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Canopy: Manufactured Womb



Author: Terror's Martyr

Difficulty: 35-50

Version: 1.0.5



Composite Score: 3.8/5.0


Best: 16.67% (5/30)

Good: 63.33% (19/30)

Average: 6.67% (2/30)

Substandard: 13.33% (4/30)

Poor: 0.00% (0/30)





Keywords: Alternative Combat, Combat Heavy, Cutscene Heavy, Dark, Designer-Specific Universe, Difficult, Experienced Player, Hack 'N' Slash, Innovative Scripting, Linear, Serious

Edited by SylaeBot
Automated Sybot edit; worker IPB::csrThread/vanadium
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Like many of TM's scenarios, it did feel pretentious at times. That being said, it was still a pretty good scenario. It has some crazy combat, but it has some unique "spells" and an interesting plot, at least until the end which was a huge letdown.


I don't see, however, why the "spells" are wands that can be picked up. It would be much more believable to just say they are wands that use spell energy. And sometimes they did make fights a little easy. Also, near the end, the armies of Sud Canopy give a long speech and then block your path with trees. Seriously, why not just attack while they are too busy talking?


Still, an enjoyable scenario.


I rate this scenario [rating]Good[/rating].

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What a time I had while playing this scenario (with a regular party!) I found to be very exciting and interesting. Let's review each of the aspects of the scenario.


First, the one thing I noticed that is the combat was extremely difficult. Most bosses in the scenario had over 1,000 HP I estimate. There were some pretty nifty scripted abilities each of the bosses had, but I found one thing to be a bit bad.


Most of the bosses seem to have the ability to remove Invulnerability from all characters at once. The Demonic Idol and many other future bosses comes to mind. Then again, I did play this scenario a couple of levels under the suggested party level I should be at. Still, I got through without too much trouble.


There was a lot of interesting characters too, and the fight scenes were awesome. I liked how you needed to position that laser on that wizard in the Catacombs in order to kill him.


Now let's start talking about the numerous artifacts and magical items that were in this scenario. They were really cool, and they helped me get through the scenario in one piece. However, a few may have been overpowered.

That Adestrage Bow or how ever you spell it comes to mind for that. Before I got it, my Nephil archer could only do 40-50 damage per hit. Then he got the Adestrage, and now he does upwards of 100 damage. I do like the new animation for that bow though. The bow wasn't the only artifact you can get. As you progress in the scenario, you get more and more cool, useful, and sometimes overpowered items.


Along with overpowered items, you get some overpowered abilities. Now they cost spell points to use. However, some aren't very useful. You don't get the most useful ones until you are near the end. I think my favorite was the Flame Sword type thing, your character takes damage and so the enemy. Nice work here.


The plot was interesting enough to keep on playing and you meet some cool characters. I liked exploring that six floor Fort. It had amazing Cutscenes. Also, each time you complete a quest, you get tons of experience, which was enough to make my characters go up a level or three.


The graphics of everything looked pretty good, except for a few white spots in the monster graphics. Doesn't really bother me much, so I won't take off any points for that.


The ending was kind of abrupt, Spinderscher sending me to the depths of I don't know where I am. I really don't know how to respond to that.


Overall, this scenario is definitely not for level 1 parties in difficulty. Even my party at level 30 was having problems. The custom items were nice, but somewhat overpowered. Graphics and plot were very good. It had nice cutscenes and good scripting. I liked this scenario a lot and will recommend it to people that like challenging combat and an interesting universe.


Rating: [rating]Good[/rating]

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Like a lot of TM scenarios, it's always tough to give a final score. The problem is that I'm fragmented in how I feel. On one hand, I love the technical wizardry and want to reward it for that. On the other, I absolutely hated a lot of it. The TM philosophical-babble out of my own characters mouths, no less, was infuriating. The combat just hurt too.


So I'm divided. I think I'll split the difference. This scenario contains numerous good examples of coding and a valuable thing for designers. On the other hand, as a player I would say use caution.


Rating: [rating]Average[/rating]

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  • 1 month later...

The amount of documentation for this scenario is a little off-putting—it seems that you need to learn a whole new system of spells just to get through it, and the descriptions of the bosses are pretty intimidating. My advice to players is: 1. Print out the spell descriptions, and ignore the FAQs until you get stuck. Well, the latter is always a good idea, but some of us have a pathological compulsion to read everything we come across. 2. Save often.



Special spells


The spells are essential to beating some of the bosses, who are otherwise nearly invulnerable. There is no in-game explanation either for their existence or of their functions. We have to repeatedly consult an outside resource, which detracts from the experience. So does the clunkiness of using up so many inventory slots. They are inventive, if sort of arbitrary in their effects. Example: 66 unblockable damage twice? OK...but why? Bottom line: they add interest, but special spells have been done better.



Eye candy


There’s plenty of visual interest, with custom graphics and special effects galore. Interesting use of elevation, but it doesn’t always work—there are places where heights, narrow pathways and unseen obstacles combine to make ambulation an exercise in frustration.





Well, there is one, and it’s even comprehensible:




Some NPCs have figured out that they’re really nothing but bits of code and have decided to do something about it.



Unfortunately, this doesn’t explain very much of what takes place in the scenario. The “because I said so,” defense might actually hold water, given the premise and the fact that the designer has written himself into the scenario as the all-powerful mastermind, Emery J. Bishop. Basically, as the designer, he can do whatever he wants, including sending you off to do pointless quests like demoralizing the bugbears by stealing their idols (you would think that being slaughtered down to the last bugbear would be demoralizing enough). If you don’t like it, too bad. I’d say it holds until after the tower quest, when things take a decided turn for the bizarre with the introduction of Speigelbrecher and his opposite number in Sud Canopy.


It goes downhill from there. The final act is mostly one long cutscene, except for one brutal fight, and the ending feels like a cheat after everything you’ve been through.


It’s really too bad that we’re not given the option of joining the rebels. Although I suppose nothing stops you from attacking Leader or even Bishop. Nothing except certain death, of course.


There are also a couple of side quests—well, not really quests, but things you can do—which add interest to the scenario.





There are quite a few misspellings and malapropisms, which in my view detract from the quality of the scenario. The dialogue is full of pompous pontification and bizarre non-sequiturs, though noticeably less than in some other TM scenarios. The attempts at irony are at times heavy-handed. If you have to say “This is irony,” you’re not doing it right.





