Posted 04 August 2011 - 09:34 AM
HIM: The Wolf at the Door
From Jemand on SV:
HIM: Wolf at the Door is a solid Scenario. It is easily apparent that a great deal of work went into its production. I will rate it based on several applicable topics.
Gameplay/combat: Normally I would separate these, but in the case of HWatT (Now there's an abbreviation) the combat plays a fairly small part, and is most closely related to the gameplay. Throughout the first half or so of the scenario, you blunder through a ruined town. There are approximately 10 billion empty barrels to search (all with an overt creaking noise). Fortunately, there are a good number of text boxes to keep you entertained. Eventually, after taking a route that earns the Jemand Circuitous Path Award, you get attacked by the undead. There aren't too many zombies, but they are rather powerful. I was sort of unimpressed with the combat because it is, to be honest, rather lackluster. The zombies do nothing special. They are just tough. Some challenge comes from the unbelievably constricted space you are fighting in. I generally prefer to fight many weak things with varied abilities than a few identical tough things.
Another problem is that in the entire second half of the scenario, you are told to run from point A to point B. The town is a bit of a hazard, but also, the BoA engine does not lend itself to retreating. Monsters get to attack when you step away, and the zombies have as much AP as you do under normal circumstances. My method for surviving was to get ahead and then clog the alleyways by casting create illusions. Another problem that I had, is that once you are out of the town area that you have already explored, you are still told to run from point A to point B as though the four Horsemen of the Apocolypse are right behind you. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing where point B is, so this lead to much frustration. The advantage is that there isn't nearly as much of a threat behind you at any given time as the text boxes would like you to believe. I thought doom would approach if I lost any time at all. In fact I was usually able to beat off the two or three zombies behind me.
I will devote a paragraph to the roof scene, because it is rather unique. I appreciate it primarily for its aesthetic qualities, as it does look quite impressive. Unfortunately, I thought the way that "energy" worked was rather pointless. Every time you jump, you lose some energy. This has no detriment other than not being able to jump as much. When you run out, you must rest, which does nothing visible. This part also rather suffered from not being given good directions for where to go. I spent considerable time leaping and bounding across roads and alleys, going nowhere useful. When you jump, the view isn't reset to match the party's location, which annoyed me a little.
Throughout the scenario, you are becoming ill. I played on one of the easier settings, so that I would live longer. The coughing becomes annoying rather quickly. Unfortunately, in a scenarion as linear as this, there isn't really anything you can do to save time, so the higher difficulties settings just seem like a bad idea to me.
Plot: You arrive and find town empty. Where is everyone? Why is there more blood than at a vampire convention in a blood bank? How did you guess? The Undead have come to be pestilent! Apparently, the evil computer system, which is so reminiscent of HAL or GladOS, has created some chemical which turned the miners into Zombies! The miners then came home and turned everyone else into zombies! D'oh! But if the entire town is zombified, why weren't there all sorts of zombies at the mine? Why do they all hide until you read a book?
"Well boss, can we attack the pesky adventurers yet?"
"No, lackey #542, they haven't found the plot device yet! Keep hiding behind your pile of trash!"
The Undead are rapidly becoming hackneyed out of existence. The illness you have acquired is somewhat new to Blades of Avernum, but not much else. The constant fixation with blood left me a bit annoyed. Throughout the scenario, much is done to develop the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is often done slightly amateurishly. "Oh No! Everyone is dead! That's weird."
Town Design: Pretty, if not functional. The ruined town has many custom graphics, some of which work better than others. The actual layout, for the heart of the scenario is a grid, with 95% of the paths blocked off, leaving you with a confusing maze. It isn't hard to make two paths around a given building, this level of linearity is wholly unnecessary. Once out of the town, things improve, there is a nice church, and a forest, and the stereotypical pointlessly windy road. The terrain is frilly and captivating, and on the whole, quite acceptable.
HIM: Wolf at the Door has a great deal of polish to it. There is the much vaunted custom music, although I would like to point out that this isn't the first use of custom music. There are also the assorted custom graphics, and the door you need to bash open with something. However, in my opinion there isn't enough actual scenario to go with the various features. All the superfluities in the world won't make something worth playing if it lacks substance. Toward that end, HIM: Wold at the Door, has little replay value. There are no custom items, you don't get much XP. I enjoyed playing it once, but I see no reason to return very often.
Still, the bottom line is that HIM: Wolf at the Door is an interesting scenario. It is definitely worth playing.