review.

This scenario is split into two parts:

First, the sprawling, above-ground, people-filled exposition section, where you learn about the problems of the Vale and its people, and solve some additional problems that are making things worse. There's some very nice town design in Skylark Vale, and the dialogue and other writing is engaging. Often the writing is very serious and somber, which suits the situation this scenario presents, but sometimes it's very funny.

Second is the long, underground, dangerous dungeon crawl section, where you go into the School of Magery and try to solve the sickness in the Vale. Unlike the first half, there is little dialogue, but in this half, the focus is instead on exploring the abandoned school, discovering its many secrets, and meeting its many, usually but not always hostile, residents. There is plenty of descriptive writing and entertaining level design in this half.

The dungeon has very few low points and could easily keep me entertained straight through, but it's probably impossible, or at least very difficult, to survive the whole thing at once. Luckily, there are a few points in the dungeon where you can find hidden back exits/entrances into Skylark Vale, to refresh your party, and then you can continue.

The scenario is very well balanced, both in terms of combat (which is mostly but not always straight hack'n'slash), and in terms of treasure.

Overall, it's a scenario in two parts, both of which are extremely entertaining in different ways. The first half is mostly story, and the second part mostly exploration. To enjoy this scenario most thoroughly, it helps to be able to enjoy both types, which I certainly do. But neither half was at all a let-down in its own genre, and it was a very good scenario.

Rating: Good

Ephesos Ephesos

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 06:51 PM #8 Valley of Dying Things

(ported from SV)

So I finally got around to a review of this. From a player's perspective, it's fun. It's long, and combat is fairly simple if you start at anything higher than level 1. But the pace picks up at the end, thankfully.

There are some annoying little quirks of quest flow, where it feels like you should be able to ask about something but can't, but on the whole those aren't terrible. Encounters are fun, the writing is up to Jeff's standard of awesomeness, and it just feels like a proper adventure.

As always, Jeff handles the details with expertise. You don't run out of items too quickly, and everything feels appropriately real. There aren't really any dull empty corridors, or out-of-place encounters.

Anyway, a fun play. Not quite exceptional, but very solid.

Rating: Good

Handyman Handyman

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 12:05 PM #9 Valley of Dying Things

If this scenario isn't average, no scenario is.

I mean, it's big, which sets it apart from dang near every custom scenario I've played. It lets you do whatever you want, whenever you want. Of course, there's some degree of trappedness: You have to do X to proceed to Y part of the dungeon, and there's never any real confusion about what you have to do next. Still, there are some neat little dungeon-y places crammed in there that aren't wholly necessary, so that's nice. Also, the passages to the surface were a bit irritating. And the way I escaped was SO DAMN EASY--I guess it wasn't the worst thing in the world, but I wanted a finale! Instead, I got literally teleported to "the end."

But, really, Average.

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:46 AM #10 Valley of Dying Things

From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

It's pretty good, and it's a lot better than anything we'll see for a while. It's better than its BoE counterpart, and it's been expanded on quite a bit.

GOOD

EDIT: I realized how harshly I had been rating this scenario for no reason.

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:46 AM #11 Valley of Dying Things

From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

A decent salesman's sample, but it remains an incitement to all manner of wrong-headed design ideas. And if, like me, you take the coward's way out and play a full party, you may find the combat dangerously dull, with complacency your greatest challenge: even for the Avernum engine, it's remarkably unbalanced. There are a few ragged edges here and there (the perils of porting?): sloppy special triggers, loose SDFs, missing combat blocks, obscured line-of-sight in a town or two (the only difficult fight I ran into resulted from my inability to see one of my PCs). That aside, it seems fair to say that no scenario can be worse than VoTD and still be worthwhile, so it does its job as an introduction just fine.

AVERAGE

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:47 AM #12 Valley of Dying Things

From TM on the CSR:

This version is definitely superior to the BoE version- more harrowing fights, more sidequests, and a better setup: I prefer it to the BoE version, and it shares much of the solid (if not unremarkable) foundations that made up the core of its predecessor.

GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:48 AM #13 Valley of Dying Things

From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


I liked it, overall. I had a few issues with it, among them: balance. It was too heavily weighted towards combat at the expense of plot. I felt like I was invading various parts of the School just so that I could flip a switch, and that wasn't very rewarding. On top of that, there were hints that something fairly sinister went down when the School was closed, but very little was done with this. For that matter, why didn't the people who left the School turn on the cleaning system? There were too many unanswered questions that would've been better answered.