My party of four gained 15 levels over the course of this scenario. They also gained items which should make them virtually unstoppable in any level-appropriate scenario not made by TM. Actually, there are very few scenarios appropriate for a level 51 party, anyway. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason for the excessive XP rewards, since the strategies that you have to use to beat this scenario rely heavily on the special spells, which work regardless of the caster’s level.





Sloggy in Act I except for the Dark Idol, more interesting and progressively more difficult as you go. While it’s refreshing to have a challenge that doesn’t just involve big bad bags of HP, the fact that many of these fights are literally impossible to beat without the special spells means that the strategies you use are not applicable in any other scenario. And while there’s one powerful spell that can be used by a pure fighter, you are forced to rely heavily on spell-casters, with their spell energy limitations. Plan on burning a lot of potions.


Overall, I’m ambivalent. While there’s nothing wrong with the basic concept of the plot, I think it could have been done much better, with more internal consistency. Then there’s the writing, which is teeth-grindingly awful in places.


On the other hand, it’s obvious that a huge amount of work went into this. It shows in the cutscenes, in the town design, in the custom items, spells, and graphics and in the way the combat is so carefully designed to force you to use all of your resources. And you are, at least, given the resources you need, with the possible exception of enough energy elixirs. Plus there’s even a bit of a puzzle or two, although the solutions are rather too convenient.


You should play this scenario if you: enjoy very challenging combat; want your party to gain tons of XP and powerful gear; are a designer, because there really are lots of nice graphics and technical bells and whistles.


You should not play this scenario if you have a low tolerance for: repeated reloads; bad writing; absurdity; force-fed philosophy; vulgarity (including—but not limited to—a hilariously unsubtle description of Bishop’s “sword”). Or if you really don’t want your party to be overpowered for the next scenario.


Edit: On reflection, and considering some of the other ratings I've given since, I realize that an average rating is just wrong. Even though there are aspects of this scenario that I actively hate, I still have to rate it:



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Just for giggles and retro-perspective, here is one of the very first posts I ever made here at SW, which was during the time I was exploring the available BoA scenarios. I was highly irritated by the experience I'd just slogged through in Canopy, and could not refrain from comment. I didn't know at all who TM was at the time. It should make for some amusing reading. I still regard the scenario the same, but would have made my points more diplomatically. Very impressive technically, very aggravating on most other counts.


Rating - 4 - [rating]Good[/rating]. I can't call this scenario average, despite what is aggravating about it.


Originally written written September 16, 2005 04:39 PM


"How do I come to utterly loathe and detest Canopy? Let me count the ways.

Firstly, in its favor, TM, while orginating from a vile and violent planet not yet specified, never fails to demonstrate his/her/its technical prowess. Apart from that, his malignant world of Canopy descends rapidly into a philosophical and linguistic morass in which ones own beloved, much-nurtured PC's are possessed and forced to dance like marionettes to the fantasy fascist drumbeats of TM's deranged plot devices.


TM takes Canopy to a new height in an endless barrage of new unspecified spell wands and magical artifacts which one can barely comprehend or carry at the rate they manifest. Upon cleaning out the Sud guard tower, one can never return to cash in on all the dropped loot, and if one does not carry out exactly what is of value the first time, it will be forever beyond one's clutches. Elements like this which unpredictably take the control out of my hands hacked me off to no end. I even lost a nice clutch of arrows I had dropped in the marketplace and never got a chance to retrieve before the ignoble ending.


Invisible bosses which curse all your PC's, make reaccumulating spell points impossible, continually teleport around so you have to keep determining their locations, and deal out dual 100 point blows per turn are not clever challenges in any way. They are the lazy and Vogel-violating invention of a designer who wants to come up with the most impossibly challenging adversary, as if this was somehow inherently fun. Never mind that it renders every rule of game play and battle of Avernum useless. If you don't have the right combination of PC strengths and weapons, there is no skill-based viable way to win such contests. I had to endure endless reloads and manipulations and ultimately getting a bit lucky with my party of two to take them out. Had the creator of this perfidy been physically present at the time, I think it would have come to literal blows.


TM simply violates the rules and spirit of Avernum at every turn and drags us through the aggro-gothic mire of his own savage fantasies. In fairness, the colony of tigers was one clever and enjoyable reprieve from the otherwise proliferating wickedness that saturates the alien worlds of TM's deranged conjurations.


Why should I have bought Invulnerability and Protection potions at the potion table provided in the scenario when nearly every boss I faced in battle renders them magically useless without explanation or warning? Nearly every single battle was reduced to finding some way of having my primary fighter physically hammer the main adversary(s) long enough to kill him while using my mage/priest to somehow keep both of them alive.


The fact that the multitude of new souped-up wands collected through the scenario have no description of their function hardly aided my efforts or my shortening fuse. If you are going to modify artifacts, please identify their function. Um...duh.


I left more things behind than ever on this level because the plot kept seizing my characters and pushing them forward. I don't like being pushed when playing a game. If I have one general criticism of many of the add-on levels I have played so far, it is that they propel me forward on auto-pilot often and have little feel at all like the world of exploration and free will that Jeff is good at creating. I know that takes a lot more thinking and work to achieve.


Despite the inventiveness and competency of the creator, Canopy continually annoyed, angered, and insulted me. Even simple aspects like the location of I.D. man forcing me to run all over around the nooks and crannies of the ridiculously designed main castle greatly decreased my enjoyment from the get-go, considering how many unique unidentifiable items one finds in this scenario requiring identification. There is a nicely conveniently constructed marketplace in the second town, but no I.D.ing there, and the exchange rate is also a kick in the behind, being Exorbitant as the only possibility. TM seems to take perverse pleasure in controlling and irritating his puppets, er, victims, er players."


We hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.


Ambivalently Yours,



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  • 2 weeks later...

It is difficult to come after these well-thought and detailed deconstructions, and then state that I liked Canopy.


But here it is:

Canopy is fairly normal for TM, in that it involves a good deal of ten-dollar philoso- and psycho-babblings, takes control of "our" characters, generates some excessive and oftentimes sensless items, and comes to a very unsatisfying conclusion; I'm not going to contest that, it's what makes TM, TM.

