Posted 11 February 2015 - 11:33 PM
Playing Restless Souls was an interesting experience. I found it a sort of dreamlike experience, and messy like a dream too. The ultimate plot is pretty standard meat and potatoes for a BoA scenario. Monsters are killing people you go find out what is causing it and kill them dead. The mayors daughter is missing and everything. What makes Restless Souls unique is the writing style and town/outdoor design.
The writing will either make or break this scenario for the player. Its filled with metaphors and attempts to give a bit of meaning and poetry to every little description no matter how important. It reminds me of reading Something Wicked this Way Comes back in middle school. For me most of the individual metaphors fell flat, either not making sense of just not working poetically. Some of them were so nonsensical they just made me laugh. However! That said, as a whole work I actually enjoyed it. It creates an unusual atmosphere, and while I wouldn't want it in every scenario I appreciated it was going for something different.
The town/outdoor contributes to the atmosphere in strange interesting ways too. The outdoor sections supposed to be set in a relatively wild area and there is crap everywhere. It's the opposite of the empty beginner outdoor syndrome. It seems like almost every single tile has some sort of terrain on it. The towns and dungeons definitely show the piecemeal eight year design. The first dungeon feels very claustrophobic with tight hallways and all the rooms practically folded on top of each other. The main town was like the outdoors, seems like you wouldn't be able to walk anywhere without tripping over five different bushes. The final dungeon begun with annoying portal puzzles and ended with big empty hallways. But like the writing, while it was clunky and messy it contributed to the atmosphere and I ended up liking it.
For the actual storyline I don't have much positive to say. Like I mentioned earlier it's pretty standard issue, just with some guilt tripping about the empire wiping out a bunch American Indian stand-ins. It was nice that the villain offers a chance to help her instead of immediately killing her outright, but I didn't find her case compelling in the slightest. So there might be a bit replayability there for some players.
I can't say too much about the combat. I actually played this as a level 78 singleton only wanting to experience the story, but was quite surprised to find the 1-4 level recommendation is not quite accurate. I actually died in combat once and by the end of the scenario had picked up 4 levels! There is certain demon that changes its stats based on your character's. At first it seemed like a monster out of Exodus with a gigantic health bar, and I wondered what was going on until I started remembering what a homunculus is. Pretty cool monster design there.
One small nitpick I have is that there are a lot of floor tiles left over in areas the player can't access. As an over leveled character I was using far sight a lot looking for secret areas and kept seeing this leftover junk. It was confusing and ugly and should have been cleaned up.
So all and all despite its flaws I enjoyed my time with Restless Souls and think it's worth experiencing. I hope Excalibur will consider taking another stab at designing.