Currently playing: Avadon 2 - The Corruption, Wolfenstein - The new order

April 17, 2013

Betrayal at Krondor - Revisited


This game had eluded me for several years. I missed it when it was released in 1993 for the PC platform since I had just upgraded to Amiga 1200. It is a story driven RPG based on Raymond E. Feists world and settings. He is my favourite fantasy author and I am quite surprised I haven´t tackled this game earlier on my blog. But better late than never.

Betrayal at Krondor is developed by Dynamix and published by Sierra On-Line. It was a huge success. Let´s see what it can bring today. Is it worth playing ?

I installed the game in DosBox 0.74 and fired it up. I was met by a startscreen and some music. I set the preferences to use max of Everything and started a new game.


A short introduction unfolds. The game starts with Three characters sitting by the campfire: Locklear, Owyn and Gorath. Gorath is a moredhel - an elven race - and held prisoner by Locklear. Owyn is just a magician apprentice that happend to stumble into them. Suddenly an assassin enters the camp but Gorath is fast on his f


We start out right in the wilderness and I am not sure yet if I am one of the members of the group the story is centered on or if my group is. Right in front of us lies the corpse of the assassin. I advance to plunder him for a leather armour. There is also a few outburned campfires nearby that we investigate. All the time small texts popup to tell me in storylike fashion what happens and how my party members reach or how they speak or think. Just like reading a book.

These two assassins layed in wait for us but to no avail
Locklear insist that Gorath must be taken to Krondor in the south as soon as possible and since Owyn has stumbled into the group and know about this, it is security risk to let him go. Owyn therefore stays with the group. I explore the surroundings and go to the east first to explore the nearby town of Yabon. A few houses and a shop is all there is. The shopkeeper have a lot of weapons and armours for sale but I can afford nothing.

Villages and towns are spread out here and there
Since Krondor is due south we leave Yabon and head south.The landscape is narrow. Both sides are surrounded by hills or otherwhise impenetrable terrain. I stopped for a moment to get to know my characters better.

Each one has its own inventory. The left side shows items equipped and it seems it has only rooms for one melee and a ranged weapon and one piece of armour. The right side is the inventory as such. And it is also limited. It is not scrollable so when it seems full, it is full. Every weapon and armour has a condition value which shows its effectiveness. You have skills to repair items or you could find other NPCs to do it for a cost.

Each item could also be examined more throughly which lets you get a description and for weapons/armours also its statistics.


Each character also has a characters sheet showing attributes and skills. Skills will only improve by using them. For example the more you use lockpicking or your melee weapon the higher the chance it will increase. It does however take longer time the higher skillvalue you already has. Morrowind used the same system 10 years after this game.

I have opted Locklear to prioritize his defense skill
A unique finesse is that you can choose an arbitrary number of skills you want to specialise in. They will increase more likely when used but the more you choose the smaller the effect is. In that way you could weigh your skill specializaion among the group members and build different characters. Very nice.

There are four attributes. Stamina is the value that first absorbs enemy hits. After that you health is drained. Speed is the number of squares you can move in the tactical combat and strength affect the damage done.


While travelling the wilderness, certain events triggers. They are always accompanied by story texts that interprets your groups behaviour and let your characters talk. You have no choice in this but to enjoy how the story evolves. I really like this because you feel more immersed in the game. 

As time goes you consume rations. You need rations to restore health/stamina and can choose the number of hours you want to rest. If your health is too low you cannot rest to increase it without using stronger healing artifacts. I have so far not found any and so have reloaded when that occurs.

Ah, one more nice thing to note is that you can never rest to more than 80 % of your maximal strength if resting outdoors. And your skill values are reduced to the percentage which corresponds to your current health/max health. So if you are injured you will not be as effective to use your skills. I like that. It feels more realistic this way.

 
 

So what have happend to me during my first two hours in the game ? Well, we reached the town of LaMut and it showed a still picture of the town with the ability for me to visit the inn, garrisson and a shop. At the garrison I learned about some rumours and the lastest news and the inn brought me some interesting characters. I learned that the dwarves that live nearby can repair armours and my group speculated that the Moredhel must have some special means of communication because they are ambushing us in the road. Such information cannot travel as fast unless magic is involved.