What draws me to this scenario is its execution and its departure from standard convention.

In terms of execution, you have essentially this: a linear plot, as described in posts above, that is essentially a series of extended battles that carry you from cutscene to cutscene. These battles are challenging, and, when combined with the custom item and spell set, force the player to all but abandon the tactics that the party has relied on to level up to the 35-50 range.

Fair? No. But that's what you get by putting yourself at the mercy of any designer. I would suggest that you stop pouting and play along.

Because once you do start to play along, you slowly learn that the designer is providing you with all of the tools that you need to survive his intentionally perverted world. You play by his rules, you get to move on; which is a rather effective embodiment of Bishop and all that Canopy represents. I don't know if TM planned it that way, but that's what we get.

True, the ending is an anticlimax: by TM's own confession, he simply didn't feel like writing more. But I find it completely in-line with the rest of the scenario: this is not the Player's game. It doesn't have to pay off.


Canopy forces the player to think unconventionally, with its unusual bosses and battles. They will be forced to reload many times to learn from their mistakes, and adapt their strategy to play TM's game. And yes, inevitably lose.


But that's what you get for playing in the first place.



Canopy's scripting has its technical highs and its annoyingly specifically-demanding lows; its' items are not effective (or overpowered) outside of its own world; the combat balance really lies on the upper end of the levels 35-50; and the "custom spells" are cumbersome and at times useless.


As long as you're willing to play by the ever-changing rules, Canopy is a ride into the potential of BoA's engine that no player, designer or no, should forget.


Because of its alternative gameplay, its custom-fitted and internally-balanced scripting, its cutscenes, and applied ideas, I would say that it is among the best that early BoA has to offer, but...

I believe that the ideal BoA scenario must respect the fact that it exists inside the continuum of BoA and therefore other scenarios, so due to its unbalanced items, disrespect for the players' own RPing, and the fact that much of Canopy's technical and visual flash has become mainstream, I can only rate it as: [rating]Good[/rating].


Personally, I believe that much of the above-posted resentment could have been avoided if TM had supplied a prefab (granted, the idea was far from common at the time), thus concretely placing Canopy in its own world, and not draging players' beloved parties into it.

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  • 9 months later...

Good lord-- that Dark Idol thing was a pain in the ass! Also, yes, the dialogue was stilted. But worse off was the fact that it wasn't displayed in dialog boxes! Many bosses were challenging, but also very impolite. I would have preferred them to go by more quickly. The combat isn't really that out of the pale, from what I can tell, though.


I thought the first mission was a little boring--especially that sloppily-designed statue fight--but I thought its role in the plot was a little more light-hearted. "Demoralizing" is an interesting euphemism for "genociding."


Ok, having the philosophy be this blatant was pretty awkward. It was bad to see the two women generals use male terms of abuse. Maybe that's just the way of the military, but the foulness there was way beyond the pale, even in this scenario. Still, some lines were ok: "Time to demonstrate the ambiguity of fortress entrances." Woo, ass-kicking! I don't know how much "philosophizing" there is, it's just kinda flat and lifeless. On the one hand, this fits the theme. On the other hand, it's just kinda flat and lifeless. I mean, I guess there's some life in Spiegelbrecher, but it's like one of Nurse Ratchet's patients: You can only believe it in a certain way.


Also, I guess I died.


I don't know. On the one hand, it's got its clear flaws. On the other hand, it's substantially longer than most of the scenarios I've played, coming close to the prefabricated ones in terms of length. Scripting is o.k., and there are a few neat tricks. So, I guess, all-and-all, it's [rating]Good[/rating]

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  • 11 months later...

From Buttered Toast on the CSR:


Canopy was an excellent scenario. I enjoyed playing it a huge amount.


The cut scenes and animations throughout were all excellent and added to the story. I especially liked the animation with Emery.


The characterization-- General Trahison, General Moerder, Leader, Emery, Spiegelbrecher, and others were all well done and easy to understand.


The philosophy was well done and did not detract from the story. It was expository not explanatory which made it much better than Roses of Reckoning and Emerald Mountain. Also you were more of a direct participant in the cut scenes and animations. Using a Wagnerian style or operatic motifs made the scenario interesting.


The fights were well done. I especially liked the Tiger Lair and the Third Level of Fortress Grenze. The only fight which I did not care for were the bugbear fights.


There were numerous unique items throughout the scenario. The reward for finding all of the mithril was excellent. The items fit well with their locations. The illusionary rod was a neat item.


The two side quests added to the scenario and did not detract.


There were a number of new effects which were added to the game: 1) The ability to blow up inanimate objects-- it was fun blowing up the stone in the bugbear area. 2) Having pitched battles with some creatures on your side. 3) Needing special items to kill some creatures. I liked all three of these-- hopefully they will be added to future scenarios.


I did not like having too many red herrings throughout the scenario. There were a number of areas which were unexplorable-- you couldn't visit Yggdrasil, nor could you go into the basement in the inn or the main fortress, or enter a secret area in the bugbear lair.


Pretty much all of the areas in the game felt polished and finished. The only area which was a little off was the student quarters and old school training area in Zephirium. These could have been a bit better. The Zephirium Inn was well done.


I am looking forward to the sequel in the land of the dead. Nearly perfect -- [rating]BEST[/rating]. The next one should be fantastic.

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From Enraged Slith at the CSR:


Canopy is the most challenging BoA scenario I have ever played, as well as one of the best. The combat was some of the best I have seen in any game; thats alot considering I think turn based combat is generally boring. This game kept me awake and interested the entire time, never becoming so overwhelming that I couldn't continue or so easy that I became bored. Canopy featured challenging combat that required actual strategy, an arsenal of special spells, an interesting story, and balanced difficulty.


What I enjoyed most about Canopy, obviously, were the combat encounters, especially those with the bosses. For once in my turn based combat playing history, I had to put actual thought into what my characters did, where they were placed, and who they attacked. My normal strategy of war blessing or divine aiding my fighters and then tearing the enemy apart did not work in this scenario, or, at least, not very well (damn General Shroud). To beat Canopy, one either had to have a godly party, or use some alternate fighting styles. More than half the time I had to tackle an entire horde of enemies with fighters under 10 health and almost no spell points. TM did a great job of putting your party in tough situations that would require more than war blessing to get out of.


