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Default Eschalon: Book 1 - Great Downloads @ PC World

February 19th, 2008, 23:03
PC World's Matt Peckham (yes, him) has kicked up a short article on award-winning indies worth trying out. Eschalon gets the selection for the RPG crowd and here's a snip from the short overview:
Remember Ultima? Tile-built worlds? Isometric view angles? Turn-based combat? Having the option to abandon your computer at will without hitting pause to prevent holy pandemonium from breaking loose?
Miss that? If so, you'll want to give Eschalon: Book One a try. It's a role-playing game (RPG) done up old-style, but rendered in clean, high-res lines and inviting hues that make it visually superior to most of its bygone predecessors. Like stats? It's got 'em. Loot? Scattered everywhere. Pick a class, a name, your attributes, and you're off to wrestle with oodles of enemies, plot twists, and your own missing memories.
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February 19th, 2008, 23:03
I guess he kindly omitted his own opinion on how he DOESN'T miss that and can't understand why anybody WOULD…
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February 20th, 2008, 10:57
This guy had the excellent taste to bash NWN2, his reasons was just a bit off looks like he is still up and kicking.
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February 20th, 2008, 13:53
I took this opportunity to download the demo and I'll have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the looks and feel of the game. Maybe the prejudices I had towards old-school indie games were undeserved. I thought I would get something akin to a half-baked Ultima clone, but this feels quite polished.
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February 20th, 2008, 21:38
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
, but this feels quite polished.
Indeed it is, my friend. Not that polish is a big deal, but Eschalon has it in spades for an indie which, imo, adds immensely to the immersion factor. Not to bash Spiderweb, but when I played the demo for Av 4, I had to consciously look past the clunkiness of the UI and presentation to try and enjoy the game whereas with Eschalon, those two factors are a pleasure.

You'll be doing yourself a favor to give this gem a spin.
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February 20th, 2008, 23:03
Yeah, I'm gonna have to give this demo a go on my lunch breaks. I find polish a big deal, though. Playing a game shouldn't be painful, although I do admit I can get past a lot of pain if there are big gains. Like playing old Windows 95 games on a modern PC. Very painful.
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February 21st, 2008, 20:19
But perhaps someone can explain this to me. Why isn't Eschalon a point-and-click game? Even though Basilisk's effort was to create a retro RPG experience, it seems as a poor design decision from a late 2007 perspective (Unless of course there was a technical explanation, but then again that isn't a good explanation from a late 2007 perspective either).
I doubt I will play the game (I tried the demo for 10 min) because of that and the fact that you have to stand completely next to something interactive (i.e. a door, chest etc.) in order to use it, even though it is possible to click on it from a far.
Unnecessarily bothersome and time consuming. Perhaps I will miss a great experience, but there are too many great narrative works across multiple medias for me to spend time on something technically obsolete.

EDIT: Or is the game supposed to invoke nostalgia? That would be an understandable explanation.

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Last edited by Asbjoern; February 21st, 2008 at 20:50.
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February 21st, 2008, 21:35
I actually liked this decision, so I can't agree there. You are right that you have to manually stand in the right position but I found being able to "steer" your character around rather than click, click, click, click made it less tiresome and repetitive.

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February 21st, 2008, 22:10
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
being able to "steer" your character around rather than click, click, click, click made it less tiresome and repetitive.
Especially when you make good use of the "auto-walk" hotkey, 'W', I think. I'd much rather that movement system then point and click or point, click and hold. Much easier.

But, yes, it will hopefully be an enhancement in Book 2 that when you click on an interactive object that's not next to you, your character will walk over to and use it.

