Jump to content

An Apology


Recommended Posts

Just replayed it, and it was much better than I rated it before. The plot was excellent, and very dark. The setup was excellent, it's all a storybook! Nice to see the SAGE gremlins again.

 

There are a series of interesting scenes and things for you to do. The gremlins were fun, as was doing the chores for Alcritas. I also liked the executions in the town square, and the moment where the narrator gets the story wrong. The combat and graphics are also great as well.

 

Overall, probably my second favorite scenario.

 

I rate this scenario Best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Looking back on this, the combat went overboard. Of course, all of that is mitigated by the sheer creativity found in this scenario. The rush Alcritas puts the player through is unparalleled. The part of the "Sliths, no Troglos, oh yeah, Sliths" was simultaneously hilarious and infuriating. Brilliant!

 

BEST

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

DRAKEFYRE

 

An Apology is, by far, one of Alcritas's better scenarios. It demonstrates an excellent mastery of special nodes, an intriguing plot, and offers challenging combat for experienced players. As we first glance at this astonishing work, we must take into consideration Alcritas's other scenarios, most of which were excellent. An Apology is a fitting continuation of the series, although it goes about it in an unconventional manner.

 

First off, there is no outdoors whatsoever, unless you uncover the bug in the Syracuse. All traveling between towns is taken care of by forced stairways. This may have reduced the time necessary for completion, but it has not affected the novelty of the scenario in any way.

 

In addition to this, the plot is extremely linear, as you are forced by the stairways to do whatever Xenophon bids of you. However, I feel that this does not detract from the scenario at all, but adds a sense of importance and urgency, which is further developed by the dialogue of Xenophon, Alcritas, Kaleb, Kriken, and more. Alcritas has set new standards in this scenario with several scenes, which I will delve into in detail.

 

One of the first innovative sequences is Dreams of Forever, a black and white dream town. Eventually Sage can be found here, but the slow deterioration of the walls, ground, and people is wonderfully executed. Another such scene is the Road to Corinth, a town in which the party is set upon by a group of raiding sliths, which change as the storyteller remembers different accounts of the battle. Imagine my consternation when, without notice, the lone Slith Warrior turns into a band of Troglodytes!

 

This brings up another point about the scenario, the challenging combat. In the normal, difficult version, my two-PC party barely survived each encounter, and kept me on the edge of my seat. My six-PC party was better equipped for the situations, but they still lost two PCs during the course of the scenario. Though not nearly as hard as some scenarios I've played, this was the most challenging for the low-level party, and my score reflects that.

 

The multi-faceted story is improved upon by Socrates (er . Alcritas). who gives you chores to do before he'll help you and your mentor, Xenophon. Feeding the Morgles and watering the glowing plants are among the innovative chores and really show node mastery beyond what Jeff Vogel intended.

 

The last dungeon, the Syracuse, is remarkable. A large ship, the Syracuse comes complete with explosives, a chase scene, and a tough combat at the end. One of my few quibbles is that the Syracuse can be left, leading the party into an empty outdoors, with no possibility for re-entry.

 

Overall, I have few gripes with this marvelous scenario. However, I have one last quibble. When I played the scenario with a level five singleton, the monster levels doubled, making the game nearly impossible, and it was sheer luck that I managed to win.

 

My score: Best

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DRIZZT

 

How does one follow up the masterpiece of Redemption, what I and many others consider to be the flat-out best scenario ever made for Blades? Alcritas has offered An Apology, which is, in a word, unique. To be sure, it’s an excellent scenario, but, in the author’s own words (from somewhere), whereas Redemption was experimental on a micro-level sense, An Apology is experimental on a macro-level sense.

 

And it works. An Apology is so different from most other scenarios, that it defies a standard review. Highlighted below are its main innovations, and other parts of the scenario I found well done.

 

An Apology requires a low level party. Not only does it say this in the text file, your level is also “checked” at the beginning of the scenario. This is integrated so smoothly into the plot of the scenario that you might not even notice it. This idea isn’t new, although Alcritas is the first designer to implement it into a scenario.