Canopy's plot was interesting. Not the best I've seen, but it was done well enough to keep me playing. Unfortunately, it could have been done much better. The story was an interesting concept, but was way too one dimensional. Although it may not have fit in with the story's plans, at least one alternate story route would have made this scenario a hell of a lot better. Half the time my characters would start shouting out ideals completely against my own morals, and I would feel almost guilty killing generals such as Trahsion. I would have enjoyed siding with the "enemy," even if it meant my characters eventually going insane or something of that nature. The philosophical narratives were annoying and, although not quite as bad as I've seen, still detracted from the scenario, especially when my own characters would preach them. The story of this scenario also seemed to go in quick bursts. For instance, the story in the beginning of this scenario was very slow but, as soon as I collected all nine sun emblems, the story shot off like a rocket until the second mission when it slowed down to almost a complete halt. Then after I killed Trahsion it took off again. The story flow never ran smoothly, and it would have been better if it did.


The special spells and animations were a big plus in this scenario. They reminded me of Golden Sun. They were balanced, effective, provided alternate strategies, but the scenario became way too dependent on them. It would be literally impossible to beat this scenario without the special spells. When one only has one caster with about 110 spell points, things get tough. I had to use the character editor to sneak my caster some energy elixers a few times or never beat the scenario (In all fairness, I discovered a potion shop in Canopy today). Because casters and a whole lot of spell points are required to beat this scenario, Canopy, although still great, wasn't as good as it could have been.


Starting at 5/10:


+ 4.5 points for balanced and challenging combat

+ 3 points for the special spells and animations

+ 2 points for an interesting story

+ 1 extra point for the creative boss battles (especially Shroud)


- 3 points for the one dimensional plot line

- 0.5 points for the philosophical narratives

- 1 point for lack of flow

- 3 points for reliance on spell points and special spells


Final Score: 8.0 ([rating]GOOD[/rating])


Summary: Canopy was a well made and fun scenario, but was rough at some important points. I may have given this scenario a higher score, but I think TM has a much higher potential. His scenarios continue to get better, and I eagerly await his upcoming works.

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


I seem to be panning this, but let me 'splain:


I would start by assuming that every scenario is a 10, since I am an optimist. In brief, there was lots of flash, but nothing behind it.


The good points: Spells, and a few cool special effects.

The bad points: The blatant forcing of Gnostic theology, lack of finesse in the spells, and a contrived plot.


Remember, "An acurate thrust, correctly timed is better than fifty mistimed wild slashes." Were the special effects, cinematography, and spells cool? Sure. Did they add anything? The effects and cinematography did in certain areas, but the spells subtracted, in my oppinion. Forcing the party to use a very specific tactic takes away from the concept of "role-playing."


In my opinion, a good scenario is completable by an average party for the middle of the level range imported from another scenario, and a reasonable level of cleverness. By forcing us to make use of the scenarios technical flash, the flash became an artifice and the enemy became a vehicle for forcing the revalation of the flash.


There was, if I'm feeling generous, one character in the entire scenario: Emery. Using lietmotif is a very, very tricky proposition, and never by naming them. By naming the motifs you almost irrevocably destroy them. My concept of a "leader" or whatever is very different then someone elses. Leader becomes a cutout then. Even naming him "The Leader" you give him personality. He becomes a very annonymous king type who either subverts his own personality to that of his nation, or the coniving evil revolutionary type who is scheming some evil. For the former, see David Eddings's character "Brand the Rivan Warder" in his Belgariad cycle. I can think of perhaps five succesful implementations of annonymous leitmotif in drama and literature, none in cinema, though perhaps part of Dreams would be, and none in interactive entertainment. The style of that kind of game then has to be very different, very stylistic. Named leitmotif can work much more easily, but is still very hard. Remember, for the annonymous, I have read thousands of books, seen hundreds of plays, a similar number of movies, and played hundreds of games. Five in well over ten thousand, the odds are not too good.


Lets move on to philosophy. If I want to be told the way the world works, I can go to synagogue. If I want to be preached, I can go to synagogue. If I want to be entertained, I can play a game. If the game, book, movie, play, music, TV show, opera, or whatever asks me "What if the world worked like this...?" I can see that as a plus. If the medium tells me "The world works like this... Deal with it." I tell it to shove itself. I should clarify this by saying that explaining the rules of a fantasy world is voered by suspense of disbelief, but the line is there.


All told, the only redeming feature was the scripting tricks. Everything else was 1-D and pretty bleh. The lack of a plot makes it the worst scenario I have played. At least ZKR had a plot, as did VoDT, ASR, DwtD, and Emerald Forest.



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


Blegh, another masterpiece.


I loved the added spells. They added so much fun (and a limited number of strategies). I used them as often as I could, just for the heck of it.


As always, the story is elaborate and I loved it (even if I didn't get most of it).


Plus, the ending's inevitable death made it even better.



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From Lilith on the CSR:


Does anyone play scenarios for plot any more? Given time, I could probably think of half a dozen good BoE scenarios in which plot was the primary selling point.




If TM's plots are what TM needs to write in order to motivate himself to finish his scenarios, more power to him. The rest of us play to be impressed by his fancy technical trickery, and Canopy doesn't disappoint. Canopy introduces special spells to BoA, and I for one am glad that TM made them an integral part of gameplay; the standard BoA engine just doesn't offer much variety in terms of combat, thanks to the small range of spells and the overpowering strength of abilities like Divine Aid. Some are more useful than others, but at least there are some interesting ones (like Naturshand) in there (even if that particular example has an obscenely long and repetitive casting animation).


Combat had a pleasant amount of challenge and variety, at least in the boss fights. Much as I was frustrated by being unable to rely on the usual strategy of Divine Aiding and bludgeoning everything to death in melee, it was nice to be required to do a little thinking for a change.


Unfortunately, not all fights were so novel or worthwhile. Cleaning out most of the bugbear town and much of Grenze was just a chore. Still, at the times when the scenario didn't feel too much like work, it was very good indeed.



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:



As one of the Beta-testers for this Canopy, This one is a well balanced and difficult scenario.


