|
Your continuous donations keep RPGWatch running!
RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature - Eschalon: Book II Review

Default RPGWatch Feature - Eschalon: Book II Review

June 16th, 2010, 16:20
Corwin explores Basilisk's second game in the Eschalon series. The first was an indie hit and expectations for Book II were high - here's a sample of Corwin's view:
One of the key elements for an rpg is exploration and thereís plenty of that here. The game is, in many ways, huge. Iím a completist and my playtime was 69.1 hours according to the game itself. Much of that was spent exploring and of course, fighting my way through hoards of monsters. One key point here; your in game mini-map will only work if you have at least one skill point invested in Cartography. This is sufficient for the early stages but either find/buy an amulet of Cartography, or increase your skill level to three as soon as you can: it really helps make the map more readable. You will discover several towns, forests, grasslands, icy wastes and lava flows in your travels, but several quick travel locations do make this less of a chore once you discover them. The walking speed has been increased from Book I, but many people still complain it is too slow. It didnít bother me, but then Iím a slow player.
Read it all here.
More information.

-= RPGWatch =-
Dhruin is offline

Dhruin

Dhruin's Avatar
SasqWatch
Super Moderator
RPGWatch Team

#1

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 11,967

Default 

June 16th, 2010, 16:20
Nice review, Corwin. I'm in agreement on most of your positive points. The game is challenging and well-structured without being on rails, and the choice of difficulty modes provides a variety of options on how 'old school' you want to be.

The elements I like best in rpgs are combat and character construction. I think the latter is more of a strength in this game than the former, but both are satisfying.

A lot of maps and towns are a bit empty for me, after a strong start. I'm halfway through the game and have only one quest in my journal, the main one. That said, the quests I have encountered have been very well done for the most part, and some are quite complex. Hopefully things will pick up soon. I know Basilisk is planning on some added content, and look forward to it.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
magerette is offline

magerette

magerette's Avatar
Hedgewitch
RPGWatch Team

#2

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 7,929

Default 

June 16th, 2010, 19:53
I'm pretty much in consensus with both of you. The game is fun but the world seems much emptier than Book I. If I had a major gripe with Book II, it would be that it's really not an improvement over Book I. I'm hoping that Tom (Basilisk Wrangler) decides to add content to Book II because it is lacking. Though I hated the amount of respawning in Book I, in Book II the number of creatures is far too low. The game just isn't very challenging because there is so little to fight. This is especially true of ranged combat. There is almost never a danger of being forced into melee for my mage because the creatures are few and far between. Outside of mana regeneration, I'm not sure I see much improvement over his previous title. This is sad because there was quite a large timeframe between games with very little to show for it.

Will Book II do well enough for there to be a Book III? I don't think it will unless there is a significant free expansion but I could be wrong. I know I'd personally buy Book III tomorrow if it was released. Though I found Book II to be a little lacking, it is still a very worthwhile addition to my crpg library. Thanks Tom!

P.S. I always come across more negative than I feel. I'm enjoying myself.

'nut
crpgnut is offline

crpgnut

crpgnut's Avatar
Fantasy Novel Archmage
RPGWatch Donor

#3

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: St. Louis, Mo USA
Posts: 3,718

Default 

June 16th, 2010, 22:24
@Corwin

Excellant review. 10/10!

I may have to pick this, and the first one up. Soooooo many are on the shelf already, though…
Thrasher is offline

Thrasher

Thrasher's Avatar
Wheeee!
RPGWatch Donor

#4

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Studio City, CA
Posts: 9,991

Default 

June 17th, 2010, 01:33
There are some 'quests' which don't appear in your quest log and are easy to miss. For example the Bronze puzzle. It's very worthwhile, but can be missed if you're not observant. I always had heaps to do.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

Editor@RPGWatch
Corwin is offline

Corwin

Corwin's Avatar
On The Razorblade of Life
RPGWatch Team

#5

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,477
Send a message via Skype™ to Corwin

