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The Eternal



Author: Nikki

Difficulty: 10-15

Version: 1.0.0



Composite Score: 3.8/5.0


Best: 0.00% (0/9)

Good: 77.78% (7/9)

Average: 22.22% (2/9)

Substandard: 0.00% (0/9)

Poor: 0.00% (0/9)





Keywords: Short, Serious, Mystery, Linear, Light/No Combat, Dark, Plot Heavy

Edited by SylaeBot
Automated Sybot edit; worker IPB::csrThread/vanadium

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Master Ackrovan's Review of The Eternal


The Eternal is a 24hr scenario made from Nikki during the Second 24hr Scenario Contest.


The Plot - The plot is the real reason to play this scenario. As per typical Nikki style, the plot is what really took prioriety and it shows with flying colors. You are shipwrecked on a small island with no knowledge of what the island is or what is was. As you soon discover, the island is completely abandoned of human settlement, and its only occupants are these strange stone statues in the shape of Angels that are mysteriously popping up at every turn you make. Vivid and suspenseful, the plot for the Eternal will keep you on the edge of your underpants for practically the entire duration of the scenario. With extremely skilled and intelligent execution, the plot of this scenario is surely very high end.


However, the plot has one fatal flaw. The ending is highly anti-climactic. It honestly seems like the designer had lost track on how to end it and just went with his gut instinct. Now, while this can be a good thing, in this case, it is not. So, basically, you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat, but you will never find the reason to stay there near the end.


Still despite the anti-climatic ending, the plot of the Eternal is by far the best feature of the scenario is should be a major factor at least if you are considering to play this scenario.


The Graphics - The Graphics are mostly standard for this scenario. While nothing top dollar or exceedingly charming, the graphics meet standards and are up to par. One really cool aspect is that some of the swamp graphics are from Geneforge, which seem to fit in almost perfectly with the plot and atmosphere. While nothing special or memorable, the Graphics are acceptable and overall fine for a BoA scenario.


The Dialog - Most of the dialog is extremely poetic and capturing throughout the whole of the scenario. Nikki really shows his best colors here and excels most scenario's in his use of the English language. Highly motivating and skilled, the dialog is near perfect. No valid complaints can be made.


The Gameplay - Game play is average in pretty much all ways. There are no shops or stores, so nothing can be broken or anything like that. The only thing of real note is the level requirement. While it says "10-15", it should really be "10-10". You won't be gaining any levels in this scenario.


The run time can be estimated for about 45 minutes, so you can expect to finish this in half a sitting. No bugs or glitches that weren't caught in the Beta.


The Combat Null. There is no combat in this scenario, so therefore it can not be reviewed.


Overall - From start to finish, you will enjoy this scenario. Its got artistic writing and a well-thought out, if anti-climactic, ending. The graphics are acceptable, and the overall game play is good. So play this scenario if you have some time on your hand. What else do you have to do?


Final Ranking - [rating]Good[/rating]


-- The Great Archon

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Thanks! Great review, but I'd like to clarify something:





As per typical Nikki style, the plot runs along as a vivid horror/survivor story.


I'm not quite sure what you meant here, but this is the only horror/survival story/scenario I've produced.

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It's pretty good. It's fairly short, and there's not much difficulty to it, but it's worth the play... I'm going to say it's good, since even though it may not be as deserving as longer scenarios, its quality is good proportionate to its length. Is that a fair way to judge?



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This thing has Nikki written all over it. The overall design is pretty. The dialog is atmospheric. There is no combat (really). It is so very short. Actually, that about says all you need to know about The Eternal, but let's try and be more in depth, shall we?


The scenario starts with the player being washed ashore on a strange island that seems to be deserted... Or is it? Basically, the player wanders around the seemingly abandoned island, reads a bunch of nicely descriptive dialog boxes, and catches a glimpse of something strange/spooky now and then. Then the player discovers what the strangeness is and the mock fight begins... That is about as in depth as I can get without going into major spoilers.


In short, there is nothing wrong with the Eternal, apart from its shortness. Some might also consider the lack of combat to be a problem, but it did not bother me. What I liked especially, though, was that there was an assortment of loot to be found, and the loot was appropriate for the level range of the party. The level range being otherwise pointless. And Heck, the writing alone is good enough to justify The Eternal's existence, although my PCs were a bit too wimpy if you ask me. Nobody did, though.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating]

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Right, we need more reviews to generate a composite score, so here goes:


The Eternal is an engaging and well-written story-driven scenario, with nice graphics. It succeeds in creating an eerie and mysterious atmosphere, at least on the first play-through.


