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February 20th, 2017, 12:19
Forgottenlor has played a few games for which he did not want to write a review, at least not for all of them. So in a poll we did last month, our visitors decided that most of them would be looking forward to a review of Balrum.

The story of Balrum isn't bad. It's a sort of classic fantasy story where the character's mysterious origins are revealed, where an ancient evil awakens, and where in the end only the character can make things right. The writing also isn't too bad. Most of the background story is revealed in text discussions with npcs or in the various notes you find throughout the world. Unfortunately there is nothing particularly interesting going on here either. The characters you meet in Balrum are for the most part as flat as cardboard. Since you can't interact with them much, and the few side quest are pretty uninteresting, that's not really so important. Indeed the story's main goal appears to be to sending you from one corner of a map to another, so you can explore first the Dark Forest and then the world of Balrum as a whole. Though you spend hours wandering around, you really only interact with the story and its characters for a small portion of the game. Players who are looking for a story oriented game or clever or interesting quests probably should avoid Balrum. That's simply not the kind of the game it is.
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February 20th, 2017, 12:19
Thanks Forgottenlor.
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February 20th, 2017, 12:41
Awsome review.
"slow paced" instakills the game for me.
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February 20th, 2017, 16:42
Myeah, I really dig meaningful exploration but I don't think this game is for me.

Thanks for the detailed review, Forgottenlor.
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February 20th, 2017, 16:58
Good review. I do not mind slow pacing but when you only have one character the game can get boring unless everything else is done right. Think I will be passing on Balrum also.
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February 20th, 2017, 18:56
Thank you Forgottenlor. Although it seems game is not very fancy. Well, maybe some day in the future i will try it.
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February 20th, 2017, 19:29
Thanks for the review. At first glance, it looks like another Eschalon game, which isn't a bad thing from my perspective.
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February 20th, 2017, 19:53
Thank you Forgottenlor!
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February 20th, 2017, 19:53
I played 139 hours of Balrum, so I think I liked it.
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February 20th, 2017, 20:28
A great review, Forgottenlor! Thank you
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Last edited by henriquejr; February 21st, 2017 at 15:06.
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February 20th, 2017, 20:40
Sounds like my kind of game. Thanks for the review, forgottenlor!
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February 20th, 2017, 21:41
Thanks for all the comments everyone!

Originally Posted by Xian View Post
Thanks for the review. At first glance, it looks like another Eschalon game, which isn't a bad thing from my perspective.
I really liked Eschalon, and played not one but all 3 games from beginning to end. IMO, Eschalon is more of a complete CRPG and less of a sandbox game than Balrum. There are more and better quests, npcs, and story. Also the combat is faster and more rewarding. Balrum has more puzzles, unusual areas, crafting, and things to find, though.
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February 20th, 2017, 21:48
Thanks for the review. It confirms that this one probably isn't for me.
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February 20th, 2017, 21:59
I really liked Eschalon. I only played the first game, but I quite like the variety of skills you can learn. Like for example cartography, It was well implemented in Eschalon.
Doesn't seem like Balrum has that from what I've read. It's more crafting oriented which is good, I guess. It's just not for me. I'd like my hero to be a hero, not a blacksmith. In Witcher, it was done right. It made sense in the lore for witchers to do alchemy. It wouldn't make sense if Geralt had his right biceps significantly larger than the left from all the smithing.
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February 20th, 2017, 22:17
A hero being a hero can be done in different ways, though. It can make sense if the hero is learning the skill slowly, and thus has to do anything to survive and manage in a harsh world. Games like Gothic and Risen do an excellent job of crafting skill progression, IMO, where it feels as though you are learning the skill and it is worthwhile to pursue it. You have to survive in this dangerous world, after all, and you start as a nobody pretty much. That is not even mentioning the more meaningful impact the crafting has, as the items you can generally craft are powerful as great loot is rarer in those games.

