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I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!


Amount Played for Review:
 ~2 hours
Platform: PC (Steam)

Warframe Title

So hey, did you play Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer, and wish it had more Free-to-Play hooks around it? Then Warframe is probably the game you’ve been looking for.

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I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~6 hours
Platform: PC (Origin)

 

If you still have any attachment for the characters of Mass Effect, you need to get Citadel. While it’s meant to be in about the midpoint of the story of Mass Effect 3, it is far more of what it is outside of the game: a fond farewell to the things you love about Mass Effect.

Citadel is split into 2 main stories, and also includes a number of permanent side content to the game, such as an arena and a combat simulator not unlike Pinnacle Station from the original game. The first story is a small adventure about someone trying to kill Shepard, while the second story has you meeting up with your crew for various small events, before finally bringing everyone (you want) together for a massive shindig at your new apartment.

The writing in this DLC pack is just so well done. They could have taken things as seriously as they did the rest of the game, but the writers knew what their audience wanted. Even with the serious events going on, the crew of the Normandy (past and present) still find the time to crack wise about it; from Shepard worrying about how he sounds like to other people, to Tali wanting to get back at a sushi shop that shunned her so many years ago.

The combat arena is a welcome addition, and almost worth the price of the DLC alone. The arena is based around a condensed version of the co-op multiplayer mode that only lasts 3 rounds and has it’s own set of maps. You can assign various settings to a match, from what enemies you want to face (all the MP enemies are here), what maps you want to fight on (including at least one that seems to be based on Pinnacle Station…!), any type of score modifiers you want to have, and finally your teammates (including allies who you can’t even get in Mass Effect 3!). Victory ears you tickets based on performance, and the tickets can be exchanged for more unlocks in the arena, or straight up for money, which means you can start getting unlimited cash to fuel all the other gaming in this pack, or just to help you finish off buying everything you’ve been holding out on.

And probably one of the best things about the combat arena is that it also serves as a much better implementation of the firing range at the Spectre offices, since it has you engaging actual enemies so you can see generally how well the weapon will fare against your enemies.

 

I’ll finish off this review with a collection of screenshots I took while playing the story of this pack. While they’re all mostly out of context, some people may consider them spoilers, so please be aware of that. You’ll find them after the break.

 

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I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~11 hours
Platform: PC (Steam)

So, if you already read my previous Snap Judgement on Torchlight II, things have not changed a whole lot between the beta and the final release of Torchlight II.

The main difference between the beta and the final release is that they changed the skill system from instead being a tree of sorts to being a flat set of 7 active skills and 3 passive skills per tree. They still don’t require points put in earlier skills, instead being gated by level. The only main difference is that active skills how have “tiers” that you unlock every 5 points you put into them that give various extra improvements to the skill, such as adding damage reflection, increasing attack range, or setting hit enemies on fire. However, like I mentioned in the beta, I’m still not sure how I feel any more about this kind of talent system, but in the end it works well enough for the purposes of the game. The addition of the tier structure also makes points more then just tiny improvements.

My strongest impression now that I’m 11 hours into the official release, is that the game REALLY feels like Diablo 2. The story is very similar and the areas you are in for each act (up to 3, at least) are very similar. But also changed enough to fit their own internal narrative. I can’t fault them for this, though; Torchlight was made  by Diablo vets, after all. And they do a great job at realizing their idea of the loot-driven action RPG.

Another major difference between Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3, besides TL2 being based on Diablo 2, is that TL2 doesn’t care about if you want to mod or hack your game and get items easier then you would normally (or super busted items that aren’t even in the game at all). In fact, there’s even achievements for running the game with a bunch of mods installed, and the game will have Steam Workshop support for mods as well. If you really care about the sanctity of your random drop system, you may find this irritating if you go and play online with random people.

All-in-all, I found Torchlight 2 to be well realized game, and still want to put a ton of time into it, even after 11 hours already.

 

(For the record, though, I’m definitely expecting Act 4 to be set in some kind of volcano.)