We leave LaMut and continue south. There I find an entrance to the dwarven mines which we enter. I quickly meet some sort of dwarf leader that tells us about an evil creature disturbing their works and that a great reward lies in wait for the one who solve the problem. Since I feel quite inexperienced we cautiously search the mines and stumbles into a few fights with robbers or other denizens. They give us valuable gold and a possibility to exchange our weared down armour and weapons. Besides, most of the humans leave rations for us which are very valuable. I cannot take on every fight though. Some is too tough so I leave them.

Here and there you could find chests. Often in the same rooms as other baddies. Locks could either be picked or opened by the correct key.


There are some locks called Moredhel locks which is a bit special. They contain a riddle and a few characters you could tweak to form the answer to the riddle. These chests often contain very valuable items but I have to admit that at least in half the cases I have no idea of the answer and had to cheat.

Eventually we found the monster which looked more like a giant. He was tough but we managed to kill him and got among other things a special key that opened a door in another part of the dwarven mines where some chests contained valuable items. The dwarven leader was happy to give us gold for our efforts and we left the mines and continued to head south towards Krondor. 

As seen below, both traps and ambushes was prepared for us and we had to fight our way past.



Combat in the game is turnbased. Your health, skills, attributes and condition and type of weapon determines the chance to hit and damage done. They are showned as a percentage and for a sword you could choose to thrust or slash. Slashing deals more damage but at a reduced accuracy. If you are seriously wounded you are not able to do much damage to your enemy at all.

I find that the combat works pretty ok so far. But I´ll have to evaluate more later on.



So far I like the game. But that is often the case the first few hours. I like the storylike presentation. It is more like a book that unfolds. I hope it will keep my interest. I for one, will play on and return in another post....















April 14, 2013

Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption Review






Game reviewed: Vampire the Masquerade - Redemption
Publisher: Activision
Designed by: Nihilistic software
Released: 2000
Formats: Pc, Macintosh
Difficulty: 4/10
Est. Playing time: 20 hours


I know this is not a true RPG in the classical sense. At the end of the 1990:s several more action oriented RPGs where released, the most famous being Diablo in 1996. Another great game was Revenant in 1999. Vampire the Masquerade - Redemption is just one of the games using a 3D engine. Action RPGs became very popular from that moment and for many years to come. It wasn´t until Daggerfall or Morrowind for the broader masses showed that true 3D games very well could be combined with solid RPG game mechanics. 

What constitutes the RPG element of these action oriented games is mainly the character building. You get experience points in one way or another and can choose different paths in skill trees, magic schools and attributes. The story could be strong or weak depending on the game but what I personally dislike these games for is the hack´n slash ingredient and the focus on looting and equipment. There is very few, if any, decisions or dilemmas to be made in the story. They are extremely linear. The same goes for Vampire. The strength with the games is that they are easy to get into and give you easily attained entertainment but lack the depth and complexity of traditional RPGs.

Let us see what Vampire could bring in my review scales....

Gameworld & Story
The gameworld spans from the medieval ages of Prague and Vienna to the modern cities London and New York. That is a variety not found in many games and give this game some credit, even though I personally prefer to play them in fantasy settings. The story is strong in Vampire. I like the sorrowful tale of Christof in his search for his love Anezka. The dialogues and texts you find that bring the story forward is very well written even though it is linear. You have no possibility to alter anything of importance. The gameworld in itself is pretty empty except of the fact that the settings relies on the tabletop roleplaying game Vampire the Masquerade.

You never find information about the world or settings unless it is important for the story. The maps are confined with only one way forward almost all the time and must be traversed in a sequential matter.

Rating: 2.5

Economy
In the beginning gold is scarce and you have a lot of good equipment to drool over. But in the middle of the game the equipment remains basically the same even tough you have progressed to Vienna from Prague. You get more money and you find chests that gives you a lof of equipment. Somewhere in Vienna the excitement of looting chests dissappears. They always contain the same type of items. The rare and unique items in the game are very few and even if you get enough money there are no good weapons or armours to buy. When you get to the modern world the equipment is replaced with modern equivalents but those do the same amount of damage as old swords. This destroyed all the fun with looting and economy for me and is a major drawback.

I had too much money in the end that could only be spent on buying plasma bags or other blood potions. I think they failed in this respect because one of the strengths of a action RPG is the looting and here that ceases to be a positive factor midgame.