I could go on but I think an RPG that has crafting like this can be cool. I've been meaning to get around to this one but just haven't yet.
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February 21st, 2017, 04:12
Great read thanks for the review.
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February 21st, 2017, 04:56
Thanks Forgottenlor. The game at least superficially reminded me of a more sand-box inspired Eschalon (which I completed all of as well) Maybe a touch of Divine Divinity too in the simulation aspects. Your review pretty much confirmed most of my thoughts. A couple of minor additional questions for discussion points:

1) How are the dungeons compared to say Antharion (where there was a lot of repetition without too many stand out unique features) and even Eschalon? (which were often more grindingly maze like in nature?)
2) How does the game create additional details to further immerse the player? (narrative/atmospheric text etc.)
3) Anything else you can say about the soundtrack compared to its closest brethren? Eschalon's is quite lovely for instance; the title tune is especially stirring and memorable.

Cheers, thanks again!
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Last edited by Pessimeister; February 26th, 2017 at 13:17.
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February 21st, 2017, 15:34
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
Thanks Forgottenlor. The game at least superficially reminded me of a more sand-box inspired Eschalon (which I completed all of as well) Maybe a touch of Divine Divinity too in the simulation aspects. Your review pretty confirmed most of my thoughts. A couple of minor additional questions for discussion points:

1) How are the dungeons compared to say Antharion (where there was a lot of repetition without too many stand out unique features) and even Eschalon? (which were often more grindingly maze like in nature?)
2) How does the game create additional details to further immerse the player? (narrative/atmospheric text etc.)
3) Anything else you can say about the soundtrack compared to its closest brethren? Eschalon's is quite lovely for instance; the title tune is especially stirring and memorable.

Cheers, thanks again!
1. You spend a lot more time in the outside world in Balrum than Antharion. The dungeons in Balrum tend to have less monsters in them, and many of them are avoidable. There is a lot more to do in the dungeons. Some have puzzles. There is also more loot. In general I think the dungeons are better designed in Balrum. I find the combat in Antharion more enjoyable, however.

2. There are notes and npcs in settlements. The npcs do deliver a bit of lore about the world. That seems to be their main purpose since they don't offer much in terms of personality or quests. There is a decent amount of lore in Balrum, probably comparable to Eschalon. However, most of the lore in Balrum is also optional and delivered in a rather unspectacular manner.

3. I'll admit that I'm not a musician and I tend to only notice soundtracks when they particularly impress me (Like Tyranny's title screen theme) or I find them annoying (the entire soundtrack of Paper Sorcerer) Balrum's music didn't fall into either of those categories for me.
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February 21st, 2017, 16:30
Outstanding review, Forgottenlor ! Truly outstanding. You nailed it !
This is exactly what I experienced with Balrum. I found the crafting and survival aspects to be very refreshing, but the questing and content to be on the thin side
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February 21st, 2017, 16:46
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
A hero being a hero can be done in different ways, though. It can make sense if the hero is learning the skill slowly, and thus has to do anything to survive and manage in a harsh world. Games like Gothic and Risen do an excellent job of crafting skill progression, IMO, where it feels as though you are learning the skill and it is worthwhile to pursue it. You have to survive in this dangerous world, after all, and you start as a nobody pretty much. That is not even mentioning the more meaningful impact the crafting has, as the items you can generally craft are powerful as great loot is rarer in those games.

I could go on but I think an RPG that has crafting like this can be cool. I've been meaning to get around to this one but just haven't yet.
Ah yes, Gothic. I forgot that one. Crafting felt right there for me too, but only as a way to make money. My problem with crafting in RPGs is that I just shake the fact that IRL smithing/armor making/farming are all full-time jobs. There's no way I'm able to convince myself that my hero who kills dragons for morning exercise has time to master leatherworking and create +50 sneaking boots. On the other hand, Geralt is a smart guy educated in alchemy and it's not hard for me to accept he can recognize few herbs in the wild, pick them, and mix them with some alcohol while he is relaxing after the battle.
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