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~5 hours
Platform: PC (Steam)

At a first glance, FTL is a kind of game that I probably wouldn’t like. Maybe using the term “roguelike” is a bit misleading, but the whole “superhard, random generated adventure” type of thing was not very appealing to me. Something about FTL just really agrees with me, though. Maybe it’s the space? Or maybe it’s the strategy.

But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. In FTL you control a starship as you try to outrun a rebel army and deliver important intelligence to your HQ. Except you’re not controlling the ship, per-say, but you’re instead directing crewmen to various locations to repair damage or manage systems, and directing ship power to various things like shields and weapons.

And it’s really hard. As you progress through the various sectors, enemies hit harder and have more abilities, and you start to encounter random events that are more dangerous. And on top of all this, the forward wave of the rebel army is always advancing, taking over systems as they hunt for you to stop your journey.

All this pushes you forward into more danger, though it’s not fast enough that you can’t take some time to wander around a sector and grind out events and battles for money and gear. All of this you need if you want to make it to the end.

Battles are where the bulk of the strategy comes in. You can’t control your ship’s movement, and it’s seemingly inferring that you and your foe are moving around each other even if it doesn’t look like you are, because weapon fire always comes from random directions. During combat, you need to assign power to your weapons, up to the maximum amount of power your weapon systems can handle (all of this is upgradable). You then direct the weapons to fire at specific rooms on the enemy ship, which allows you to do things like focus on taking out enemy shield systems or life support.

As a result, there’s actually a number of ways you can defeat enemy ships. An easy strategy is to beat on their shield and weapon systems until they die, without dealing much damage to you. But by using various means, you can also do things like destroy the enemy’s life support systems and wait for them to suffocate, or send over an away team to kill the enemy crew. If you defeat an enemy ship without blowing it up, you can get more salvage from them, but many of the means to do so are much higher risk then just blasting it to pieces.

That combined with various crew races with different stats, and a large variety of unlockable ship types with different powers (such as one that starts with an ion gun that’s useful for taking down enemy systems without actually damaging them, or even just taking down shields easily, as well as a drone launcher that costs a resource, but is a very consistent source of damage; or another ship that doesn’t have shields, but instead comes with a stealth system and better sensors, thus having you want to avoid combat more) makes for a wide range of various tactics as you work your way to the end of space and your army’s base, hoping to deliver the intel before you get blown to pieces.

FTL is definitely a game for a patient man, as someone who goes in without thinking will find themselves looking at the game over screen often. But even in death you tend to learn more about the game, though some of it’s random events are TOO random; I would have liked it more if some of the events were more hard-coded, so that something that punished me one playthrough was fairly consistent at being dangerous, while something that rewarded me tended to do the same. I’ve had too many cases where I got burned bad doing something that worked before. But for some people, that’s part of the fun. For the rest of you, it may be the only annoyance in what’s otherwise a very solid game.

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~2 hours
Platform: PC (Steam)

Orcs Must Die! 2 is basically more Orcs Must Die!. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but if you were hankering for more wisecracking tower-defense with the lovable warmage, then this game is right for you. If you DIDN’T like his dumb goofiness… then you probably will continue to not like it.

The big change from OMD! and OMD!2 is the addition of co-op mode, which is a MASSIVE improvement over the original. While Orcs Must Die! was a fun game, it came out against Dungeon Defenders, a similar game that still benefits from constant content infusions, as well as having co-op modes by default.

Co-op in OMD!2 is a two-person affair, hence the addition of a new player character. When starting the game, you are prompted to choose a character, who is then tied to that “account”, so to speak. This is because both characters have different starting traps and equipment, and different unlocks.

Basic gameplay is much the same. Orcs come out of a portal, and are trying to escape out into the open. Or, at least, that’s what the first act is about, since apparently the warmage’s skills were not so much in demand after OMD!, so he’s resorted to being a miner to make ends meet. There’s some new equipment (or, at least, new to me since I never did get around to fully beating the original), though I wasn’t very keen on them starting the warmage off with a shotgun instead of the crossbow from the original game. Unlocking the bow is easy, but I missed it for the first few maps.

