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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature: Eschalon Impressions

Default RPGWatch Feature: Eschalon Impressions

November 17th, 2007, 13:26
With Basilisk's anticipated indie CRPG Eschalon: Book 1 about to launch on Monday, we've spent the last week playing review code and putting together some first impressions:
The first thing that strikes you is the production values – this is a beautifully crafted game that doesn’t just set a new benchmark for indie CRPGs, it would be perfectly at home on retail shelves if it wasn’t for the fact that 2D games have been long abandoned. From the main menu on, the presentation is stellar, with a crisp and elegant interface that’s both easy to use and attractive, clean graphics and solid sound. It’s clear considerable thought has been put into the interface and controlling the game and there are many AAA projects that don’t do anywhere near as well. The only downside is the disappointing resolution, which is fixed at 800x600 – although you can play in a window.
Read it all here.
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November 17th, 2007, 13:26
Can't wait to play it! It's more of an Ultima gameplay or Arcanum\Fallout?
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November 17th, 2007, 13:32
Good preview/outline Dhruin. I look forward to this game, as soon as I finish with MotB and The Witcher!! Hope Christmas doesn't interfere too much!!

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November 17th, 2007, 13:36
Somewhere between Arcanum and Ultima, I guess, although the comparisons only go so far. It doesn't have the sophistication of Arcanum (which has more skills, dialogue skills, different dialogue/stat effected dialogue and deeper branching) but there are some similarities. Graphically it reminded me of Arcanum (resolution limitation excepted).

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November 17th, 2007, 13:57
Why do they have to make the characters that small, it is the reason I don't like Baldur's gate at all who can care about such a small ugly characters as in BG.. in Ultima it is so much better!
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November 17th, 2007, 13:59
Thanks for answer Dhruin if demo will meet my expactations, I will buy for the first time in my life the indie game! But probably not the last one, when will Age of Decadence and Broken Hourglass be released? Do you guys know any concrete date?
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November 17th, 2007, 14:02
I don't think they know a date at this point, so no.

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November 17th, 2007, 14:02
Hm, sounds good so far, my only concern is the combat. It seems to lack the complexity that can make turnbased combat so great. No party and no action points - I'm not sure how the combat can be interesting. I'm so tired of clicking monsters to death even if there is no pressure of time. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the demo.

Originally Posted by magerette
I'm so tired of marketing hype, marketing slang, marketing priorities and general marketing BS that it tends to have the opposite effect on me. (Jaded is the word I'm looking for here.) I can't even read through a whole press release from any AAA title company without wanting to turn off my computer and learn to cross-stitch.
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November 17th, 2007, 14:12
Great article, Dhruin.

Game looks good.

Question:
the stats rolling on the character creation works like D&D, a la Baldur's Gate? I thought that was an extraordinarily stupid system myself, as you can just keep rerolling for near-optimum results and make the game stupid easy.
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November 17th, 2007, 14:31
A word about combat: while there are no “action points” used, the game is actually very strategic- as much as any other turn-based game. We factor in line-of-sight, range and visibility of targets, as well as the number of creatures encircling you when engaging a group and attack direction. Spells and ranged weapons have many advantages and disadvantages which must be considered. Dozens of buffs and bonuses are checked each round against an equal number of penalties to determine accuracy and damage on each target. Your environment can play a critical role in your success, so doorways and room corners should be used to protect your backside.

To put it bluntly: people who find the game difficult are those who assume you can just pick up a sword and take on an enemy via click-click-click. But, as always, please check out the demo and see for yourself.

Thanks to everyone here for the support, and Dhruin for a great article!
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November 17th, 2007, 15:13
Originally Posted by BasiliskWrangler View Post
A word about combat: while there are no “action points” used, the game is actually very strategic- as much as any other turn-based game. We factor in line-of-sight, range and visibility of targets, as well as the number of creatures encircling you when engaging a group and attack direction. Spells and ranged weapons have many advantages and disadvantages which must be considered. Dozens of buffs and bonuses are checked each round against an equal number of penalties to determine accuracy and damage on each target. Your environment can play a critical role in your success, so doorways and room corners should be used to protect your backside.
No offence meant, but that doesn't sound "very" strategic, that sounds like the bare minimum of RPG turn-based combat, about the same level Fallout had 10 years ago, but without action points.

The complexity Amasius refers to is probably quite a tier above that, referring to group management, terrain interactivity ("dodge", "hide", "crouch"), action point management (save up for AC? (a good function Fallout never properly exploited), what do you do with your last two APs?)

I mean, hell, in Diablo it's also a good idea not to get surrounded, and buffs and strengths also factor in on Diablo. Not exactly a sign of great complexity.
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November 17th, 2007, 15:29
Originally Posted by BasiliskWrangler View Post
A word about combat: while there are no “action points” used, the game is actually very strategic- as much as any other turn-based game.
Well, like BN said not every turnbased game is very strategic. At least many RPGs aren't. There isn't a RPGs that can beat the combat of good old Jagged Alliance 2. (Which had also some great RPG aspects, even some quests with multiple solutions) But good RPGs can countervail that otherwise and Eschalon looks very promising so far.