Having read some of the reviews, I disagree with some of the comments. In regards to the dialog, it is well done, just talk with someone who is a fanatic on a subject in real life, and you will see that they accually talk that way. This reflection within the scenario is great,


The dealing with the bugbears is a good point. as a "specialist" you get stuck with the grunge work...aka taking out the trash, unglamourous, but a nessisary task. Life is not all glamor.


He has left a lot of teaser's...what is under the inn???? And what is behind that wall in the bug-bear cave??



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


Overall I liked it. Finally a scenario where I could use my original party. There were some difficult fights, and a lot of them recquired figuring stuff out (I even had to look at the read my a couple of times). The bad thing was the forced plot. I really hate having no say in things, so thats why I'll have to rate it [rating]GOOD[/rating]. It would be intresting to see another version of this scenario made, where u don't day and can side with whomever you chose.

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From Ixitxachitl on the CSR:


C'mon, people, this is TM.


Forced philosophy? What else are we really expecting?


It does get a little annoying at times, but, as mentioned, it's TM's style, and we have to put up with it if we want those beautiful technical tricks.


Everything else I'd usually say has been pretty well said by those above me, so I'll just end with a rating of [rating]GOOD[/rating].

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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


"Congratulations, TM! You've just won the Most Rabid CSR Review Ever Contest by denouncing a scenario for offering nothing but 'empty, poseurist questions . . . . already erected by the Matrix (which was, coincidentally, a clone of Ghost in the Shell).' What are you going to do next?"


"I'm going to release a scenario that could be denounced for offering nothing but . . . ."


See, I don't know whether even TM finds his plots interesting anymore. He sure seems to have made Canopy do penance for their sins. Aside from the wizzbangs -- which are impressive, although few of the special spells seem motivated by anything besides the need for technical innovation -- the scenario has the energy, hope and ambition of a five-year-old fresh off a session with daddy's belt. Combat apart, the whole experience felt leaden and listlessly cluttered with design concepts, characters and a flea market of loot. (The beta had more clutter than the final version, however, so I may be letting my first impressions cloud my sense on that score). Nevertheless, Canopy worth playing, and it advances BoA significantly. And in the long run, it's probably a good thing if TM has gotten restless and bored with his current brand of mad-bomber design -- as long as he decides to go nuts in some other way.



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


Innovative, interesting, challenging.


One problem with high-level scenarios is that high-level parties differ greatly from one another, so enemies, particularly bosses, cannot be set to have very specific weaknesses. Combat thus becomes a boring matter of pounding away at a creature with a massive number of hit points.


Canopy gets around this problem by providing the party with customized spells. Thus, combat becomes tactically challenging once again, as bosses in particular can be given specific strengths and weaknesses. This makes the various set-piece battles a joy to play.


Canopy also tries to get around the 'illusion of choice' problem. An RPG is an interactive environment, but only so many possibilities can be catered for by a scenario designer. TM has loaded Canopy with cutscenes, and placed the burden of (apparent) choice as much as possible on the antagonists, leaving the player with a very linear plotline.


In some instances this can be annoying, particularly for rebellious players who like to make up their own mind about things. Nevertheless, allowing for branching plotlines takes time, which would have no doubt taken away from some of the more fun technical aspects of the scenario.


Its always going to be a trade-off, and though us players can say on which side of the line we would rather stand, it is TM's scenario, so in this case, the choice falls to him.



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


My take is a bit unusual and will no doubt baffle some.


First of all, I hated the so-called 'special spells'. If they had simply been called "wands"(which is what they were) rather than trying to trying so damned hard to get us to pretend they were new spells, I would not have minded. The effect would have been the same to simply create a bunch of special wands with the same effects adn make certain enemies susceptible to those effects. Trying to pass them off as a feature that the BoA engine does not allow for(new spells) is no mopre convincing than replacing the PC graphic for your nephilim with an elf graphic and pretending you have an elf in your party.


These wands take up an inventory slot and can be freely traded between players(unlike spells) and they do not show up in the spell-casting menus(unlike spells).


May seem like a minor quibble but it is a pet peeve of mine.


While I am no fan of (excessive)linearity, the linearity in this scenario did not bother me so much. This may be because there were so many more important things to worry about(bugs, console-styled multi-incarnation boss enemies etc.).


I could not even bring myself to finish the scenario. I beat Shroud twice but when the third incarnation appeared and trounced my party I had simply lost interest. I could not muster the enthusiasm to sit through the cut scenes and diualogue again just to defeat a bad guy who was terribly uninteresting. Having two incarnations of an individual is usually too many but three is inexcuseable.


I rate this scenario [rating]GOOD[/rating]because, for all it's warts, it is still fun overall and worth playing and TM does push the envelope for the technical aspects which I can only assume is good for the future of BoA scenario design.

Also, I like his (mostly)no-nonsense approach to town design.

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From Smoo on the CSR:



I liked Canopy more than Emerald Mountain. It was longer and not that linear, meaning I could actually walk somewhere without someone telling me I have to go that way first.


The fights were challenging especially for my non-spell-casting singleton. In fact some of the fights were impossible so I had to resort to cheating, modifying the scripts.


The plot was OK. It's what made me want to cheat, so I could see how the whole thing ended. Although I think the characters were all a bit bland.


At any rate a good-enough scenario.



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From PoD on the CSR:


I liked this scenario the most out of all of them that have been released for BoA so far, and I don't own (or intend to own) BoE, hence the high score.


The issue that most have had with it seems to be that words are put into the player's mouth, and the player doesn't have any choices. I, however, was not bothered in the least by these things. I play computer games to escape reality through fantasy. I don't have to control a representation of myself in the fantasy world. I'm perfectly OK with being given a set of opinions; in fact, since I get a little tired of being myself as well as of my reality, it's kind of nice if I don't agree with or (in this case) understand them at all. Refreshing, if you will.


Maybe I would have been bothered more if what my characters had to say wasn't sort of incidental to the plot.


What really struck me about this scenario was that Canopy was given a life beyond my characters, their problems, and their actions. They couldn't go everywhere, do everything, or solve every problem, and their actions weren't the be-all and end-all of causality in the game world. I felt like my characters' story was just one compelling narrative in a larger drama, and I dug that.