Rating: 2

NPC & Interactions
You meet a few NPCs along the game and they are narrated very well and with good voice acting. I give one plus rating for that. It is one of the games strong points. 

You have howerver very few occasions where it matters what you say and in most cases every dialogue is scripted anyway. There is no interactions to speak of worth its name.

You could not speak to people seen in the streets. They are only there to act as moving blood supplies. That makes the environment outside the complex very empty. They are only there for you to look for the stores.

Rating: 1.5

Monster, tactics & combat system
There are perhaps a few dozen different adversaries in this game. Some of them are present through the end like ghoul rats and some are unique for the complex you are currently in. Since this is a hack´s slash game I don´t bother much with tactics other than with the bosses but there are a few denizens that requires special tactics to defeat if they are numerous. Some also could disease or posion you but that rarely happens.

The monsters never use any tactics except that they could cast spells from their discipline groups. They always attacks in masse, never retreats or gives up and each combat in itself is isolated from the rest of the game. That is, you take on each group of enemies one at a time sequentially while even seeing the next group of monsters standing stationary or slowly moving in the neighbouring room without interferring. That is pretty lame in my eyes.

The combat system is very simple but acceptable. You hold your mouse button on the enemy and continuously hack until killed. An irritating thing is that this is interrupted when you get hurt so you have to re-click your enemy. Also, trying to control your other members during combat is a waste of time. You have to rely on the computer A.I which is not very good. Your strength affects melee damage and your dexterity the chance to hit. 

The A.I spend all blood pool available and never housekeeps any resources. That forces me to carry most of the blood reserves on my character so we could use them when we need them and not for simple fights. The pathfinding is also problematic and several times your other characters gets in the way both in and out of combat. But worse is that they could remain passive in combat if you are unlucky and just stand there despite your offensive stance settings for them.

This game could have been improved if there was more micromanagement for the A.I like "allowed to use its disciplines", "Scrolls", "switch weapons" etc. As it stands combat is pretty boring but the discipline groups and skills they give you are fun and I can think of a lot of different character builds.

Rating: 2

Magic System
The magic in this game is the dozen different schools of disciplines. They each contain several different "spells" which you be learned from one to five steps. They give great variety to the game and is one of its strongest points.

Rating: 3

Character generation & development
I like the system used in this game for character advancement. There are no levels as is traditional in RPGs. You accumulate experience points for enemies slained and as long as you could return to your haven you could use them regardless of how many XP you have aquired. That means you could either save them to buy some skill that is more expensive or buy inexpensive skills in areas you don´t know much about. The same goes for you attributes. The less proficient you are in some attribute the cheaper it is to buy. This system gives more flexibility because you could save your XP (As I normally do) and use them up on a particular skill or discipline when you feel you need it strongly and with good proficiency.

The number of disciplines and their skills also make for many different character building strategies although I am aware that many skills have similar effects (just like magical spells often has). Nevertheless, the system works great and is one of Vampires´ strongest parts.

Rating: 4

Map design
The maps in the game are very irregular, spanning corridors attached to rooms and in a repeating matter. Some stairs here and there and always in four levels. You only have an automap when outdoor because the indoors maps are sequential so it is hard to get lost and almost all levers are clearly seen. I am not overly impressed by the maps, my favourite was probably the church and clocktower in Vienna where daylight could damage you.

Rating: 2

Manual
The manual is very well written and describes all disciplines, vampire clans and other game mechanics very well. It was a joy to read.

Rating: 4

Graphics, sound and interface
Graphic wise I find Vampire quite uneven. Certain indoor settings like in the modern world are very detailed with indoor furniture and stuff. In the medieval designs it is much more empty. The characters are not very detailed. I am not sure of what to expect from a game from the year of 2000 but it does certainly not impress me in any way. The architectural design of some levels, like the church of flesh, factory or clock tower is more impressive. The 3d-engine in itself and its lightning effects I have nothing to say about but the detail level aren´t that good. It might be ok for the time period tough. But I remember personally that I preferred 2D-isometric perspective many years after 3D had become standard since more details could be shown. Examples of such games is Revenant and Baldurs Gate 1 and 2.

The music in the game leaves no footprints at all except for Anezkas theme (Listen). And I am a gamer that really appreciates ingame music. The sound effects is ok but the voice acting is above average.