Originally Posted by BasiliskWrangler
But, as always, please check out the demo and see for yourself.
I certainly will.

Originally Posted by magerette
I'm so tired of marketing hype, marketing slang, marketing priorities and general marketing BS that it tends to have the opposite effect on me. (Jaded is the word I'm looking for here.) I can't even read through a whole press release from any AAA title company without wanting to turn off my computer and learn to cross-stitch.
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November 17th, 2007, 15:34
From the Basilisk forums regarding the fixed resolution:

My statement about being "essentially impossible for us to offer other resolutions" is not entirely accurate. It is actually quite possible to set the graphics mode for any resolution we want; but the other parts are true too, in that running the game at a higher resolution would would make the game run too slow for people with older computers or too small for people with tiny LCDs. But, yes, the game could easily scale up to higher resolutions with just a bit of re-engineering of the GUI.

So, 800x600 is the best fixed-res mode that we could find offering a nice mix of speed and quality for everybody without needing to engineer free resolution switching. We're a bit too late in the development cycle to offer resolution options for this game, but we will certainly offer that in our next.


I'll check out the interpolation quality of the demo but I'm not expecting much. This is pretty much a show stopper for me. Blurry graphics are a huge turnoff for me

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November 17th, 2007, 15:36
Great article, and you have my many thanks for it, Dhruin. And for the screenshots.

Anyway, I have a question to BasiliskWrangler, if he passes by again and reads this - IS it me, or are you using a game engine similar to that of Spiderweb's Geneforge games? While Eschalon's art is clearly distinctive to that of Geneforge (and you've done a great job with the whole game, at least visually as far as I can judge from the screenies) it looks awfully similar.
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November 17th, 2007, 16:07
Originally Posted by Arma View Post
Anyway, I have a question to BasiliskWrangler, if he passes by again and reads this - IS it me, or are you using a game engine similar to that of Spiderweb's Geneforge games? While Eschalon's art is clearly distinctive to that of Geneforge (and you've done a great job with the whole game, at least visually as far as I can judge from the screenies) it looks awfully similar.
It's not the same engine as Spiderweb's. The engine for Eschalon was made by Basilisk, it's an in-house design.

There are similiarities, but from what I've played from both companies (demos only), Eschalon plays and looks different from the Spiderweb stuff.

As far as the combat issue goes, no, Eschalon is not a combat sim. As Dhruin points out in the article, you get more experience from quest rewards than combat, so the game is geared more towards exploration, questing and adventuring more than fighting. Combat is not that complex, nor is it simple point-and-click and that's all there is to it. For a combat-centric player they may be disappointed here, but for the player that likes to find alternative means to an end, to be able to adventure without constant battles, Eschalon comes through.
You really can use the environment to your advantage, or at the very least actually run away from a fight. From my time spent with the demo, I found it ultimately more rewarding and engaging than something like Fallout's combat (Fallout had great combat if you *like* combat, but if you don't it was a major irritation). It doesn't use AP's, but there are many tactics available to you.

You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.
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November 17th, 2007, 16:37
Excellent preview, Dhruin. I'd be curious how Eschalon compares specifically to the M&M series. In all of the previews I've read, M&M gets mentioned in the opening paragraph and then never again. How much of a signpost is it?

Pretty sure I'll violate one of my rules and snatch this game up without bothering with the demo.

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November 17th, 2007, 17:20
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Pretty sure I'll violate one of my rules and snatch this game up without bothering with the demo.
You can download the demo and play it as far as you can, and then buy the game and once it's installed just pick up from where you left off in the demo. If anything, you can play the demo while the main game you just purchased is downloading (or in the mail if that's your preferred method).

You know the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.
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November 17th, 2007, 17:51
Sounds like a game for me - old school crpg for an old school player.

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November 17th, 2007, 18:12
This has got to be the best season for computer games in a long time. First NWN2:MOTB, then Witcher, Fantasy Wars looks really nice and now Eschalon. Eschalon looks like a great game. I'm one happy camper this year

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November 17th, 2007, 18:34
Looking at the screenshots it looks 3d with a fixed, isometric camera like Arcanum not 2d isometric like BG or Ultima Online. You mentioned both 2d and Arcanum in this article Dhruin so I'm confused. Comparing the graphics to Arcanum may not be a compliment as there were so many criticisms about it (although I liked it in their game. Troika's choice for a demo was a mistake IMO).

I'm disappointed on the limited choice of a male profile but indy development can be like that. UFO:ET was like that in there was only voiceset, a man dying, even when there were female characters.

It sounds like you play a single character and not a party. Are there any Fallout like companions you can pick up instead then?

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Last edited by Lucky Day; November 17th, 2007 at 18:41.
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