Now let's talk about the plot. I think the philosophy made a lot of people give up on understanding it, but I thought the two were sort of independent of each other. I loved how my party was caught in this huge interplay between all the different powerful forces. There was the war between North and Sud Canopy, and then the battle between Emery and Trahison's crew, Fusei's and (one of the other ones)'s refusal to take revenge on the party, and then the final drama of Spiegelbrecher's betrayal.


All right, now onto the narrative. I loved how immediate it was. The cutscenes and the text were hardly ever exposition; they were always confrontation, development of the plot, or some mixture of both. Similarly, after the bugbears, there was no more unjustified combat. All the combat was prefaced by cutscenes or text to explain why I was about to kill something. Similarly, except for the bugbear village and the goblins, killing stuff almost always advanced the plot. This, more than anything, made me feel immersed in the scenario.


It is true that the characters don't really get developed all that much, but for whatever reason, that didn't bother me all that much.


Enough has been said about the combat already. The only things I feel compelled to say are that Grenze reminded me of that unfinished Bruce Lee movie, The Game of Death , and that it only felt like a chore if you felt compelled to kill everything, which I didn't. I left most of the rebellious soldiers alive once I had the key to the next level.


Oh, and Maximilian is a godsend in Bahssikava, but that's a story for another review.


So, in conclusion, Canopy is an excellent scenario with, as others have said, good technical wizzbangs, and what I think is an excellent plot and role-playing experience (remember, an actor doesn't write the script for his own role).



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


I once again tried to play this scenario after giving up a week or two ago. I just can't force myself to do it. I don't think I've ever seen a game that was more painfully bad to try to play. It's reminiscent to watching a home movie by the adult who still wears Mighty Morphin Power Ranger pajamas and having to listen to how it's suposedly the greatest science fiction ever made.


The game starts out with a cutscene of a woman who somehow makes the ground go upwards, displays a variety of the built-in special effects when she swings her sword, and then a text window pops up putting words into the character's heads about how AWESOME they think it was. Um, no, that was painfully lame. Poorly pixelated wannabe anime characters make Baby Jesus cry, mkay?


Then we go see a leader called "Leader" (yes, OK, the designer swears that this holds deep significance about a faceless society or whatever pseudo-intellectual nonsense he cooked up this week), where he orders us to go find symbols... And for all the talk about how it's important to break new ground and all that, these symbols are just the standard Avernum ones from the other games. Odd, that. Then the cutscene fairies take control of the player characters again and make them do something that is sickenly reminiscent of s Sieg Heil to the great Leader and pledge their undying loyalty.


OK, clue here, the player characters belong to the PLAYER. That's kind of where the name came from, don'tchyaknow? I don't appreciate someone with a really bizarre and screwed up personally philosophy shoving their hands up my PC's backsides and making them spout nonsense like puppets.


And it just gets worse. For some rather control obsessive reason, the Cloud of Blades spell is shut off. And there are magic wands that we are supposed to pretend are spells because the game engine doesn't let people make new spells... And they couldn't just be normal items like they actually function as, because that wouldn't be so uber kewl as he wanted things to be.


And on and on with all this nonsense that is highly insulting of the player's intelligence with the only reward being shuffling off to whatever clumsy, messed up opponent we get next.


But then I'm not sure why I ever thought I could play this, because even the little text description that shows up next to the scenario icon before you enter it screams of pretentiousness. Ugh.


If someone were purposefully trying to make a game unenjoyable, they could probably do worse. The guy obviously knows a little something about coding, although he can't apply it in a way that make a fun game to save his soul, or perhaps he can but refuses to do so. So it's gets a rating of [rating]SUBSTANDARD[/rating]. If it was painfully bad, unenjoyable, AND coded poorly it would have dipped lower.

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From hoohah on the CSR:


First off, I can't understand people who whine about anything they got for free. I would be hard pressed to say how many hundreds of hours went into this scenario, but I certainly appreciated it - well done! I have no right to expect anything more or different from someone who did this much work.


Graphics were first-rate, as others have said. It was a unique feeling, not just another avernum town and forest. The creativity was very impressive in the new spells, mixtures of terrains and town types, and characters.


Combat was the best of any scenario I have played - you had to think to survive. Only Valzier butchering my level 4 party made me go back to a save file more often. There were enough hints to find the right tactic and I finally had to use spells I typically ignore (like summoning). I liked the disabling of various spells and other special abilities to create balanced high-level encounters (I agree cloud of blades is too powerful - it should cost a lot more SP). It added another dimension to the puzzle solving and made me wish I hadn't sold my fireblast wands!


Towns were awesome - loved the seven-layer cake (enter combat mode in the kitchen, stick one characters head in the mess hall briefly and step back out - it is hilarious listening to the fight and seeing arrows flash through the darkness). The use of elevation was very impressive (though I wish BOA had more realistic line-of-sight restrictions on elevation so I can't target someone through a cliff edge). The fifth floor would have been harder except I could run away through the east door.


I don't like to use the character editor to build up my characters, so I pay a lot of attention to loot. The new items were very interesting (Adlerauge especially). I really appreciated the chance to sell my loot after Grenze - its silly but it is part of the atmosphere.


If were to suggest one thing to designers, it is to give people who want to level without the character editor (or HLPM) some outlet in their scenarios. I came in to the scenario a little light (level 31) and there was not much chance for me to build myself up to a high level before taking on the bosses. Maybe some respawning or wandering encounters in the bugbear area would help people like me toughen up and practice some of the new spells.


I never did find many of the spells - maybe expand the readme hints to tell us where to pick them up - I think I must have missed a side quest or there was some bug because I only got scry, baldev, blattstrahl, flamenentwurf, tetra-disaster, shinibiimu, and achilles. There were some "treasure rooms" that I found where the chests were empty (garden room in bugbear cave, elevated rooms in dark idol room), and I never got the demon sword mentioned in the hints.


Thanks to TM (and to Jeff Vogel - I think he gets some undeserved whining too - just remember that someone who gives you something to complain about is FAR better than someone who gives you nothing to complain about).



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From Linthar on the CSR:


Figuring out what score to give this scenario is difficult. On one hand the technical aspect of the scenario is absolutely wonderful. The story however in my opinion is rather bad and confusing.


Between the special spells, some of the more unique fights, and a few of the cutscenes, there is a lot of moments that rather impressed me.


