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September 29th, 2016, 17:40
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
I'd be interested in reading your thoughts on the game fnord, having never played the original PoR. Those random encounters sound appalling but it'd be nice to know if it improves much through the game having a mechanic like that.

I've got a bit further into it, but lost interest.

The game is very faithful to its source material, which is both a good and a bad thing. It's good in that if you're familiar with AD&D you can easily get into it, and it also means that you get something that's designed to be understood (unlike some other CRPGs that hide a lot of things under the hood). On the downside, AD&D has a lot of quirks that I'm not so fond of. The game balance is quite poor, races have class level limitations (except for humans, who can do anything), meaning that if you plan to export your party, certain race/class combinations is a strict no-go. Female characters are objectively worse as they get -1 str, so go with an all-male party. Actually, go with an all-male all-human party to be on the safe side.

The combat is actually quite good. You get a large are to move your characters on, and there's plenty of room for tactics. Positioning and good use of spells is important for your survival. Against a group of enemies that's stronger than you, but not overwhelmingly stronger, it's really fun. The fact that you don't need to worry about long animations (a big pet-peve for me in many more modern turnbased CRPGs) is also a big plus, as it keeps the combat moving.

On the downside, the game really loves throwing huge groups of enemies your way, with little regard for game balance. There's also a lot of combat, which can start to get repetitive after a little while. There's a way to automate combat, but if you do, then it will still be set to automated combat the next time you run into an enemy, which means that you run the risk of having your characters do something really stupid at the start of combat against a more powerful enemy.

The interface is surprisingly easy to work with. It could be better, but learning the keyboard commands, and menu navigation was not a problem. Sadly it's also a bit slow, and this is in particular an issue when it comes to memorizing spells, which needs to be manually re-memorized each time you rest. You also need to manually cast healing spells before resting (this was apparently fixed in later games). If you want to reload, you need to restart the game, and you can't name save files. Not massive issues if you're running the game in dosbox, but still issues (it would have been worse on real hardware).

Pool of Radiance did lay a good foundation, but I feel that the game has been surpassed. And from my short attempt at Champions of Krynn, it feels like they quickly learnt from at least some of their mistakes. I've not got far enough into Champions of Krynn to be able to tell you how good the game really is, but in terms of quality of life things, it's the better of the two.
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