The interface of the game is clean and easy to understand. The only problems I have had is with the path finding and mouse control. You get used to the camera view very quickly and especially when you realise there is no tactics involved in 95% of the fights anyway so you don´t need to see everything that happens during combat for your other party members.

Rating: 3

Gameplay
So it is worth buying ? Well, if you like the Vampire settings and the gothic theme and this world. Yes definetely now when it is not very expensive. Personally I lost interest after leaving the medieval settings only to find that I have to repeat everything again (getting new cash and inventory) in the modern settings. Too little variety and too repetitive.

In the beginning I was strongly hooked since everything was new but I lack secrets areas, puzzles, optional sub quests, more NPC:s, more varying combats, more equipment, better looting etc. A major breakdown of the game is the lack of good equipment to buy. Looting is totally broken in the modern world. You will never get anything worthwhile. Since London, I only played the game for the sake of completing it without much enjoyment.

Another problem I have with the game is the lack of control of your other party members. As I´ve said before I would like some sort of detailed settings to control how much - if any - blood they should use or which disciplines they should prioritize. If I don´t control them directly you could never be sure of what will be cast during combat.

Rating: 2.5



Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
2.5
Economy
2
NPC & Interactions
1.5
Monsters, tactics & combat system
2
Magic system
3
Character generation & development
4
Map design
2
Manual
4
Graphics, Sound and Interface
3
Summary CRPG value
24


Gameplay
2.5




April 12, 2013

Vampire: The Masquerade - Won

My small Coterie eventually came to New York. We had managed to get some Interpol ID:S for us so we were able to talk to a special agent in New York that had the Giovannis place under surveillance and that the code for it was being cracked by FBI. We where told that we would not be allowed to take part in the raid so we begun to investigate the streets to find another way.

Samuel turns out to be a loyal servant to me
Here we rescued Samuel, a vampire, that was attacked by his own coterie. He volunteered to join us and so I brought him along. He said he knew someone who could tap into FBI:s network to get the codes and brought us to an apartment to a crazy guy named dev/null. He said we should place a listener down in the sewers at a special place for him to be able to catch the network traffic from FBI.

The Sewers
We went down into the sewers and fought ghoul rats and other creatures there in the tunnels for several levels until we found the place we looked for. After having placed the item there we returned back to the hacker dev/null and he gave us access codes to get into the Giovannis place.



Giovannis place was full of fights through his factory-like complex. Most rooms contains chests and foes often leave things behind them but it was a long time ago I found anything worthwhile. The looting part of the game is broken since midgame. More of that in my coming review.


We eventually found Giovanni himself behind his desk and computer and he offered himself to make a deal with us. I threatened him to force him to reveal that the stuff he imports from the shipments goes to Orsi international. He only makes a lot of profit from it. When he was about to say more, Pink took the lead and killed him in front of our eyes. Pink revealed himself as a spy that would see that we never learned of Vukodlak (the ancient vampire that was about to be awaken) whereabouts. Pink then fled and I have never seen him in the game since. I had to reload this part only to be able to strip him of valuable equipment before he left the group. I never liked him anyway....


We looked around the city and found Orsis former apartment that now was on sale. There Lily found blood trace from her mistress that had dissappeared. Our search took us down to the storage area where we found the mistress in work of doing a painting by blood. She had to deliver it to Orsis New Year party later this night. During our conversation we where interrupted by the collectors of the painting and a small fight begun. The opponents was easily disposed of. We now took the painting to be delivered at the party with the hope of getting in ourselves.


We entered Orsis factory complex and searched for him for several levels until we found him in his office. As always he mocked us and said we where too late for the resurrection of the ancient evil. A short fight started but ended with me throwing him out of the window down to a lava pool in the factory.


A reasonable punishment for his crimes

We learned that the resurrection would take place in the Cathedral of Flesh in the city and went there to once and for all put this evil to permanent death. It was a pretty interesting complex full of War Ghouls and their greater cousins, demon hounds and other denizens of evil. We fought our way down the church....



 ...until we finally met Vukodlak himself with Anezka beside him. A fierce combat ensued but by using prison of ice on him all the time he was pretty easy to overcome. Or rather, he fled and throw us into the deeper levels by opening up a trapdoor in the floor.


