Posted 04 August 2011 - 11:12 AM
Blades of Rogue
From Nioca on SV:
(If someone could delete my previous review...)
SUMMARY - An excellent example of just how far the BoA engine can be pushed, and how much power AvernumScript truly has. The most technologically advanced scenario to date. Unfortunately, people who don't care for Rogue style games (or scenarios) probably won't enjoy this much. It's basically one huge dungeon crawl for a singleton party, with each level being randomly generated with an assortment of enemies. At 120 levels, this scenario may take a while, and requires a bit of patience, especially with the insanely slow beginning. Anyone with skill at building singletons and combat won't be challenged even on Torment until the end. A simplistic plot serves a bit to the scenario's detriment, and only comes into play at the very beginning and the very end; the rest is pure hack'n'slash combat. There's no real eye-candy here either; it's plain stone and dark cave floors all the way. If you like combat, are willing to play through 15 levels of bowling pin enemies (40, if you're skilled), and don't mind an insubstantial plot or repetitious scenery, this scenario will likely please you. If not, it might best to avoid it. Aside from heavy combat and powerful scripting, this scenario does not have much to offer.
Enjoyment - 5
The beginning drags. Badly. The first several levels are probably the most boring things to grace Blades since Proving Grounds' dungeon. Thankfully, it starts to pick up around level 20, which is where the enemies start actually providing a challenge. The pools, secret doors, and traps help relieve the tedium here somewhat. Past level 20, it starts getting more interesting, and more challenging. However, a few levels later, the repetitious dungeon levels become considerably more apparent. Can I at least get a floor change? Perhaps a change in ambient sound? By level 80, I was getting tired of the constant repetition. The new levels were not all that new or interesting, and I started counting the levels till the scenario finished. Still, it has a few shining moments (such as when a level change wound up dropping me in a room with four rather nasty enemies, or when a hostile ghost, who had sighted me, wound up running straight past me without such much as a single swing in my direction).
Once I hit the final stretch past level 100, it started picking up again, thanks to an increase in difficulty. And the final level, which appears to be intentionally designed to be a spiral, was definitely interesting. Oh, and we can't forget those doom chickens. So it ended on a high note.
Combat - 4
As stated under Enjoyment, the beginning drags badly. The enemies from level 1-10 would likely only challenge a true beginner, unfamiliar with RPGs as a whole. Anyone even slightly skilled could play these levels on torment without breaking a sweat. The enemies here are extremely weak, to the point of triviality. I suppose they'd make a good indicator of a bad build, but still, it's tedious. At level 10, they started picking up in difficulty, and start getting interesting abilities. Ranged fighting starts to come into play here as well.
However, the combat difficulty still doesn't pick up much. While the enemies start strengthening quite a bit, two major factors are almost constantly present that keep the difficulty almost trivially easy: Numbers and Terrain. Most encounters are against a single enemy, meaning that it can never really overwhelm you unless it far outguns you (which, barring a bad build, is rare). And most take place in a large room that's accessed by a tiny, usually twisty hallway, meaning that a player can force a ranged attacker to close by dodging around a corner and can force a group of enemies to attack single-file and get picked off one at a time. Even on Torment on level 50, the combat was still failing to come close to killing me unless I got careless. In fact, only the strongest enemies seemed capable of even hitting me. Only at level 105 was I regularly challenged by the enemies I had to fight. Additionally, there were levels with 3 or 4 enemies, tops. Considering that the character gets a fully recuperated character every level (some health is restored along with all energy; which, if the heal spell is available, means health and energy are completely restored), this isn't much at all, especially considering that combat is pretty much the entire point for the scenario. In a scenario like this, there's not much to be done about the terrain issue, but I'd still like to see a greater number of enemies.
Also, I think boss fights would be perfect and possible for this scenario. I mean, why not spice up every 15 or 20 levels with a particularly nasty critter that you have to kill to proceed? It'd be possible with creature scripts, and positively easy compared to the rest of the coding. Maybe it's just me, though.
Plot - 3
Not much to say here. You're an newbie adventurer who's out of work when you hear about the legendary Dungeon of Doom and the Amulet of Yendor contained within. Skip the entire scenario, you finally get the Amulet, and teleport out. The end.
Yeah. This scenario is not about plot. At all. But I suppose a simple, unoriginal plot is better than no plot at all, or worse, a plot that's complete garbage. It still would have been nice if the plot was a little more creative and original, and if perhaps there were reminders every now and then of it, rather than the plot disappearing for 120 dungeon levels... But I digress.
Design - 5
It's a little difficult to judge how good or bad the towns are, considering that they're generated randomly. Still, as mentioned under enjoyment, an occasional floor change would have been nice. Also as mentioned, the dungeons tended to became a little repetitive. Perhaps do what the final level did a little more often and have levels with a specific shape. As it was, each level tended to seem too much like the last.
No errors as far as I can tell, which is good for a scenario built entirely on its technical premise. No typos or spelling errors I noticed in the dialog. No dialog either. graemlins/tongueold.gif
Graphics - 4
Bland to a detriment. The repetitive dungeons were not helped by the fact that it was always dark cave floors with rough stone walls. The walls are excusable, being a rather tricky thing to handle. The floors? Not so much. I mean, sure, there were stalactites and moss... but if you can add pools to the scenario, you can add the occasional sleeping pad now and then.
Other than that, there wasn't anything graphically wrong with the scenario. A couple of neat custom graphics, and a color-shifted doom chicken was nice.
Scripting - 10
A technical masterpiece. Inspirational when it comes to showing the power of the Blades engine. There are still a few things that could be done to push it even further, but in the scripting department, this scenario shines. 119 randomly-generated dungeons (and one that had a set configuration) in a single town, with encounters, secret doors, traps, and so on, is one of the most powerful things ever done with AvernumScript.
Enjoyment - 5 * 0.2 = 1.0
Combat - 4 * 0.2 = 0.8
Plot - 3 * 0.2 = 0.6
Design - 5 * 0.15 = 0.75
Graphics - 4 * 0.15 = 0.6
Scripting - 10 * 0.1 = 1.0
Rounded Toward Enjoyment - +0.05