@Asbjoern: it seems rather silly to me to abandon the whole game for those two reasons. While I can understand abandonning a game that's so poor in it's UI that you can't enjoy it, let me assure you Eschalon is not one of those games. If your annoyance tolerance is that low, I can't think of a single game I've played that you wouldn't have given up on in 10mins as well.
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February 21st, 2008, 22:18
I guess you're talking about the lack of pathfinding in the game. I was a little surprised by it at first because I was so used to it. I didn't, however, find it bothersome. So you have to physically walk to objects. I don't know, does this get tiresome after hours of play? I haven't played the demo for that long, but I don't necessarily need my games to require as few clicks as possible like I would in my applications.
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February 21st, 2008, 22:36
I would just like to add that the graphics, interface etc. are very enjoyable and I can imagine it having an immersive setting and quests/story which is what makes a game great for me.

But, Dhruin, isn't it more tiresome to constantly hold down a mouse button instead of only having to click and then being able to relax if just for a second. But yes, I can understand your position too. I just like being able to switch between clicking at some points when in smaller areas and hold down a mouse button when crossing larger areas. Eschalon doesn't even give that possibility which a point-and-click system would.

Chamr, I didn't know about the W-key. I might try the demo in the weekend again, but I must admit that the fact you have to stand next to interactive objects is sufficient for me to not want to play the game. Shame on me.
There are several reasons to why I don't have that much tolerance, because in general I'm not a person who when finding even the slightest flaw don't want to play the game. I am a nuanced person. These two flaws aren't minor though, they are elementary parts of the game and therefore also source for an corresponding amount of frustration.
But I guess it is just the combination of it being an indie game that I've only peripherally followed and that there are dozens of more interesting video games that I've not yet played. Eschalon is by no means a poor game. Though outdated in my opinion.

But to give positive criticism, then the great thing about Eschalon is that it doesn't feel like an indie production. It is an impressive game.

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February 21st, 2008, 22:44
Well, I used the "W" key extensively, so maybe that will make a difference for you. At the end of the day, I'm confident I clicked less with Eschalon than, say, NWN2 and my mouse hand was less worn out after a gaming session.

Don't forget movement is tied to the game "tick" - every grid square you move is one tick/time unit in the gameworld, so I also appreciated having direct control.

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February 21st, 2008, 23:34
I started clicking around, but quickly migrated to the "W" key. I did find Asbjoern's complaint to be valid, but it was a minor irritation for me rather than a deal breaker like it is for him.

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February 22nd, 2008, 15:22
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
I started clicking around, but quickly migrated to the "W" key. I did find Asbjoern's complaint to be valid, but it was a minor irritation for me rather than a deal breaker like it is for him.
I think perhaps the main problem is that I am young, relatively. I have never played any of the old school games where these two flaws (from my perspective) were present, so my standards/expectations towards games and willingness to endure such flaws are respectively higher and lower.

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Last edited by Asbjoern; February 22nd, 2008 at 21:53.
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February 22nd, 2008, 15:39
No Ed Sullivan for you tonight, whippersnapper! And stay off my lawn!

Escalon isn't for everyone. No harm done.

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February 22nd, 2008, 16:35
Originally Posted by Asbjoern View Post
But, Dhruin, isn't it more tiresome to constantly hold down a mouse button instead of only having to click and then being able to relax if just for a second. But yes, I can understand your position too. I just like being able to switch between clicking at some points when in smaller areas and hold down a mouse button when crossing larger areas. Eschalon doesn't even give that possibility which a point-and-click system would.
ITs the same control scheme as in diablo clones and divine divinity. I dont like diablo but I got used to it in this game. Atleast the game is turn-based so you can stop pressing it anytime you want it combat. You can stop anytime to think about your options.

There isnt really that much of constant movement in the game atleast as much as in diablo clones. In this game there are multiple insta-teleports between the places including magic and you never move constantly in combat (atleast I didnt - unless I was trying to escape!).
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February 22nd, 2008, 21:43
No, it isn't the same. Both those games have pathfinding, so you can simply click on an a location or object and the avatar will automatically walk to that location. In Eschalon, you character only walks while you hold the button or press the W key. To walk up to a door, for example, you can't just click on it once from the other side of the screen.

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