I felt that not enough spells were available at high enough levels, which was probably realistic, but was annoying from a gameplay standpoint.

It is a bit rough around the edges in places. One area of one fight, as Sboto noted above, is obscured because of a height difference. The scripting was solid but I saw nothing that blew me away.

Still, it is the first scenario for BoA. It is relatively bug-free and entertaining, though not spectacular. I give it this low a score only because I think we're going to see scenarios that are genuinely awesome, and I want to save room up at the top numbers.

EDIT: Bumped up because I realized that we really aren't going to see as scenarios that are significantly better than this as I expected. I liked VoDT.

GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:49 AM #14 Valley of Dying Things

From Linthar on the CSR:

I had good fun, partly because its been so long since I'd played the boe version that there was a lot of surprises. There was the factor of seeing the first uses of AI intelligence scripting making for a few interesting battles. I am also fairly easy to please.

I doubt that if I played it again I'd rate it so highly because a lot of my enjoyment came from seeing what the scripting system was capable of. I might just be a bad player but it was challenging for me even with a party of 4. The bosses were fun as well.

The things I really found annoying were certain creatures. Spirits who ice lanced the whole party for 40-50 damage, and altered beasts when you had to fight 3 to 4 fights with them on the way to the control center.

I also did not experience any bugs.

GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:50 AM #15 Valley of Dying Things

From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

Better then BoE, but still the definition of mediocre.

GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:50 AM #16 Valley of Dying Things

From miluk on the CSR:

I probably wrote a reason or two for my score in my lost review.

BoA combat system feels less balanced than BoE's. (Combat in this scenario feels less balanced than in BoE VoDT)

The plot is good enough for my standards, though I remember the BoE version a bit too well. I like long dungeon crawls.

Oh yeah, the cutscenes were not very impressive.

BEST

Response to this review and justification

ADoS: So why did you rate it best? Your review makes it seem like you thought it was only decent.

miluk: Because

* compared to combat I've seen in most other scenarios, combat in this one is not really less interesting.
=> I can't give all BoE scenarios below 8 points because of the engine. I don't like the BoA graphics, either.
* cutscenes weigh 0.2 points in my mind, at most, because there weren't a lot of them here and in my opinion this scenario doesn't need them.
* "plot is good enough for my standards" means I don't expect more. I have found the plot entertaining before. I can't take points off for having played BoE VoDT 100 times.
On the other hand, some new monsters and other minor details (like that floating light, new dialogue graphics) were refreshing.
* I like long dungeon crawls = bonus

* I already wrote a review once and didn't want to sacrifice too much time doing it twice

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:57 AM #17 Valley of Dying Things

From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:

Better than BoE's... well, a little better. GOOD seems about right.

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:57 AM #18 Valley of Dying Things

From Arachnid on the CSR:

Hey! Its a BoA scenario I can rate! (Hooray for demos!)

That being said, its an improvement over the BoE version. Not that good though.

AVERAGE

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:58 AM #19 Valley of Dying Things

From Nioca on the CSR:

Not bad, but there's definitely a lot better out there now-a-days. Eventually, it just seemed to devolve into a pointless menagerie of hack-and-slash. The main dungeon could definitely have been made quite a bit smaller and still would have been decent. But the villain was interesting.

GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 04:59 AM #20 Valley of Dying Things

From Excalibur on SV:

Valley of Dying Things

Combat - Good - It was easy, but that was Jeff's intention as a beginner scenario.

Visual design - Good - The towns were well designed for it's particular purpose, though it could have been better.

Technical design - Best - Jeff's scripting is suitable with everything made by him. This scenario wasn't spectacular in this field, but again, entirely suitable.

Story/ Plot - Substandard - It seemed original, but it's a bit boring.

Writing - Good - Not extraordinary, but much better than most scenarios.

Enjoyability - Good - I doesn't have much replayability at all, but I liked it my first time through

Overall - GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 05:01 AM #21 Valley of Dying Things

From Jewels on SV

I liked the plot. I already knew the plot. I still like BoE better.