Anezka is seen to the right

 Anezka was never part of the combat and we learned in these deep dungeons about her diary. Her soul was trapped and she tried to resist the evil for centuries until she decided it was hopeless and begun to embrace it. But only to gain power against Vukodlak himself.


She had to do terrible things but had no choice if she were to survive.  When we had climbed our way up to level one again. We met Vukodlak in a final fight in the big church hall. This time he transformed to a demonlike creature which was very tough to defeat. I had almost no blood reserves at all left but managed to use potence, and celerity (fast moving) and use all my blood reserves to continuously freeze him and after a long battle he died at my sword. But it took three or four attempts.


Since Anzeka was his ghould she would die without him but we had the chance for some final words and she was as beloved as I remembered her centuries ago. I took her last life sign by biting her and the she died but with a happy face.



And that was the end of the game.


I thought the game ending was pretty nice and the music that surrounded the ending scenes. I like the story but lacked any alternatives or opportunities in the few dialogues the game offered. My next post will naturally be a review of this game.

April 9, 2013

Vampire: The Masquerade - A bit repetitive

Last time I had just woken up in London in 1999. Within a few seconds I realised I was alone, without my equipment and held prisoner by Vampire Hunters in a mansion.

Even though one or two of my most powerful weapons from my vault survived, all other equipment and my cash was lost and as it will turn out it doesn´t seem I will get it back. It´s like starting out a new game again. Here I have been trying to not overspend or waste my potions, scrolls and other unique items all the time, making the game harder for me but with the knowledge that I will need them when it gets really rough. And now they are just taken from me. Argh!!...I am not too happy about it. Still I have my levels, skills and attributes preserved.

In my search I found some documents that revealed that this organisation really was digging into the history of places I had visited in Prague and Vienna.

All documents and texts are voiceread
The first levels I was exploring - or rather cleansing - was some sort of lab center or R&D center buried deep into the ground below the mansion. Computers littered the place everywhere and it was guarded by lab personal equipped with everything from stakes, revolvers, shotguns and incinerators to automatic weapons.

I tried several of those weapons but I thought most of them was worse than using my blood sucking sword. Besides, they needed a lot of ammunition which just takes valuable inventory space. My favourite discipline skill, the vitae theft, worked wonders here. I could suck the blood out of my enemies from a distance in one shot, leaving them dead on the spot. I didn´t need any other weapon.

I slowly worked my way upwards until I reached the ground floor of the mansion. The graphics was pretty nice overall in London. Many more details than I remember of the medieval indoor settings.


Looking for a way out of my imprisonment

It was obvious of the letters I found that an excavation was taking place to find the graves of the vampires and other things related to my previous experiences. The one person responsible for all this was one Leo Allatius and I was his greatest prize so far in his diggings. He just longed to tormenting such an evil creature as myself. His next goal was to hunt down the Tzimisce who had stealed artifacts Leo said was rightfully his.

The intention of my captors was slowly revealed

Right at the upper floor of the mansion - after having killed all the guards - I stumbled into the office of Leo himself. As all my adversaries before him, he mocked me and it was quite a delicate dialogue to follow. But as history repeats itself, he was also passed to the other side by my sword after my efforts to negotiate something out of this situation failed.


They appear so preeminent and superior but few have enough to back it up
I found more documents to reveal what Leo was up to. He was seeking life eternal but without the curse of Caine (that is, turning into a vampire). He was also out to destroy all competition. So to say he was a vampire hunter for the sake of goodness is really being to be out on slippery ice.


I left the Mansion, leaving hundreds of bodies, and entered the streets of London. Now I lacked directions but I had access to a map so why not just walk around for awhile ?

Map of one part of London. The green spot is the area I am currently in

At a bar I met Pink and after a lengthy discussion where he - amongst other things - revealed that the connections in my story goes all the way to gangsters in New York, he volunteered to enter my group. which I of course allowed since I was alone.

I don´t like Pink but I needed cannon fodder

His advice to find more about the shipments to New York and from where they go and who is behind that was traced back to a brothel in the city. In their store room I found a passageway leading down to a Sithe Temple.  Here I also found another ally, Lily, that I allowed into my group.


It was here I fought my way forward for three levels before getting to tire a bit of the constant slaughter and fights and the always four level complexes that had to be traversed. I was seriously thinking of quitting this revisit now, knowing that few surprises would probably reveal themselves in this game. But I kept moving. More for the sake of completing it than experiencing true enjoyment.