I still don't have much of an idea of what on earth was happening toward the end. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but from finishing Fortress Grenze to completing the scenario I was quite confused on what was going on.


Also I encountered a few annoying bugs, but I probably just had an old version of the scenario, and I was able to fix both of them easily.


Now my final decision is to give Canopy a rating of [rating]GOOD[/rating]. It's good but its downsides keep me from giving it a higher score.

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From Kelandon on the CSR:


So I finally took the plunge


... and played Canopy. Small spoilers follow. Skip to the bottom to avoid them.




For the record, I used a first char that was a basic melee fighter with significant levels of Lethal Blow, a second char that was primarily an archer with some priest spells, a third char that had some archery skill but more priest spells, and a fourth char that had lots of mage and priest spells. They all had big disadvantages (Completely Inept, that sort of thing) in hope that they would gain lots of levels, but they never did. I started with a level 45 party, but after being killed by the tigers in the first fight about 10 times, I got bored and used a level 60 party instead.


My first reaction was that if this was supposed to be the example of "good combat" in BoA, I'm disappointed. I hated most of the combat. Despite having ranted at me about taking out filler in Bahssikava, TM used a great deal of filler in the Bugbear Village and Fortress Grenze. Granted, most of Fortress Grenze could be ducked past, but certain none of the fights in the Bugbear Village or the first few levels of Grenze interested me at all. One did stand out, but the invisibility thing wasn't particularly interesting; I just found it annoying.


The scenario really divides into two halves: before meeting the white and black shades, and after. The combat beforehand is mostly filler; after, it's mostly boss fights. The boss fights were difficult, but not fun. I found myself having fun only three times: the two times fighting Trahison and maybe a little fighting Um-whatever. Otherwise, I found the challenge to be the same: "How can I survive the first three or four rounds, after which everything becomes a matter of mopping up?" Yes, the solutions were different each time (summon, use "special spells," etc), but the challenge was always the same.


And please, being out of spell points is not a combat puzzle. I made free use of the character editor to restore my characters.




Here's where I could go nuts, but I won't. Like I said above, the scenario cuts in half neatly. In the first half, the plot mostly makes sense but is not particularly compelling. In the second, the plot makes little sense and everyone suddenly turns into a TM philosobabbler. I'm pretty sure I understood some of it, and it was disappointingly uninteresting.


At any rate, the parade of characters made most of them nameless and faceless until they showed up. ("General Moerder? Who the hell is that?" I thought.) Most the same complaints that TM makes about Bahssikava apply here. (This includes, oddly enough, the status of women. Lealta was not exactly a compelling example of any sort of womanhood, nor was Moerder.)


As always, TM uses a bizarre mixture of pseudo-German and pseudo-Japanese names, with one or two bits of pseudo-Latin thrown in. There doesn't seem to be any reason for this linguistic confusion -- it's just sort of assumed.


The writing is coarse all the way through, which detracts from whatever meaning it might have. (The "Goddamn" song? This was truly a wtf moment.)




Item balance was generous, but not excessive.


The combats are more or less at the same difficulty level -- well, the boss fights are much, much harder, but they're all much harder, so it's sort of okay, and they gradually ramp up in difficulty as you go on, which is fine.


Smoothness, however, is definitely lacking. As noted above, the action starts and stops at jolting rates. If Emulations suffered from one major deceleration, Canopy suffers from about three or four. Similarly, the first long cut scene was cool, but the fact that the entire scenario turns into one long cut scene after that is not.




Mis-spellings, improper usages, and bugs are present to a saddening degree. I understand it, because in a scenario of this size, it's damn hard to keep track of everything, and god knows Bahssikava was worse when I first made it, but still, we expect more.


They're all over the place: one of the first messages mis-uses the word "quip"; a dialog seems not to get reset in Schwrt looking at the blacksmith's things; complements/compliments from Alexander in Zephyrium Inn; then Baldev isn't to the northeast in his home tiger town, but you're told he is; the "no way out" message in the Catacombs should be one-time; "there weren't" when he means "weren't there" walking out of Catacombs; Leader says both "codeword" and "code word"; about Lealta, "She barely acknowledges you, regarding you as a logical course of action," which makes no sense regardless of context; talking to one of the many uber-villains in Grenze, the best dialog choice is apparently "Your lack of a way and the merits therein justify us too," which I'm sure means something, but it carries no meaning as stated; I killed Tod in the first fight but fought him again in the second one as if I had killed the other one; "rigamortis" for "rigor mortis"; "hypnotized never lie" probably ought to be "THE hypnotized"; "seperate" for "separate"; "sublty" for "subtlely"; "illusory" for "illuminating" or something like that; the distinctive TM mis-spellings, "moreso," "thusfar," and "hunh"; "which ever" instead of "whichever"; and probably others I didn't make note of.


And a number of things seem kind of odd, even if I can't say that they're outright wrong: Baldev shows "sagacity" when you first meet him, which is a pretty questionable word choice; Emery J. Bishop says, "Fight your way to the centripetal force and amalgamate yourself with it," which has no meaning in context and is never explained; the logic of the Moerder/Gatekeeper interaction is outright bizarre and never explained ("I hate you and will flagrantly violate your authority in one respect, but I will obey you for no reason in another"); "You are... RATATOSK!!!1111"; and probably many others, too.


Each of these tears down the scenario bit by bit. For example, the last one happens when General Shroud dies. Now, this is supposed to be the climactic moment of the scenario: you're just killed the last big bad guy, and you're finally breaking into enemy territory and doing things that seem significant and grand, and you've just fought a REALLY tough battle, and then the dying words of this enemy are a complete non sequitur that do not ever get explained. Ratatosk? It killed all of the excitement, all of the suspense, the entire mood.




The atmosphere might have been cool -- had it not been killed by lack of polish and horribly weird logic and the occasional moment when I feel obliged to laugh at the scenario. When Miraa says things like, "Correct you are," I think, "Talk like Yoda you must." When Schegelbrachenstuffenweinerschnitzel says, "Irony is such a delicious craft element" (twice!), I want to say, "Delicious like Kraft Cheese, and TM, stop making the characters comment on their own design within the context of the scenario, dammit."