Default 

June 17th, 2010, 09:56
Thanks for the review, Corwin. I'll probably get it once I finish Book I (it's my laptop game, so I play it relatively rarely). A perfect 5, huh? The score seems high to me after reading the text - you talk of the story being "standard fare", and for the mechanics the verdict seems to be "solid" rather than exceptional as well (which I would agree with based on my experience with book I - I find combat uninspired, e.g.). It's too bad that there never was a Watch review of Eschalon I (strange considering the game is championed so much here), the comparison would be interesting.
Personally I would rate Book 1 between 3 and 4 (probably four with the indie bonus). I'd definitely recommend it to old-school fans. But I think there is a lot of potential left to develop these games to something actually great and worthy of 5 stars.
GhanBuriGhan is offline

GhanBuriGhan

GhanBuriGhan's Avatar
Wose extraordinaire

#6

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,482

Default 

June 17th, 2010, 11:26
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
There are some 'quests' which don't appear in your quest log and are easy to miss. For example the Bronze puzzle. It's very worthwhile, but can be missed if you're not observant. I always had heaps to do.
This quest seems also to be unfinishable if some fairly mundane items simply do not get generated on your playthrough.
Elwro is offline

Elwro

Elwro's Avatar
Filthy Codex Spy

#7

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 482

Default 

June 17th, 2010, 11:36
Please remember that 5 stars does not mean a perfect game, but rather a must buy. While getting certain items may take considerable time, it is possible to have all items generated. I waited a VERY long time to obtain the Lockmelt spell and then it appeared in bulk everywhere. All I can say is that I enjoyed this game more than any other I've played in the last 2 years.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

Editor@RPGWatch
Corwin is offline

Corwin

Corwin's Avatar
On The Razorblade of Life
RPGWatch Team

#8

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,477
Send a message via Skype™ to Corwin

Default 

June 17th, 2010, 15:15
I'd consider it a worthy addition, but not a must buy. I was a little disappointed that the game really doesn't add anything new except for challenge games and all of those are silly because of the save mechanic. If you can reload any challenge if you fail it, where's the challenge? The only way the challenges would be really interesting is if there was an autosave on failure option. Otherwise, it's just a matter of patience.

I would have much rather seen more gameplay versus the challenges. To me, the game feels smaller and much easier than Book I. Again, I haven't finished it though.
Mages are much easier this time around though, so a different build might be way more challenging. Hmmm, for those playing along at home, I've got two challenges that I haven't blown. I'm still good on the Mage and Priest challenges. I might end up getting the money related, kill related, and Jack of all trades before it's over.

'nut
crpgnut is offline

crpgnut

crpgnut's Avatar
Fantasy Novel Archmage
RPGWatch Donor

#9

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: St. Louis, Mo USA
Posts: 3,718

Default 

June 18th, 2010, 00:51
Well, for me the difference is that the required patience sorta lies elsewhere. It's not the patience you need to keep reloading your game 100 times until you manage to unlock a certain door with 2% chance of success, because this simply won't work - if you fail once, it means you'll fail after the reload, too. It's the patience you need to develop your character and outfit him so that the mere prospect of attempting this feat actually makes sense. For me, it's a nice rule. I also don't have the temptation to reload after opening chests
Elwro is offline

Elwro

Elwro's Avatar
Filthy Codex Spy

#10

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 482

Default 

June 23rd, 2010, 07:28
good review, I made it just past the first major plot point (the beatle infested town up north) and AP came out. Was starting to feel a little boring by then, are there any big swings in the game play that might draw me back in?
Melvil is offline

Melvil

Melvil's Avatar
Super Duper Super Sweet

#11

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Barva, Costa Rica
Posts: 626

Default 

June 28th, 2010, 15:43
Not really, Melvil. You've seen everything that Eschalon has to offer by the time you finish Broken Blade. The latter half of the game feels very rushed, with nearly empty maps and almost zero quests. If comparing to other indie games, this game rates a 7-8 score. It feels very much like Divine Divinity and Ego Draconis and Lionheart. The first half of the game is great, the last half is a rushed mess. I was surprised at how much of the game can be completed without ever bothering to level up. I took Elemental magic at level one and played all the way to Port Kuudad without leveling my character. Why? You get a higher multiplier for mana and/or hitpoints if you wait to level up for several levels. As long as you go slow, you'll never get in over your head against any of the monsters on the outdoor maps except red wolves. They can kill a level one if more than one or two get within melee. I used an invisibility potion to get into Kuudad and then bought my elemental magic up to level 7. From there I'm able to win all battles, though I finally leveled up to level 6 or 7 for the extra mana. This could last me till nearly endgame, but I'll get bored and level up more eventually.