 

This requirement enabled Alcritas to make An Apology the first combat based scenario, where the main puzzles are integrated into battles. Not just a room full of liches (and maybe a dragon!), or even the Special Spells that made Spy’s Quest mind-numbingly hard, but real combat challenges, because I couldn’t bring in my level 50 bruiser party. I think this part has frustrated many players, and cause many people to think less highly than they should of this scenario, but the fact remains: An Apology is hard, in a very good and well designed way. I reloaded my game many times trying to destroy the rune in the first battle, all the while watching demons appear around me, the other runes slowly changing color and an ever expanding portal. This created a sense of urgency and excitement that is in few other scenarios, and something I welcomed.

 

In fact, there aren’t many traditional puzzles in An Apology, and those that are there are perfectly integrated into the flow of the story (designers take note!), the way good puzzles should be. I had fun cleaning Alcritas’ house (not his real house, but the character Alcritas that appears in the game. Perhaps Jeff will put that feature in Blades 2.0), feeding Morgles, and chasing down an antidote for a sick gremlin, another often humorous fixture in Alcritas’ scenarios. The best thing about these puzzles is that they were logical and fit into the story, and not another lever maze, or a door that, for some unknown reason, won’t open until you give it the password. Alcritas has never designed puzzles better than here.

 

The story of An Apology is also told in a unique, narrative style. The player is actually listening to a story about some other adventurers, a bit more experienced than themselves. Furthermore, the narrator’s voice will occasionally pop in, reminding the player that this is just a story. I smiled (and groaned) when the Trogs I was fighting changed into Sliths and then back into Trogs, all because the storytellers couldn’t quite remember how it went. Very nice.

 

An Apology also takes place entirely within towns ... there are no outdoors in which to rest and regain strength and spell points. This has been done before, in Trouble In Mendor, for one, but here it is done a bit differently. Instead of just preventing the party from leaving town, where everything takes place, Alcritas uses narratives to describe outdoor movements, and outdoor “towns” when the party is attacked or reaches another destination. This is also done very effectively.

 

Finally, An Apology contains a dream sequence, much shorter and less dangerous than the one in Redemption, but absolutely unique in its use of custom graphics. I won’t give anything away, but the effect it had, including the unique figure at the end and his ominous words, just blew me away. I was so mad when I saw what Alcritas had done here, but only because he had thought of it first. Absolutely brilliant.

 

An Apology is, quite simply, another masterpiece from Alcritas. Shorter than, but much tighter than Redemption, the story grabs you from the beginning, takes you on a wild ride through Alcritas’ world, confronts you with murder, betrayal, good and evil, and leaves you wanting more. I give it a 9.7, but only to encourage Alcritas to work that much harder for a 10 in his next effort. This is among the best scenarios around.

 

Not epic length, but an epic story and a masterpiece of a scenario.

 

BEST

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ROSYCAT

 

Best

I loved this one. Fast-paced, it was the first scenario I played at one sitting. I actually thought its shortness improved it. Adding more would have been tacking on unnecessary bits.

If I have one complaint, it's that the player never got to make any choices. This made sense, given the narration style, but annoyed me a fair bit because I felt as if I could do nothing to change the situation. This is the only part which keeps me from saying it's my favourite of Alcritas' scenarios. I adored the rune battle. The suspense! And doing the chores for Alcritas made me laugh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ALEC KYRAS

 

Readily the best scenario ever made. When I wrote my review, I noted Alcritas was not, as I had feared, sitting on his laurels; nowadays he seems to have retired, which is just as bad. But it still stands as the best thing I have ever seen in Blades of Exile, fighting for the distinction only with Thuryl's Roots. BEST

 

----

 

An Apology, the newest scenario by Alcritas, is, by anyone else’s standards, a masterpiece. (I should know, I was the first one to beat it. Ask Alcritas.) With the “no outdoors” concept that is all the rage these days, it adds a unique element to judging it.

 

First, let’s have a look at the good points. The custom graphics were made— and used— well, the special nodes are to (maybe even beyond!) what is expected of even an exceptional designer like Alcritas. The “No Outdoors” concept, while it has been done before, has been done exceptionally. The dream sequence bowled me over, and added to an atmosphere much more mirthful than the rest of Alcritas’s scenarios. The NPCs have been done well, but this must be expected (It’s Alcritas, people! He made Redemption and Of Good And Evil!). The rest of the good points shall be explained fully later.