(déjà vu)

I've replayed this scenario in BoE and BoA upwords of 6 times so it must be good.

GOOD

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 05:03 AM #22 Valley of Dying Things

From Lord Grimm on SV

It's very difficult to add to what's already been said here. It’s the generic Spiderweb small beginning: your Party starts off with great hopes, get posted to the middle of nowhere, and eventually save the day. You know what, if it wasn’t such a successful formula, I’d call it cheesy.
Personally, I think it's a bit of an insult to BoA to be comparing VoDT to its BoE counterpart. Same story, different engine. Like we all haven't played it a million times, right? What we're interested in here is mechanics
This is the first scenario. This is the standard by which we judge all else.
But in terms of numeric score, there is a catch: it's a good scenario. Therefore, even if it is the standard, it must rank on the high side of the scale, until such a time as our designers are both skilled and plentiful enough that it seems mediocre.

Plot: 1.75/2
Gameplay: 1.6/2
Presentability: 1.5/2
Scripting: .5/2
Personal Enjoyment: 1.5/2

Rating: 6.85/10  (AVERAGE)

Tyranicus Tyranicus

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 05:04 AM #23 Valley of Dying Things

From Enraged Slith on SV:

6.5 (AVERAGE)

It feels like an in-between 6 and 7 so that's what I'm giving it. Jeff makes quality work without pushing the bar (no surprise there) so nothing really stands out as either great or terrible. It's worth noting that this scenario is THE BAR™ for exactly the same reason. New designers should aim for something like this and then try to exceed it, or whatever.

ZeroTorrent ZeroTorrent

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 01:25 PM #24 Valley of Dying Things

Valley of Dying Things is the first scenario I played in Blades of Avernum, way back when I just had the demo version, and still remains one of my favorites for many reasons.

With most starter adventures, the plot is usually something very light. Recalling my level 1 characters from D&D, for example, I can't tell you how bored I am of standard dungeon crawlers and waves after waves of goblins. VoDT, in this regard, provides a very nice start to your Avernum career. It has a mysterious air about it, and builds up nicely from beginning to middle to end.

VoDT nicely flows from overworld to many areas. There's plenty of side quests to do, and some I've even discovered that I had missed my first time. Routing out small hidden camps is definitely a nice addition to what would normally be a boring overworld map.

The scenario is broken into segments pretty nicely. No one place is too big that you get lost, but areas aren't too small to leave you wanting more. Also, it seems there's always something interesting going on in every map, and always a reason to check every corner.

While VoDT does have these high points, it's not without its flaws, however.

Spoiler

Additionally, some of the fighting got a bit tedious after descending multiple levels. This scenario definitely could've gone with less combat and more intrigue, but it would play out much differently. As it is, it can get dull at a couple points, but it's not unbearable.

For this reason, I can't score it perfectly. All in all, though, it is definitely a welcome departure from the standard story, and one I play regularly just to enjoy it.

4.25/5
Rounded to 4 - GOOD

The Hero The Hero

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 12:04 AM #25 Valley of Dying Things

Valley of Dying Things, one of the best and most complicated, amusing and serious game that I've ever played.

Score: BEST

Reviews:
It is the only game in the demo version (which I have right now). It brings really serious scenes. It is not just some simple plague made by monsters or by maddened scientists. It is brilliantly made, and at the same time, very mysterious. When the game started, I thought it was just another one of those "kill that creature to stop the plague". But no. I was easygoing, really, then I realized that I have to go to a strange school. When I explored the school deeper, I felt more serious, it wasn't just a simple school, there is a disgusting queen platebug in there! And Vahnathi and more tunnels! Above all of those, this scenario was the first unusual (my use of unusual: strangely nice) scenario that I've ever played...
---------
-A

Whalecow Whalecow

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 06:26 PM #26 Valley of Dying Things

The valley of dying things made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me feel boss. Good work, developers!( I am totally keeping the flaming sword) :)

Edgwyn Edgwyn

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 06:03 PM #27 Valley of Dying Things

I found the scenario to be good.  It is expansive and I did not need to follow the sequence in the hint book until the end.  However, I see some balance issues.  Enemies spells are too powerful, almost to the instakill level.  Additionally, there are two optional encounters that are just too over powered.  It would have been nice to be able to purchase more spells, but the mix of items to find and purchase was good.




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