Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:35 PM Echoes
Composite Score: Not reviewed yet.
Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:36 PM Echoes
Competent noding, with some novel ideas, but nodes are sometimes used where they really shouldn't be (doing massive damage to the party every time they try to walk into any house in one town is generally impolite). Plot is interesting in parts, but somewhat incoherent. Combat is balanced poorly, especially in later stages of the scenario. Some bugs, including at least one that can make the scenario unfinishable. Overall, Echoes is a deeply flawed scenario, but not entirely without merit.
Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:37 PM Echoes
This is a review of version 1.0.2 recently downloaded and describes some of the plot/spoilers - do not read further if you want to play this scenario as a surprise. Much of the friendly towns are very unfinished, as are other parts of the scenario. I found it difficult to get immersed in the plot. It was more of a tactical challenge. On a first playthrough with any party except a God party, you are likely to have to reload the game quite a few times. By my fourth successful playthrough I was able to handle all challenges easily (even with a three PC level 26 party) - except for the unpredictable Black Death - see later. All three paths (Fire Keepers, Forest Keepers, Wind Keepers) are finishable in this version. The ending, common to all three paths, is very tricky. The most difficult challenge occurs in the Illythid Labyrinth where, with one PC, you have to battle a Pheadran Altar, which every few turns hammers you with random hectic special spells. The worst of these spells is Black Disease, which, unless you resist it (and the computer decides this for you), your entire party is obliterated, game over, no matter how many skills or magic items you have, and no matter how good a player you are! This is guaranteed to make you sweat/curse/reload quite a few times. Note that the Ritual of Sanctification does not work on it. The horror altar shows the power of special spells, and is perhaps another example of impoliteness (see review above). It is also accompanied by special Doomguards, who have no regard for antimagic fields and blast you with firestorms anyway - dont bother attacking them! When the altar flings a Tsunami at you, the entire room goes like water, which was quite cool.
I found there to be four really challenging battles: (1) the worst is that altar; (2) there is an optional one in the Cultists Cave where again it is one PC against a mass of monsters but no special spells - but can you down the boss with missiles or wound before you run out of energy?; (3) again in the Illithid Labyrinth, the Sylvian Archmage and shady crew surprise you with some nasty special spells whilst the whole labyrinth rapidly depletes your spell points to zero; (4) the final boss, a transforming/resurrecting type whose last stand involves more special spells whilst its children slam you with antimagic-field-ignoring breaths.
Remember this scenario is for a level 15-25 party or a high party. First time up I reckon it would be a challenge for a very high or even level 50 non-God party. Certain equipment and magical items are plentiful - its worth plundering the drake villages many times to upgrade your party (before you clean out the Cultists Cave). However some items seem to be unavailable: strong and medium energy potions cannot be bought, nor strong or medium invulnerability potions, nor antimagic wands (the wand machine in Omega did not work for me). Omega does have a random item shop though. Alchemy is essential, although not very advanced recipes are available - youre probably going to need to make lots of potions of clarity. Also I could not find Anti-Magic Cloud or Flight or Protection or Major Blessing or Resurrect. If your high level party is low on some/many of these skills/items/spells, youre unlikely to be able to finish the scenario. Youll be dusted pretty quick in the ending. The answer is spend plenty of time improving your skills and items, have one PC that is very well-rounded and powerful, get herbs and alchemy skill and recipes. Twenty luck may be invaluable in this scenario. A flaming weapon or two is very useful, but not readily available. In the Illithid Labyrinth, when you become one PC, do not explore/tarry unnecessarily - just get to the altar and bludgeon it whilst staying hasted/blessed and covered by antimagic (this does prevent the altar from becoming an Avatar and so recouping its HP) - and hope the Black Death does not catch you! The Read-Me file accompanying the scenario has useful hints and a walkthrough.
Overall, I encountered nothing that makes the scenario unfinishable (but see review above).
However, some of the flaws/bugs/unpolished-ness/irritation include: Jonahs Lair wouldnt work - after going in a number of times a lich tells me to go and get my reward and say Retribution, but then I cant get back in. There is a beta testers rod in the special items list. Angels Wings I couldnt find, and so Utopia is inaccessible (unless you have something that can make you fly for a long time). All the cameos are statues in Utopia, which seemed to be a bit odd given that this is meant to be one of the Halls of Fame quests. The excessively long wait at Spearhead waiting room makes you wonder if there is a bug - it is not and is quite tedious (apart from the darkly humorous demonic taunt halfway through). Why make the Mysterious Beast like an undead (but not be affected by undead spells) when the author makes plentiful use of special graphics? There is text lost on my non-Mac computer in certain conversations in towns. There is strong language in places (e.g. f**king pain). Fancy picking up some crap in a privy and flinging it at someone? When you clean out the Cultists Cave, at the end you get info on a Drake stronghold in the mountains to the north, but you cant access there unless you manipulate the terrain in the scenario editor (and then youll just get trapped in the dungeon). How tedious is the Wind Keeper Mountain Worg initiation - maybe 50 outdoor encounters with ever-increasing numbers of them? At the end of each path before the general ending you have to make a choice - it wasnt always that obvious to me what I was supposed to do to save the valley. There is some impressive basic equipment widely available like steel-toed boots at twelve instead of the more usual two defence - but only some of the items are improved, which doesnt add up (e.g. a very magical runed helm still only protects 5+1 whilst a leather helm protects 11+0). There seems to be a demon NPC but couldnt
work out where to get it.
Avoid this scenario if you hate combat or are sensitive to strong language or dislike unpolished scenarios.
Otherwise its a great way to improve your battle skills. Because it is so rough I might have rated it lower but decided to go for a
Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:38 PM Echoes
The combat is excessive and repetitive in places, and often has a nonexistent/flimsy plot justification. In fact, the whole plot was rather confusing, and filled with powerful characters who would make the party pretty much irrelevant.
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