 

But then, every gem has its flaws. Until half of the scenario has passed, one has an impossible time figuring out exactly WHAT is going on. Monsters are FAR too hard to destroy for a beginning party, especially that annoying “Rune” battle! Even with my 5 AP Ambidextrous Flaming-Weapon 1pc party, I had to reload eight times during the Syracuse encounter. But this is a minor squabble. The plot is good, but not good from the standards we hold on Alcritas. (It’s much worse when great writers turn out okay books than when okay writers turn them out.). The “Dreams of Forever” sequence didn’t last long enough, but that’s more of a positive thing. Fort Tassle would be enriched by being smaller. Most battles, like “Ambushed!”, can be escaped easily.

 

Overall, however, it’s Alcritas’s first *light* scenario (not comedy, or really all that funny, but lighter than all others, in my opinion), and it deserves to be judged as such.

 

Go and play it— it’s a great scenario, and worth the five hours it takes to beat.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LEW TITTERTON

 

An Apology is easily the most cinematic scenario ever designed — which is to say, this is a very linear scenario where the party — and player — do a great deal of watching and not too much playing. Even the fighting, which is often intense, and rewardingly so, is structured in such a manner that there’s really only one way to do it — you will fight this battle at this time, and you will either succeed or die.

 

As Blades goes, the movie edge here is pulled off splendidly. Insanely complex strings of specials cause creatures to teleport in and out, portals and magical forcefields to appear and disappear, and even a rather gruesome execution of women and children. Typically, Alcritas uses his wit and penchant for morbidity, esp. in that last example. Custom graphics are used excellently and extensively — my only gripe is that a statue of a giant acolyte has been enlarged by 4X, but the resolution is the same. This looks very sloppy, a rare example of graphical laziness that Alcritas also inexplicably did with the “Mother Roach” in Redemption. For a guy who works so hard on his scenarios, and to such great results, why not spend another fifteen minutes and make these larger graphics better defined as well?

 

Still, Apology is an expertly done scenario — on a technical level, very possibly the best ever, better than even classics like Redemption. So why does Apology leave me so empty, frustrated, and even pissed off? No, it’s not the difficulty — first, if you find it so hard, there’s an easier version, and second, I liked the challenge and played the hard version, enjoying its toughness. No, my problem is that Apology has a fundamentally flawed concept: to be a Blades movie. Let’s face it, no matter how good a designer you are — and Alcritas is the best — Blades isn’t about graphics and sound, the two components of cinema. Blades offers just 100 sounds, all of them pretty chintzy, and there’s no custom sound feature. Putting some Steely Dan on your CD player while you play never hurts, but then, that has nothing to do with Blades, does it? Even Blades graphics abilities are limited — no matter how good a custom designer you are, your custom sheet can only be so large (there are somewhat low maximum numbers for most types of graphics), and the degree of animation in Blades is limited to a maximum of four measly movements for any terrain or character, and no movements for any other type of graphic! (Dialogue pics, items, etc.) Quite simply, the fun of Blades is playing it, yet playing Apology is secondary at most. You’ll read lots of text — well-written but not extraordinary — and you’ll watch a lot of action — which, again, is done as well as possible, but “as possible” doesn’t mean that much in Blades. You’re initial reaction to a lot of specials will be, “Wow! I’ve never seen that in Blades before!” but your lasting impression, or at least mine, was “Actually, it still looked pretty lame.”

 

Thus, I’m faced with a dilemma: this scenario is a 10 — plus when it comes to programming and custom graphics, with no noticeable bugs, few typos, and fine writing. But it just isn’t that fun. The concept just didn’t work for me, with enjoyment often only in the 5 out of 10 range. Thus, I’ll average the two and give it a 7.5. I feel bad about it, but in the end, I enjoy being able to choose what towns I go to next, what battles I fight, who I talk to, what I do.

 

If I want to watch something, I’ll go to the video store. If I want to play something, I’ll open up Blades.

 

Still, let’s hope Alcritas and other designers take the fine use of cinematic specials and incorporate them into new scenarios with many routes of gameplay and choice. Yes, keep your plot structured, but give options as well, and make sure everything you watch or read is complemented with at least one or two things you DO (not necessarily fight, just do — solve a puzzle, choose a path, etc). Cinematic design should accentuate and improve the scenario, making the good great — but cinematic design should not BE the scenario.

 

Score: Average

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...