It's not the kind of scenario that I like best, being extremely linear, without real combat, puzzles or rewards in XP or loot. It is not a party-building scenario, but it's not completely incompatible with the Avernum universe either. If you're taking a party through the standard scenarios, consider The Eternal to be a side trip.


The Eternal is definitely worth playing for the story-telling alone. I don't consider brevity to be a flaw in this case--the length was right for the story that was being told. Much longer and you'd probably lose the illusion of immersion and start to feel more like an observer than a participant.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating]


Edit: And by the way, I liked the ending.

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Basically what I said on shadowvale:


Obviously it's short as a 24-hour scenario, but well-written and atmospheric. The graphics were good, with the Geneforge trees giving a nice effect, and I particularly liked the outdoors of the island. The angels worked well, the dungeon built up the tension, and the damage nodes did their job in making you seem in danger.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating]

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Absolutely spiffy. It looks pretty, and I love me some towns with limited lighting.


Story, interesting. I have not seen the relevant Doctor Who episode, but I think I'd like to. The actual gimmick of the scenario was cool, but I feel like it didn't really do what it was supposed to.






Also, and this is really just a failing of the lighting, but I wasn't quite as afraid of the final chase as I should've been. In part because I was able to apply that well-established trick of the Avernum engine: go into combat mode, haste everyone and cast Light every turn. Voila, light.


Sadly, that revealed to me that there weren't even any statues out there. I would've liked that, and I bet you could've done something fun with terrain scripts and... I'm getting carried away.



Overall, it's short, it's fun, and you should play it.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating].

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THE ETERNAL (Version 1.0)


SUMMARY - A 24hr scenario based on a Doctor Who episode. It is a short story scenario and, to its detriment, little else. It is effectively a cinematic like one of Nikki's previous offerings, Twilight Valley. Unlike Twilight Valley, however, there's even less to do. There's no combat, no real gameplay, very little dialogue... On the plus side, it looks nice, and is designed competently. If you want a decent little story, play this scenario. If you don't, you might as well play it anyway, because it won't eat up too much of your time.



* No combat

* Extremely short

* Looks nice

* Railroad plot



Click to reveal.. (Detailed Analysis - Possible Spoilers)





You land on an abandoned island that's quiet. Too quiet. In fact, it's dead silent. It seems like a job of exploring the island and trying to figure out what happened. And indeed, that's what you get. Well, sort of. Unfortunately, the plot is extremely linear, so if you were to rush through this scenario, you wouldn't miss a thing. No subtle nuances or anything off the beaten path. So while you can explore, there's no point in actually doing so. Just go from point A to point B.


Anyway, the atmosphere... well, it doesn't quite work. It feels like an abandoned island, but there really never seems to be any malevolence to it. Yes, there's the warnings, and the actual encounters. But it all feels rather passive. There's a couple of encounters pointing out the railroad plot, but that's about it.


Then there's this other issue. You see, there never seems to be a question of what to do. For the most part, you're effectually told what the party does next, and get railroaded through the whole plot. Even in the grand finale, you're told just what you need to do to solve your problems. It's not that I have a problem with linear plots. But it was overly obvious that I didn't have a choice in what happened.


Moving on, we then hit the climax of the scenario. This actually seemed rather promising. You wind up getting forced into an action because you can't destroy your enemy. Except... well, I kept getting bothered by this nagging feeling. Throughout the scenario, it seems like your party is treated like a group of frightened young women. Which worked fine for Doctor Who, since the protagonist in that case WAS a frightened young woman. In this case, though, the protagonist is a band of adventurers. Seasoned adventurers, too. So... why can't I hit one of these berks with a fireball, again? Considering that they turn into statues, they aren't exactly a hard target. And sure, maybe the party can't kill stone, but they can certainly break it apart. But no, my party, who has faced down an army of ogres and powerful magic casters, has apparently been frightened into senselessness by a bunch of statues. Right...


Where was I again? Oh right, climax. Well, the backstory was interesting. But right at what should be the height of tension, where the atmosphere is finally building up... it falls flat again. You get whacked a few times, but that's about all the urgency you get. Figure out what you need to do (which, considering you're told what you need to do, isn't difficult), and viola. You exit the island, scenario ends.