Deep down in the temple I met the high priestess. I quickly destroyed her but felt that she was not totally vanquished. I learned that her heart was stored in Tower of London and had to be destroyed in order to permanently defeat her. Besides, she knew information about the shipment to New York that she didn´t reveal.

My inventory in this modern world

We wen´t to the tower of London and for four levels I fought mainly spiders and other creatures before finding her heart. I was surprised I didn´t need to fight any powerful guardian and so returned back to the streets. Just outside we where overwhelmed by a huge werewolf that torned us to pieces. It was a bitterly hard fight. I think I had to try for at least half a dozen fights before I managed to destroy it with the help of my lightning spells. One of the toughest foes so far in the game.

I returned it to the temple and the priestess was brought back to life. I forced her to reveal that the ship St Magdalena was about to head for New York any time soon. After that, Pink wanted me to destroy her but as a good guy I gave her back her heart. Of course she didn´t thank me in any other way than trying to kill me by transforming into a huge snake. I managed to kill her with the help of boosting my skills and had the choice of destroying her heart of consume it for my own benefits. I choosed the former one, good as I am.




 After she was destroyed we searched for the ship in Londons harbour and boarded it. Some time later we where in New York and hopefully the next post will be my last.....





April 1, 2013

Vampire: The Masquerade - More about the game mechanism

Since the game is very linear with few - if any - options so far to affect what will happen, this post will focus more on the game mechanics, while a summary of what has happened will follow afterwards.

Each city or area has one shop for weapons and armours and one for magical items, potions and scrolls. Between the missions it is crucial to visit them to upgrade your equipment and sell your loot. You have limited space in your inventory and mine is almost always full so I can only take with me items that are worth a lot to sell.

In the beginning I thought the stock had quite a lot of different items but now in the middle of the game I don´t see much variations and it is hard to find or buy any good magical items. In the first 10 hours of the game, looting chests was fun and certain chests really hold rare items like better armours or weapons but now it seems there is a limit of what you could find and I feel I have reached the limit of what I can get. That makes looting quite unattractive for the time being.


In some missions you could backtrack the same way you came and return to the shop to replenish things but at certain missions that is not possible and if you are not well stocked up your could have a hard time to survive. To get enough blood is a constant aim for every groupmember because you need blood to heal yourself as well. Your blood pool is like a mana pool and all your disciplines draws from that. In boss fights, careful use of your disciplines could be mandatory to win them.

I remember that I in my first post said I thought the game was too easy at the start. Now it is more balanced and I have had several tough combats where I´ve had to come up with a perfect mix to use my abilities in order to win.

Disciplines

There are around a  dozen schools of Discipline groups, each with its own range of related skills. Each skill could be upgraded from one point to five, where each additional point costing much more than the previous one. But the power of the skill will be greater. 


In my group we have prioritised healing. So using my pool of blood we heal hitpoints and since I´ve put many points in it it we can heal more for every cost of blood. Another example is the skill Potence which adds additional damage in combat. The effect is really noticeable between two and four points invested in it. For other skills like summoning a wraith to help you, it is more difficult to say what has improved. The length of the summoning ? The power of the wraith ? Both ? Sometimes I try out investments in skills attack a nearby guard and reload to change my allocations so that I feel satisfied with my decisions. Once you´ve invested your experience points, there is no turning back.

If you are lucky you could find powerful books that teaches you a totally new discpline group. They are very rare though and you have to carefully decide which memeber should learn it. The only thing you could be sure of is that you yourself will be around all the time.

The manual for the game is very good, explaining not only game mechanics but also a long history about the different vampire clans and the gameworld. This is just another example of lengthy manual that are never included in games nowadays. 



Combat


Talking a little more about the combat system I can say that it really are a hack´n slash game. As long as you hold the left mouse button down on your selected enemy, your selected companion will attack continuously until either one is killed. If you hold down the CTRL key at the same time, the whole group will target that creature as well.

So what is affecting the outcome then ? Well, first you have the terrain. I have often lost fights or gained heavy losses by not having enough ground for all my members to move on. For example if being stuck in a stair, doorway or corridor. You could also drag out the enemies one at a time and kill them off instead of having the whole swarm of them attack at once. That is probably the most important thing to master if you are to survive later on.