The upgrading system was also overhauled in OMD!2. While each stage still gives you up to 5 skulls based on performance, there’s also bonus skulls given for… a variety of reasons. And skulls that can drop from killed orcs. This means that if you just can’t get a better ranking on a map, you can still improve your weapons and traps by just replaying previous maps. However, you don’t reget the skulls from performance on a replay, of course.

Your traps and weapons all have a single upgradable bonus, which ranges from increasing damage to decreasing costs, and your choice of two mutually exclusive bonuses. Once you’ve bought one of the mutually exclusive bonuses, you unlock them both Some also have a special unique bonus that changes the way that trap works, be it allowing it to be placed on a ceiling, or what have you.

For the most part, the sorceress isn’t really any different from the warmage. She starts off with a freeze trap instead of a slow trap, and ACID instead of arrows, and her starting weapon has an alt-fire that mind-controls orcs, but other then some other unique traps in her unlock inventory, she gets a lot of the same things as the warmage. Her dancing isn’t anywhere near as good as the warmage’s, either.

So, as mentioned, if you really enjoyed the original Orcs Must Die!, then this sequel is just about everything that was needed from the original title. If you didn’t check out OMD!, but are not AGAINST tower-defense style games, then OMD!2 is something you might want to check out anyway, as knowledge of the original is unnecessary to enjoy the sequel.

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~1 hour
Platform: PC (Steam)

Krater is an interesting type of action RPG, coming out at a time where the genre seems to be getting a resurgence of sorts. You can think of it as a cross between Diablo and Fallout, but leaning much more towards the Fallout side.

Oh, and it’s Swedish, to boot.

Krater is set around a world that basically destroyed itself in nuclear war. The only real known “safe” haven in this post-apocalyptic Sweden is a massive crater known as… Krater. Well, maybe they had other things on their mind. The bottom of Krater is a lush land of resources, which draws explorers and settlers there to try and make a better life for themselves.

You, the player, act as a sort of commander for a team of freelancers who have come to Krater to make their fortunes through following typical Western RPG style quests. You can command up to 3 characters, which is what makes for the twist here. You have your typical selection of classes; the healer, the tank, the ranged DPS, and the melee DPS. But there’s also another rub here, where your characters are all hires that have their own sets of skills from a pool that each class has.

This is all because characters are pretty expendable. Or, well. They can be. Each time a character is knocked out, they suffer injuries that may or may not affect their stats, but if they’re not treated the character could permanently die. To support this, characters have a range of quality levels (your typical MMO set of grey -> white -> green -> blue -> purple -> ???), each having a different recruitment cost and level cap.

Equipment also follows the same pattern. Each character has only two equipment slots, though, one for their weapon and one for an additional ability. However, they also can unlock slots that you can fit permanent upgrades to stats and their powers as they level up. This also means that lower tier characters can’t get many of these slots, since they can’t increase to the appropriate levels. Crafting is also available to help you make weapons and upgrades if you aren’t getting them from drops.

That said, though, Krater is not without it’s problems. The game likes to crater itself every now and then, but it’s getting better because they are doing frequent updates. It does, though, give the impression that the game is now doing a paid beta, even though it did just come off of an extensive regular beta. In addition, there are some hiccups with the UI. Sometimes I’ve needed to press a command button twice to make it actually activate, which can be trouble in a pitched battle.

A last complaint is just one I have in general with RPGs, and that I just don’t like 3-man parties when you have a range of “classes” available. Especially when the game is built around the Trinity of Tank/Heal/DPS. I just feel that it cuts off too much of what the game offers the player.

All said, though, Fatshark has promised to make regular updates (and in fact have made a few at the time of this writing), which includes fixes and new features (such as new NPCs that can upgrade characters to higher quality levels). I expect that they’ll fix up the problems over time, and expand the game further. They’ve already announced that one of the upcoming patches will activate an online co-op, which I’m looking forward to.

If you don’t mind quirky in your post-apocalyptic RPGs, and can stand a bit of klunkiness from the UI, then Krater is definitely a game to check out.

