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Masks


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TERROR'S MARTYR

 

Oh, great. Another one of Brett's BORING scenarios...

 

[/joke]

 

Masks? Interesting question... How to review it? The plot is fairly interesting. Well, the premise of it is, and everything apart from your childhood friend is a fairly decent plot to use. I just felt that what's-her-name person was rather pointlessly added into the scenario. Graphical work should be noted especially here, for replacing the default grass graphic with more suitable graphics. This scenario was, most definitely, well-done graphically. Gameplay... I don't think I approved of needing to know about that little girl's life to have to convince her to join me in beating the crap out of the final boss. The "boss" itself was an interesting fellow, with his phases, and all. It was a fairly decent bonus to not have the scenario end here as well, but the pirate quest was distinctly dissatisfying. The busy-work for the Urlak-Nai wasn't all that much better. Do I reccomend this scenario for you? Yeah, why not. But if the scenario fails to interest you after, oh... Thirty minutes of gameplay, then I don't think this one is for you. Good

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ALCRITAS

 

Masks is the latest effort of renowned designer Brett Bixler, and was the winner of the Third Scenario Design Contest. Spoilers abound in the following review, so read at your own peril.

 

The scenario begins inauspiciously enough, with your party waking from a long, drug-induced stupor, shipwrecked on an island with no immediate avenue for escape.

 

Fortunately enough, however, your party has been cared for by some very bizarre locals, who dance around, all the while chanting about the “essence” or something similar. Very few of them will tell you anything in addition, but as you journey around the island, you’ll find more of them, similar in every aspect but appearance. After completing a few rituals, they’ll decide to let you journey northward.

 

It’s at this point the scenario actually begins, or at least, the interesting portion of the scenario begins. For, as will be revealed to you, you were not the sole survivors of the ship wreck. In fact, another, a long-time companion from your youth, survived the catastrophe, and has struck out ahead of you.

 

Over the course of the scenario, you’ll periodically find traces of your old companion, and, in doing so, images of nostalgia will be called up, providing detail and history. Initially, I found this element overwhelmingly positive — it gave the scenario a very rich and detailed atmosphere missing in all but the best of its brethren. However, as the scenario wore on the charm wore off, for a couple of reasons:

 

First, the frequency was far too removed. If these flashbacks/memories had occurred at every turn, it would have no doubt been burdensome, overworked, and clumsy. But I counted a grand total of three companion memories (perhaps others lurked in the few areas I was unable to fully explore, if so, I temper this criticism accordingly) — which, for a scenario that took me quite a few days to complete, seemed far too few.

 

Second, and more regrettably, the memories turned out to be more than atmosphere — they turned out to be pseudo plot coupons. Once cashed in, I felt the atmosphere immediately dissipate. Rather than provide an interesting background to the scenario, it felt more like an artificial justification to make me explore the Hydra lair, quite an unfortunate consequence.

 

The gameplay of the scenario is quite excellent, as one would expect from such an accomplished designer. One town, the ancient ruined city, is of particular note, with a sequence rivaling most any scenario for excitement and tension. Unfortunately, this particular sequence, like this history before, is downgraded ex-post-facto, due to the rather paltry reward for completing it.

 

Aesthetically the scenario is quite superb. Brett has managed to transform the entire base graphic set, providing the player with a wonderful and exotic world to explore. (More on this below.) About my only complaint is that the default terrain is a bit darker than I would have preferred, but this hardly rises even to the level of a quibble.

 

The scenario ends on quite an unusual twist — the ‘final boss fight’ does not, unlike so many other scenario, end the adventure! Instead, killing the primary foe only advances the party’s goal, other significant hurdles still remain. This is, in the end, a mixed blessing. It was quite a nice change of pace to not finish the scenario upon striking down (yet another) evil magician (bent on ruling the world), yet at the same time the subsequent portions of the scenario, while in themselves enjoyable, could not rise to the level of the final encounter — which, not incidentally, was accomplished masterfully.

 

Ultimately, Masks is a very fun adventure that will likely leave you feeling a bit empty and manipulated once completed. It’s superb the first time through, but will be a bit of a let-down on subsequent playings.

 

Masks is rated PG, and is designed for beginner level parties.

 

My Score: Good

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DRIZZT

 

I liked this one, perhaps not as much as Baba Yaga though. The atmosphere is good, and the story was mostly interesting. There are lots of side areas to explore and some of the node sequences are very well done (running around with the goo is one that comes to mind). The puzzles are well integrated into the story. Recommended. Good

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I really enjoyed this scenario. It had an interesting plot, very good atmosphere, some good node sequences, things to discover, good custom graphics, and was very fun to play. The special spells and the strangeness of the land were a nice touch as well. This is also a good scenario for a beginning party to build their strength.

 

One of my favorites.

 

Best

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An innovative scenario, with plenty of atmosphere and history...the customs graphics were very impressive, though the pop culture references got a bit painful at times.

 

After a while, though, alot of the uniqueness wore off, and the scenario involved lots of wandering round looking for something else to kill. Something with a novel theme and using different graphics, but even so...perhaps a smaller island would have been better.

 

GOOD.

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