Good at times, really bad at other times, technically advanced, but not in the right ways in the right places. It played as though TM really wanted to make a BoA scenario that felt like a BoE scenario, and I don't like that. I'm conflicted about a final rating, because honestly I liked Emerald Mountain more, but this scenario does so much more than EM but lacks on so much of a grander scale because of it.


I rate it at [rating]GOOD[/rating]: I can appreciate the effort that went into it, but I can't say I enjoyed it much.

Edited by Tyranicus
added reviewers name
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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


I've got to say this scenario was way overrated. I really have no fresh new critique, I agree with the previous posters. But the downsides were far weightier than more generous reviewers accounted for.


I'm tempted to rate this as low as possible just to drag the score down to levels that I feel would be more appropriate, but that would be just as dishonest as those who gave it exaggerated ratings to bloat the score, and inconsiderate to the players who genuinely enjoyed this hunk of cr@p.


It was technically and experimentally bold, but hamhanded, arrogantly short-sighted, and not in the least entertaining.



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From an unknown reviewer on the CSR:


To sum it up in a sentence: redundant in the beginning, redundant AND confusing as heck in the end.



Slightly longer summing up:


I think that one of the things about TM's scenarios that compels me to give them low scores is a mixture of both the forced philosophy, extremely linear plots(can you call them that?), very little to really explore, and almost cult-like behavior codes of the characters(why I play them, you ask? I don't bother looking to see who made it, and there's always the need to check to see if he's coded a nifty new weapon for one of my characters to play with. Even I'll admit that the coding was impressive.). I play RPGs as a form of escapism from the rigid, redundant real world. I wouldn't be caught dead spouting most of the stuff that gets put in my characters' mouths, and I've already got set personalities for each of them anyway.



Things I liked:


- The tiger cave.

- The fact that the Bugbears are apparently sun-worshipers, despite the lack of sun


Things I didn't like(aside from what's listed above):


- The redundant names of.... well.... everything....

- The 'new spells'


- The Bugbear quest (Oooh, look! The Bugbears have a religion! Let's demoralize them by stealing all their religious symbols! They're all going to be dead anyways once I'm through with them. Why bother?)

- The uber-long cutscenes in the last half (I'm sorry, but philosophical babbling can only hold my attention for so long before I space out.)

- The fight between the lady and the... other lady. (If I recall correctly, there's a timelapse, then a spot of ground goes up, special effects and funny words are used, one of the ladies runs off shrieking threats of revenge)

- Most of the boss battles

- The ending seemed way too anticlimactic

- TM could have actually gone somewhere with the giant tree, but he didn't.



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From Lazarus on the CSR:


Lets get something out of the way, if you're looking for a good story then you're looking in the wrong place. Canopy exists pretty much solely for the combat. It does have some good moments like the bugbear dungeon and the ending (hurray futility!), but the combat is why you're bothering to play. It does a good job in this respect, summon spells were a cool touch that have yet to be immitated, and combat was so tough you felt you'd accomplished something after every boss fight.


This scenario once had the distinction of best combat, and were I rating it about a year ago I'd probably give it a higher score. With the release of E:R it no longer has the distinction of best combat, and scenarios like MA really put this scenario's plot (or lack thereof) to shame.



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From Nioca on the CSR:


I can't really add that much to what's already been said. The only thing I can really say is that there are two points in which it can be confusing as to what to do next. And the whole 'you are an illusion to obey my command' thing was just weird. And not in a good way. The fact that I was forced to play along wasn't really enjoyable either, nor was Spegieal-whatever's sudden and pointless outburst of profanity. The bugbear quest could leave you wandering around for a long time as well, trying to find one last emblem.


A good scenario, but it has it's faults.



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From Iffy on SV:


I can't believe I haven't rated this yet; I thought I did...


Canopy was an interesting scenario.

It started out at a nice difficulty and understandable strory.


Then there was the first boss, which killed me several times.


After that, difficulty was nice again, and then it got hard. It did this several times in this scenario.


The final boss, however, was way too hard. I had to cheat once with the editor to restore health and spell points. I came into this scenario at the suggested level.


Combat was cool, though.


I learned one thing, however. Never enter TM's scenarios at the suggested level. Go higher.


Story - Good

Combat - Good

Scripting - Best

Terrain Layout - Best

Dialogue - Best (It was funny getting that one guy in jail!)


Final Score - [rating]GOOD[/rating]

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  • 10 years later...


Much effort seems to have been put into town design and the outdoor area, and what I particularly liked was how efficiently compact the outdoors were - no need to spend a lot of time traveling huge distances between points of interest. Nice visual effects of spells or other special actions in cutscenes were pleasant eye-candy. Custom graphics were also nice to see.

9/10 for the looks.



Difficult, but rewarding. Killing the uber wizard using lasers was a great feeling, and bosses having various special abilities and weaknesses made it all the more interesting.

I did not use the item-spells overmuch as I prefer the existing system, except vs bosses where necessary. Then again, my party was overpowered to begin with.

Omitting the item-spells and having combat work with vanilla spells/abilities would be make it more fun for me, because as it is, I needed to pick up every item-spell I stumbled upon because I didn't know what it did or if its use would be mandatory later on.

Item-spells would be much better if they had detailed descriptions and their SP cost toned down (some, at least). Main plus about combat is that it didn't feel too tedious and boring.

7/10 combat.


Writing and plot

Oh boy this is where it all goes to dirt.

Character and location names, item-spells, dialogues; it all seemed incredibly silly to me. Several times I've re-read some lines, hoping to pierce the meaning of the sentences themselves, but failed.

It was either the sentence structure, weird flow of the dialogue or some outright random heap of words, which made me not care in the end. So many German inspired names, and then some Japanese out of nowhere, haha!

The plot was really bizarre, to say the least. I wasn't even surprised when the party just got randomly murdered in a cutscene. As people before have said, and what bothered me much as well, is forcing the PCs into author's own choices, opinions/ramblings like it does, which bothered me greatly.

Riddled with plot holes and clearly unfinished, overall, writing and plot are 2/10 in my case.


A visually pleasant scenario, technically advanced, but extremely confusing to the point of bizarre. Were it not for the effort involved into it, I'd dismiss it as author's joke. The only way to get myself to replay it would be if I wanted some of the overpowered gear for a future party.




Rating: [rating]AVERAGE[/rating]



Edited by Mr.TiC
the [rating] command, I don't really understand it
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