Combat/Gameplay - SUBSTANDARD

Really not much to say here. Do not unsheathe your weapons. Do not press the mage spells button. Heck, you could probably even forgo the look and get buttons as well. All you do is walk and read. And, in the final encounter, maybe cast Mass Healing. There's very little dialogue and nobody to talk to, so there's next to nothing other than the main plot itself. It is, in effect, an interactive cinematic.



Design - GOOD

Town design was decent. The towns were interesting and felt realistic. Not much in the way of outdoor design, but you don't see much of them either. Nothing really stood out, though. No major or minor errors as far as I can tell, and the dialog(ue) is well-crafted.



Graphics - GOOD

The Geneforge graphics were interesting and, in my opinion, worked excellently. The dark water, grass, and trees fit with the intended atmosphere well, and conveyed a sense of abandonment. The rest looked decent as well.



Scripting - AVERAGE

Nothing of note, really. The fanciest thing done is when the lights go out, but there's otherwise next-to-nothing in the scripting department.





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From Sarachim on SV:


The good:


Atmosphere. Things start out spooky and get spookier. Nikki nailed this part. The writing gives a little more detail about mundane things than usual, like the contents of chests with no useful items or the smell inside the abandoned bakery. A little bit of this is vital to making the setting feel as spooky as it is, but any more would have been excessive. I also liked that, when I stepped through an important doorway or onto the down staircase, the usual "sure you want to do that?" message didn't appear; instead, I just advanced. It reinforced my feeling that I was being herded forward, which of course I was. That's kind of a silly thing for me to highlight, but subtle touches like that are what make The Eternal work.


Less good:


After the big reveal, things fall a little flat; the "fight" isn't that scary or that dangerous, and the solution comes too quickly and too easily. I was honestly surprised that things ended so quickly, and was expecting a final ambush or something before I left.


On reflection, the plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There's enough tension during the scenario that you probably wouldn't notice this, but thinking about it afterwards makes the whole experience less fulfulling.



Click to reveal..



For example, like most people, I'm playing a 4-PC party. Logically, one party member ought to be able to watch an angel while the other three perform other tasks. And yet, the plot proceeds on the assumption that I can watch the angel or interact with my surroundings, but not both. How did four of these guys destroy an entire town? Why did the angels tell the truth about themselves when they asked me to smash the crystal? Why reveal their only weakness? Finally, why does nobody from the outside world know the island was once inhabited, and why did nobody escape?


The good part of The Eternal is significantly longer than the less-good part, and is good enough to make it worth playing. BoA isn't terribly well-suited to horror/suspense, so I think it's impressive that Nikki makes it work this well.




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Content: This is a short horror scenario. You won't find any combat or puzzles in this scenario. Instead, you'll spend your time exploring the environment and reading blocks of text.


Story: Those blocks of text are quite nice. On the slim chance you don't already know, this story is heavily inspired by a certain BBC science fiction serial. Does it work? Well, the villains remain as paradoxically menacing as they do in the show, even without the "Easter Egg" concept that really made that one episode work. It's tough to say exactly how much is lost in the adaptation from the television screen to the computer screen. The author did a good job adapting the setting to make it more like BoA. As for dialogue and interaction, there is very little; isolation is one of the key themes that were played up.


Pacing: It's tough to say how well suspense is maintained in this scenario. All horror loses a lot on the second viewing (at least to me). I did remember enjoying it the first time around. The beginning of the scenario slowly but surely builds up the mystery and suspense. I don't know if the last town was needed at all, though.


Combat: There is absolutely no combat in this scenario. All that happens is triggered damage, and an appropriately levelled character with Enduring Barrier is easily able to take the hits. It's a bit of a shame, I think the horror aspect could have been improved with it. But of course, it would have been nigh impossible to implement combat in a way that made sense (should have gone with the Silence instead... but then, I wouldn't be writing this review). I did find myself missing the lack of any tactical thinking in this scenario: a puzzle, or even less hand-holding at the climax.


Scripting: Nothing innovative, but everything works fine. No complaints here.


Aesthetics: The island is pretty, and the towns really feel abandoned and creepy. Nice.


Overall: Well-written little horror story. [rating]AVERAGE[/rating]

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