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I have rated this scenario higher before. However, I cheated extremely that time. After reconsideration, I have decided to take a little more off the score because of the difficulty. I wouldn't have got past the first 2 battles without cheating.


Areni feels fresh (like Roots), the custom graphics use is great, the alchemy system is great. The plot is also good enough for my standards.


Making the premade "party" takes some time and patience. It was not too much trouble the first time. However, it gets frustrating very quickly since it seems to be a fashion and almost no premade party works on my mac.

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It's original, yes, but that originality feels forced, and the lack of towns detracts from the scenario. There are times when you think, "With towns, this would have been done better, easier, and more completely." The tactical side is fun, but again could have been improved by the use of towns.



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Biggest thing that comes to mind is that this scenario is mega hard. Trying to fight with very limited supplies left me restarting over and over again. It just was not fun. If I had picked it to play just for the heck of it I would have quit very soon, not because the story was uninteresting, but the combat blocked my passage time after time. Even after maximizing my health I could not continue with what I was given. There were not enough reagents for offensive potions in the beginning, and to get to the reagents that were available, I had to use up the few offensive potions I started with. Needless to say, only through constant tweaking with the editor was I able to finish the scenario. The ending left me wanting as well.


For all it's bad points, it does have much good to offer. I loved the new reagents and new potions(even though I couldn't get enough reagents fast enough). Being able to fight with only potions is not alltogether a bad one. It got funner after I was actually able to make some of the offensive spells. The technology for the final sequence was eye opening, too. I didn't know one was able to make movies within an outdoor combat.


In conclusion it's not a terrible scenario, in fact it's rather well made. I don't remember a single bug, spelling error, or grammar mistake. There just seems to be more for the designer to appreciate than for the average player to enjoy.


That said: technically brilliant, bug free, great use of custom graphics, not necessarily original story(go rescue somebody) but original implementation.



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Areni just rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn't stand the potions system, always running out and not being able to get more. I don't know what it was, but this just bothered me.


Also I really didn't think there was much plot. Granted, it was a short scenario, but I would've like more depth in some way. It just bothered me.


Eh, I can't really specify what it was. I just probably never would've finished this scenario if I didn't have to.


Still, I recognize that it was original, so I give it Good: clearly an accomplishment and clearly good for someone else, just not me.

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Nebulous Times Hence's counterpart


Oh, it's true. Whereas NTH places emphasis on both plot and gameplay, Areni is mostly about gameplay. There were encounters that revived the narrative now and then, but most of the time it felt it just felt like random wandering through some islands.


You play as an old alchemist whose apprentice is in danger and you've got to rescue him. Of course, since you're an alchemist, you'll have trouble defending yourself from your enemies.

And that's what this scenario is really about : Tactical outdoor challenges, and carefully spending your ingredients to make potions that will get you out of trouble. You have virtually no combat skills, you can't cast spells in a normal way, you must rely entirely on potions to defend yourself. And yet, 'normal' alchemy is nonexistent in this scenario - all of the ingredients are new, and your recipes are special items. Some of them act like scrolls and allow you to cast offensive spells, others are used for healing/curing...

Randomness plays an extremely important part in this scenario and greatly affects the outcome of each battle. You will probably need to reload a lot, since you must save as many ingredients as you can. You will also need to flee from many wandering encounters.

I found the challenge to be fun, but I do have a few complaints about the scenario.


1)Wandering through swamps is just painful. You can't really afford to make many cure poison potions due to the rare ingredients, so you've got to press pause repeatedly to heal/cure yourself each time you walk on a swamp space. That's boring.

2)Once you know which potions are most useful to defeat *insert random monster here*, the battles get somewhat repetitive after a while (EDIT : Areni felt much less repetitive during my second playthrough. I guess the battles felt repetitive at first around because I kept reloading on my first playthough). Also, Areni suffers from the 'useless special items' syndrome more than NTH. Some potions are nearly useless : Sleep Cloud kind of sucks due to your horrible melee skills (but can help a friendly, summoned Slime Eye to get rid of your enemies, I'll admit that), Cure Poison potions are nearly useless unless you get hit by a wasp and even then you're probably better off reloading, and Steel Salve is just plain useless, IMHO. Invulnerability is nice but wears off too quickly and you've got to do damage rather than take damage, so your ingredients are probably better spent elsewhere. Simply put, you can't afford to take damage, you've got to avoid it. Haste potions are very useful for this, especially at the end of the game. Combat in Areni is about skill and speed, not endurance. Charm dust isn't very useful either, and by the time you get the Bottled Slime recipe, it won't be very useful. It can help loads if you're low on Wasp Stings and feel like fighting a few Hunter Wasps, but apart from this, it's not very useful.

Note that I do not think any of these potions (except perhaps for Steel Salve) should be removed, I just think they could perhaps have been made more useful.

2)The secret Beholder fight ruled. I enjoyed it a lot. However, the rewards you get are pretty bad. Sure, you get a Large Eye, but are a few friendly Opticons really worth the trouble? I think you should actually make it worthwhile to fight the Beholder. As it is, it's probably best to avoid the fight and save your ingredients for a later time.

3)The final fight is... insane, to say the least. Simply put, either you've got enough ingredients, and you may win, or you don't, and you're screwed. I had to use something like eight Brews of Tremors, four or five Alchemy bombs, and one or two Hyper elixirs as well. I think I still had one Alchemy bomb left after the fight, but phew. It's not even really hard, it's just a matter of having enough ingredients.

4)Downbeat ending. On the other hand, it may have been unavoidable - everyone in the scenario is "evil", to a degree.

5)I'd have appreciated it if you had mentioned in the readme that the player can find 'new' recipes, even without naming them, as well as a 'new' ingredient. I sure didn't notice the Leech Slime at first.


(By the way, did I mention that some monsters drop items that you can use to summon allies? That was a neat idea.)


Overall : A good scenario, but I still like NTH better. On the other hand, NTH is rather easy. Areni is hard, so if you want a challenge, you may like it more than NTH.


EDIT : I forgot to mention that the outdoor combat cutscene at the end of the game was very impressive. Also, it would appear that some items I mentioned aren't as useless as I thought they were. Charm Dust, for example, can be very helpful against Hunter Wasps and Sleep Powder is very useful against Giant Leeches. I even found a use for Steel Salve while fighting a Mawbeast as well as a use for Anti-Venom in the swamps near the end of the game (I had lots of ingredients left and could afford to make a potion to cure myself, rather than hitting pause repeatedly, which can make quite a few wandering encounters appear).


Also, Opticons can shield you a bit from the Barbarians in the final battle, so it may be worthwhile to fight the Beholder after all.


So the gameplay is better balanced than I thought, but I had to replay Areni a few times to notice it (reminding me of NTH in that respect). This means that I'm raising the score a bit.




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I liked Areni but it is very easy to get stuck if you use your flight potions incorrectly, which I thought detracted from the experience because you can't really explore as much. On the other hand, unlimited flight would take away some of the challenge of this scenario, so I guess it all balances out. The fights were very challenging, recommended for the experienced BoE player.



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