'nut
Last edited by crpgnut; June 28th, 2010 at 23:35. Reason: In my original reply I named the wrong town, which leaves a wrong impression.
crpgnut is offline

crpgnut

crpgnut's Avatar
Fantasy Novel Archmage
RPGWatch Donor

#12

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: St. Louis, Mo USA
Posts: 3,718

Default 

June 28th, 2010, 18:51
Thanks for the kind review, Corwin!

crpgnut: That's not a fair assessment that "You've seen everything that Eschalon has to offer by the time you finish Port Kuudad." For the average player who will get 35-40 hours out of the game, Port Kuudad is probably less than 10 hours of gameplay in. If someone follows the main storyline, and they take your advice that the game offers nothing after Kuudad, well then they will miss out on several large dungeons, a good number of puzzles and quests, unique regional creatures, and probably two-thirds of the storyline.

Still, that you've given Book II a "7-8" despite some of your criticisms, we will take as a overall nod of approval that we've done something right. We'll keep improving upon things with the add-on content in August, and of course with the games we are working on for when after the Eschalon trilogy comes to a close.
BasiliskWrangler is offline

BasiliskWrangler

BasiliskWrangler's Avatar
Watcher

#13

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 39

Default 

June 28th, 2010, 23:37
Oops, I meant the town where you find Sparrow not Port Kuudad.

Hey Wrangler, I always come across harsher than I mean to, it's a failing of mine. I really enjoyed Eschalon Book II. It's just that skill-wise and such, you're not going to find anything new in the late game. Sure, you'll see some new sprites, but he's asking about big swings in gameplay. Are there any new skills or feats or such that can only be acquired after you've reached the town where you find the bird lady? Nope! Once you've found her, you'll be ready for Picaroon and the endgame. I didn't personally find anything "new" after Broken Blade?,(um the town that got destroyed by big bugs), but what already existed was enough for me to finish the game. I think the game could strongly benefit from some significant filler content, but I'm just one guy. I'd also place about 50 chests, barrels, etc in the wilderness in all those empty dead end areas. Nothing like struggling through 10 minutes of filling out a map to find that it's completely empty for your efforts. Some of those dead ends should have rewards, especially for the spot hidden skilled amonst us. I'd love for spot hidden to show chests and such when pressing the tab key. It'd highlight them similar to how enemies are highlighted. If there was a way for it to become unhidden when you bumped into it while walking, that'd be neat too.

I've said it here and over at your forums (where for some reason I'm tungprc instead of crpgnut), I like the game and it's worth a purchase. It's worth the measly amount you ask for it and everyone should buy a copy. It's not the greatest thing since sliced bread though. I was basically offering a counterpoint to Corwin's observations, which were more positive. I felt he glossed over some glaring weaknesses that the game has in it's current state. I think your first game was better, though I'm on the record as thinking mages were a little short-changed in that game. In this game, we're uber I'm a glass cannon though. I think I finished the game with less than 100 hp. I believe my mana was over 300, though I'm uncertain.

@Melvil and others, I'm replaying the game so I enjoyed it pretty well. I didn't bother to finish Dragon Age or Ego Draconis and yet I'm replaying this indie game. I chronically replay Might and Magic III, VI, VII and Oblivion. I replay Legacy of the Ancients, the Legend of Blacksilver, and Amberstar every so often. Other than that, I'm one and done. This game mostly reminded me of a turn-based Titan Quest with cheaper, yet still sufficient graphics.

I'm long-winded

'nut
crpgnut is offline

crpgnut

crpgnut's Avatar
Fantasy Novel Archmage
RPGWatch Donor

#14

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: St. Louis, Mo USA
Posts: 3,718
RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature - Eschalon: Book II Review
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 16:29.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright by RPGWatch