Posted 03 August 2011 - 03:50 PM
The Triple Valley
From Nioca on SV:
SUMMARY - A short scenario by Iffy. The Triple Valley's premise is simple; you're a band of adventurers in a metal rich valley looking for work. Unbeknownst to you, darker plots are in play. It's very combat heavy, it's design is a bit (pardon the term) iffy, plot isn't all that great, and it's got some minor errors. Still, it's a worthwhile play if you're into combat. Or if you're bored.
* Combat heavy
* Hard combat
* Lackluster design
* Good combat
* Limited dialogue
* Easy to get lost
Enjoyment - 5
It's not bad. However, there were many moments where I got frustrated due to lack of direction. There wasn't much in the way of dialogue, and what there was isn't inspiring, so no breaks there. The combat, however, will put you through your paces, and it's generally well-designed whenever it comes to fights. Also, while it may seem good, having every town on the "Dark Side" completely dark (as in all light gets snuffed out instantly) quickly went from "Nice atmosphere" to "Oh no, not this total darkness crap again".
Plot - 3
This may well be the greatest plot to ever grace Blades. Seriously. Problem is, no one bothers to tell you what the plot is. Either they don't know what's going on (or won't talk to you), or they do know what's going on, but refuse to tell you. As a result, what propels you along in it is, "Do this because I said so". What is let on isn't impressive. It's another "Save the world from demon(ish) invasion", a fact it uses to poke some fun at itself.
The ending... it's supposed to be suspenseful or something. I wouldn't know, I still really didn't know what was going on. There's also a plot hole in the beginning (along with a missed chance to make the plot many times better) where the bad guy tries to assassinate the mayor. Later information winds up making this a confusing moment, since the assassin had no reason to attack the mayor. In short, don't play this scenario for the plot.
Combat - 7
This is the reason to play this scenario. The combat is very well done, if a little on the heavy side. It's also hard; fortunately, you'll discover fairly early on whether you're ready for this scenario. Oddly enough, difficulty actually decreases slightly as you proceed, putting the intial outdoor encounters in a tie for third-hardest fight in the scenario. The only fights harder are the Guardian in the hut and the final boss.
One thing of note is that Iffy was heavily favoring the Hunter script. What that means to you non-scripters is that, upon entering a town or dungeon, it was entirely possible for every enemy in the dungeon to bum rush you (assuming they had a path to you), even if you were on the other side of the dungeon. Additionally, he had a few cruel tricks up his sleeve. The Guardian fight under the hut was stunningly difficult. Why? Well, normally, you get to have every party member dogpile on a solo enemy like this, pouring all their firepower into it before it gets the chance to act. Not this time; it was placed just behind a secret door, so not only did it generally get first strike (assuming you weren't ready for it), but you had to duel it one-on-one. Oh, and it has a slowing touch that's nigh-insurmountable. Cue pain. The boss fight's actually a bit easier, since you can make preparations for it ahead of time (and assuming you have Radiant Shield to take the edge off). But it too is a doozy unless you end the fight quickly.
All in all, expect a challenge going in.
Design - 3
This is one area Iffy really needs to work on. The one actual town is mostly empty (under construction is no excuse!) and designed rather haphazardly. Dungeons are alright, but under the hut was definitely not one of the better things Blades has seen. A long corridor of traps is either boring or needlessly painful and infuriating, depending on your tool use. Dialog and dialogue alike tended to be clipped, functional, and bland. The conversation with the nutty wizard was perhaps the best dialogue in the scenario. It's also dotted with the occasional typo and spelling error ("Plateform"? Does that mean you turn into a plate?). Finally, profanity seemed to be thrown in at random. Mind, I'm not against a character going "Oh [censored]" when it's appropriate. However, it seemed the profanity here didn't have much of a reason (and it dulled the one time it was appropriate).
However, the real problem is this. At two different points in the scenario, the party can get lost. Not slightly turned around, or a little confused. Completely and totally lost. The first is Under the Hut again, where you find the crystal and the ladder comes back down. At which point you should... Well, obviously do something, but the scenario gives absolutely no clue as to where to go next. It's not a bug. Just no direction. Of any kind. Second time, you get the mission to head back to the dark realm. You got the orb, you're ready to kick arse... Well, except for the fact you don't know where that arse is. Again. This is a particularly nasty example, because it seems like a game-breaking glitch when you hit it. There's a portal in the town, yet it's not the one you're supposed to take back. Despite the fact you just got a key for it and can open the door to it. It's not obvious there's a different portal you're supposed to use, and it leaves one feeling like they just hit a brick wall.
There's also some cosmetic glitches and annoyances as well. Every time I loaded my party, it told me to read the readme. Done once at the beginning of the scenario, it's a good reminder. Done every single time the player reloads their party? Additionally, Iffy apparently put some debug calls in at some point and didn't take them out. Nothing horrendous, but still.
Graphics - 6
Nothing special here. The inverted terrain in the Dark Realm is nice, but there's not much in the way of graphics here. Scenery was passable, if somewhat blank. There's not much in the way of eye-candy or special effects. It doesn't look disagreeable at all, though.
Scripting - 6
There's a good bit of scripting in play here. Healer enemies, modifying spell lists for enemies, nothing overly fancy. But it definitely makes it stand out. Plus, there's a few cutscenes as well, though again, nothing fancy. I did have a slight problem with one encounter, which was an instant-kill node with little warning of what was coming. But there's not much to mention otherwise.
Enjoyment - 5 * 0.2 = 1.0
Plot - 3 * 0.2 = 0.6
Combat - 7 * 0.2 = 1.4
Design - 3 * 0.15 = 0.45
Graphics - 6 * 0.15 = 0.90
Scripting - 6 * 0.1 = 0.6
Rounded Toward Enjoyment - +0.05
Note by Tyranicus: The final number is then divided by 2 because the old rating system was out of 10, so we end up with 2.5, which rounds up to AVERAGE.