Full Reviews:

Giant Bomb – Quick Look

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~3 hours
Platform: PC

Whoa, a review of a beta? Hey, why not.

With the release of Diablo 3 being SLIGHTLY ahead of Runic’s schedule, they decided to get ahead of the game and do a beta weekend for their upcoming sequel from 18 to 21 May. Since I’ve already preordered the game, I decided to get in on it to check it out!

Torchlight 2 starts off with wanting to improve on the things that people had an issue with in the original game. Firstly, they actually have a co-op mode! 6 player, in fact. You can play either off-line, over a LAN, or through an online game. You can also make online servers that anyone can join, much like the old Diablo 2 Battle.net system functioned. Players can drop in and out on the fly, and it seems like there’s a bit of scaling to handle additional players. And the best part? Loot is generated per-player, so the drops you see are for you and you alone.

The story of Torchlight 2 carries on a little bit after the end of Torchlight 1, where the big baddy has been released, and is now making a swath of destruction across the land. You, as one of 4 new classes; Embermage (elemental caster), Engineer (melee/gunner tank-ish that can summon drones for damage or healing), Berserker (dual-wield melee), and Outlander (gunner). Though the weapon niches is very fluid, as it seems all classes can equip everything, though each class has a skill that increases the effect of the class’ “favoured” weapons, while other skills require certain weapons to be equipped.

On the subject of weapons, Torchlight 2 has a wide range of different weapon categories, from your typical swords and axes to more unusual ones like a variety of guns (pistols, shotguns, and CANNONS) and the normal pool of magical weapons like staves and wands. The cannon, by the way, is pretty ridiculous. I got a unique one on one of my characters, and it was like a super powerful shotgun, utterly obliterating every enemy that happened to stand in front of my character. This is, actually, a good attribute of most weapons; it seems that the good majority of weapons have some passive AoE on them, be it partial damage or full damage, to help with handling the massive swarms of enemies that your typical Diablo-like has.

But not everything they’ve done was modernization changes. At the same time that Diablo is streamlining the character management to get rid of cruft that is no longer really necessary in the genre, Torchlight 2 still embraces the old idea of statpoints on level up and talent points. At each level, you gain 5 points to distribute across your 4 stats: Strength (increases weapon damage), Dexterity (Crit and dodge rate), Focus (MP and elemental damage), and Vitality (Health and block). Equipment also requires certain amounts of various stats to be able to be used, however Runic also throws in a nice touch to this and also gives these pieces of equipment a minimum level that lets you bypass the stat requirement.

Like Torchlight 1, the skill system isn’t really so much a “tree” per say, since there’s no requirement to put points in previous skills to get later ones, which is a great improvement over Diablo 2’s system. However, I’m still not sure I like the idea of getting skill points each level to toss into powers to level them up anymore. That said, there is still not a large number of skills, and depending on how you want to build your character, you can even ignore most of the skills entirely, helping you further. For example, the Engineer’s three skill trees include one based on two-handed weapons, one based on summoning drones, and one based on one-handed weapon/shield tanking. This means that if you’re planning to be a Sword and Board tanker, you have an entire tree of skills that you will be ignoring entirely.

That said, the Outlander’s 3 trees are all things that you could theoretically use no matter what guns you’re using, but you can ignore parts of each tree if you’re using different types of guns (for example, many of the Outlander’s weapon skills only work with pistols, bows, crossbows, and shotguns, so if you want to use cannons or rifles, you can’t make use of those skills at all).

But these are kind of minor things. There are people who are upset that Diablo 3 is streamlining this, even if I think they’re a bit silly. In that case, Torchlight 2 is the game for them, bringing back the sensibilities of the Diablo 2 era, while modernizing the engine. And also loot. Lots and lots of loot. Speaking of loot, another thing I really like about loot in Torchlight 2 is that items on the ground will only say what type of equipment and rarity it is (ie Shortsword, Ring Mail, etc), and then it’ll say what the full item type is in your inventory. As well, entirely unidentified items are a bit uncommon, because you can identify items by being of a certain level automatically, though Unique rarity items always require the use of an identification scroll.

Overall, if you are a big fan of the action RPG/loot gathering style of game (IE Diablo clones), then Torchlight 2 is definitely right up your alley. The game is currently available for preorder on both Steam and at Runic directly. Preordering through Steam gives a copy of the original game for free, while preordering directly through Runic gives beta access to Cryptic’s upcoming MMO, Neverwinter. Steam also currently has a special where you can get 4 copies of the game for the price of 3, to give away to your friends (which also gives 4 copies of Torchlight 1), so you can all play together when the game comes out (hopefully) sometime this summer!

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~3 hours
Platform: PC (Steam)

I really like to use sniper weapons in video games, so Sniper Elite V2 turned out to be right up my alley. It’s a game based entirely on crawling through your typical FPS levels, and either avoiding or sniping anyone in your way. Sure you have some other weapons as well, but why would you use them if you’re playing the game “right”?

Sniper Elite V2 is set during WW2, with your character being tasked with tracking down a number of V2 missile scientists and take them out to stall or stop progress. This brings you to a number of locations, from bombed out German towns to factories. The missions are pretty linear, but do have some variety in how you can move through them. For example, I replayed one of the first ones earlier, and discovered that there were more ways that I could crawl through the streets instead of needing to snipe all the patrols on the streets.

I sniped them anyway because it’s fun, though.

See, when you get a critical hit on an enemy from far enough away, you’re treated to a slow-motion view of your bullet as it travels, and then x-ray views of the enemy as it punches through the body, hitting everything in the path. And what it will track as being hit is pretty detailed; if you hit with a trajectory that would put a bullet through the top of the head and down into the spine, it’ll actually model hitting everything along the way. Hell, the bullet leaving the body on the other side can even hit other enemies, and won’t always come out at the same angle.

And it does model a LOT. Blowing out hips, punching through the intestines, piercing the skull.  Hell, it’ll even model shooting a grenade and having it explode, or even shooting someone in the nuts. Because, I don’t know. Maybe you want to do that.

Making fancy or skillful shots also awards you with points, which the game tallies up and puts on a leaderboard after you complete the mission, so it’s worth your while to try and long-range headshot or grenadeshot anyone you come across. You can even make use of some additional tools you can bring into a mission to help you with that, like tripwires, mines, and explosive bags you can shoot to detonate.

Sniper Elite V2 also has a number of different weapons to choose from, including a pretty wide range of sniper rifles, each with different scope magnifications, bullet speeds, and round counts. And the game also has a number of difficulty levels which add varying degrees of bullet physics, including wind speed and bullet drop. Easier difficulties give you indicators when you use a time slowing ability, though, to help you manage these factors.

However, even on easier difficulties, your character is really fragile, and won’t survive long in a firefight. Which is fine, since even though you can also use a variety of pistols and SMGs, you are playing a sniper game.

Overall, if you aren’t looking for a fast-paced shooter, and prefer taking your time to line up the perfect shot, then Sniper Elite V2 is probably right up your alley.

Full Reviews:

Giant Bomb – Quick Look

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~70 minutes
Platform: PC (Steam)

I’m not meaning this in a negative manner, but Jeff Vogel REALLY likes Exile.

Maybe I should back up a moment. Avernum: Escape From the Pit is a remake of Spiderweb’s Avernum, which came out in 1999. Avernum was itself a remake of Exile, which was released in 1995. All of these titles are large world, story-driven RPGs, all made by a man who might as well be the grandfather of indie games. Jeff Vogel was making independent games before indie was even a thing, selling shareware (remember that?). The original Exile and Avernum are getting to be at the point where they just won’t work on modern computers anymore, which prompted a desire to remake the original trilogy once more.

The story of Exile/Avernum has always been one of it’s stronger points. The world of Avernum is one where an oppressive Empire has a magic portal to a hellish underworld where they throw prisoners of all shapes, be they violent, petty, or political. Down in the darkness, these people have banded together to make a life for themselves against all the odds, dreaming of the chance to retake the surface.

In Avernum 1, the story is mainly one of survival, as your band was just thrown through the portal and you need to make a life for yourself. You start off by making a group of 4 characters. While there’s “classes” available to choose from, all they actually do is award prepackaged stats. As you progress through the game, all characters can do all things if you want to, but you don’t have unlimited points in which to do so. Unless you want to use the included save editor, that is (another Exile/Avernum staple). With regards to dialog, you have choices available to you as to how you want your characters to act, but it’s not as in-depth as say Skyrim or Mass Effect. But it doesn’t need to be.

System-wise, Avernum: Escape From the Pit uses a modified version of the one from Avadon, Spiderweb’s previous title. The biggest changes are your party and the magic system. In Avadon, spells and special abilities all work on a cooldown system, whereas Avernum returns to a MP system. This can make fights easier since you can have healers casting each turn, but by the same token it also makes battles feel better, and feel better balanced.

Avernum also features touched up versions of the original skill and stat art from Phil Foglio, which adds a huge amount of charm to the game. Skills are also better constructed then they were in Exile and the original Avernum, having been built around the same system as Avadon. The only change is that Escape From the Pit also includes an additional set of “feats” you can pick at each level to give more generic bonuses and customization.

Another major improvement over the original Exile and Avernum is the inclusion of an actual quest log to help you at least track WHAT quests you have, even if it doesn’t track progress to a detailed degree. It’s still incredibly helpful.

Overall, if you are a fan of RPGs, it serves you well to go and get a copy of Avernum. Jeff Vogel and Spiderweb Software have honed their art to a fine point, and still manage to put out quality product to support themselves independently for all these years. And for that, I salute them.

I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~60 minutes
Platform: PC (Good Old Games)

As legends come and go, the tale of the Legend of Grimrock (I seriously have to keep checking myself to make sure I wrote that right), sounds like a familiar one. In some fantasy kingdom, the king is a jerk and decides to sentence criminals to exploring a strange dungeon within the mountain of Grimrock. If they can make it out alive, they get their freedom. And no one has made it out alive yet…

Legend of Grimrock is a throwback to olden dungeon crawlers like Swords and Serpents and others I never played a whole lot of because damn Swords and Serpents was hard. You create a party of 4 from among 4 races (Humans, Minotaur, Lizardman, Insectoid) and 3 classes (Fighter, Rogue, Mage). Your party travels through the dungeon as a 2×2 square, which you can re-position on the fly during combat. Regular weapons can only be used by guys in the front two positions, while the rear two positions need either long-range weapons like spears and bows, or magic.

With your “heroes” made, you’re off to delve into the depths of Mount Grimrock. Exploring the dungeon is pretty simple, though the fact that it has both rotate and strafe buttons right next to each other has tripped me up a few times, causing me to accidentally fall into pits or just ramming into a wall.

Combat is also fairly simple. You right-click on the weapon you want a character to use and he’ll swing, hopefully hitting the enemy. As mentioned, weapons have ranges, so only melee weapons in the front row can hit an enemy, though the Rogue class can use the skill points it earns from levelling up to obtain an ability to use melee weapons from the rear row as well. When a weapon is used, it activates a “cooldown” until that party member can attack again. Since you can swap party positions on the fly, you can make use of this to move melee characters into and out of the front rank if you don’t have long-range weapons and have them attack as you wait on cooldowns.

And there’s more then just the monsters out to get you, as well. The dungeon itself is full of traps and puzzles, with hidden rooms and secret passages all over the place. Watching the area and looking for the hidden buttons, or recognizing the signs of a hidden switch like an oddly empty torch holder will get you far and find you loot you wouldn’t get normally until later.

Of course, you can take advantage of these same traps yourself, tricking monsters into falling down pits or locking them behind a door while you catch your breath. The game has 3 difficulty levels to let you choose just how challenging you want encounters to be, and even on Normal some of the fights can be pretty rough while you’re lacking for gear.

If you really enjoy an involved dungeon crawl with puzzle elements, then Legend of Grimrock is definitely something you should look at. It’s available on Steam and Good Old Games, but GoG does offer a number of bonuses such as printable graph paper if you want to go really old-school and turn off the game’s automap.