What I don´t like with this system compared to true realtime 3d dungeon crawlers like Dungeon Master is that enemies will never walk around other than in very limited pre-planned routes. They don´t react to anyting happening outside of their limited activation zone. That becomes somewhat boring, predictable and repetetive after awhile. But most action-rpgs are like that.

You could set the groups offensive stance from defensive, neutral to offensive. If set to offensive each member will actively seek out the enemies and split the group. I only see a use when I know we will win the fight. Otherwhise it could be very dangerous. I never use defensive because they just stand there while their comrades are being attacked. Neutral is the best one since your team holds together but tries to thwart any attack. Still a problem is that sometimes your group members just stand there doing nothing while one of your nearby teammembers got beaten up. That is a flaw. Also the path finding is not very good. Many times your own members block you from getting through.

What affects combat is your dexterity which indicates if you will be able to hit and strike a critical hit. Your strength affect damage together with the weapon of choice. Of course your armours and stamina helps you soak enemy damage. Your use of scrolls and discipline skills are often important to determine the outcome of the harder combats.

Something I don´t really like is that the members your don´t actively control use up potions and blood mana as they see fit. They could use up valuable assets for pretty simple fights. I would have like to be able to individually tweak their behaviour.


The story continues...

In my last post we where tasked by the prince to free some slaves in order for him to reveal what he knows about Anezka. We entered a complex and managed to free some slaves in the end.


One of the prisoners was Erik, a vampire that when set free, volunteered to join us. He was very welcome and brought great combat strength. I had to try to give him what I could offer in the form of equipment. The rest would be bought when coming back to town.


In the end I found the one responsible for taking all prisoners. His name was Ardan and he had a very entertaining speech. Actually, most dialogues are excellent in this game. Especially for the bad ones. I often chuckle to their ingenious ways of expressing themselves. Before being killed off by me that is....

What I learned was that Anezka had joined the october caravan of slaves heading to Vienna since she had learned of a way for a vampire to be redeemed. She found out that master Etrius knew more about that and he lives in Vienna.

Anyway, I later convinced Ecaterina I had to follow Anezka to Vienna and she had no ways of stopping me so she let me go together with my trusty companions.



In Vienna we learned from some women in an inn that count Orsis would have a reception and we got invitation for his mansion so we went there.


We there met Orsi but he refused to reveal anything about the slave transport unless we did a job for him: To get rid of his enemy Luther Black, a priest turned into a vampire that dwelled in the church. Orsi is one of the best characters I´ve met so far in this game. His voice acting and dialogue is excellent.



In order to reach Luther Black we had to climb into the rooftops to reach a secret entrance into the church.


This was the hardest complex so far. Each complex usually consists of four levels and in this one we had tough opponents, no returning back and with daylight entering the church courtyard that burned us if crossing which made both fights and movement much harder. Besides, there was an obstacle only crossable by using a skill that gives you extremely fast movement. Fortunately a scroll was placed nearby in case you didn´t have that skill.

Eventually we found Luther Black that wished us to kill him to redeem his sins if I took them on me instead. Something which I accepted because he didn´t seem that evil after all. We killed him by opening up the rooftop and let the daylight strike him while he was laying on the floor below to accept his fate.

When we tried to retrace our track back to exit we where surprised to see Orsi himself stepping forward to reveal that he never intended to hold his word to us and therefore imprisoned us in a dungeon.


My female companion used one of her necromantic skills to raise a headless body to pull the lever and free us from our imprisonment. But we had to fight our way out through four levels with Teutonic knights that swarmed the place.


Eventually we escaped and was back in town. At this stage I learned of a skill called "Walk the abyss" which immediately connects me to my haven. While there I can upgrade my attributes and disciplines. It does not work at every place but often enough to be extremely useful.

In some way or another we stumbled into the Haus the Hexe, a large complex that gave us the Etrius Journal, that Orvus the magic shop owner wanted. If we gave him this we could enter the fortress.

So this led us to enter the Haus the Hexe (nice name by the way) and here I entertained myself with their reactions towards me.


Eventually I came to the last part of this complex and my opponent bewitched Erik and turned him against us, forcing me to kill him unfortunately. That was a tragic event but unavoidable. I had to reload to get hold of his good equipment before he departed. The battle with the boss was quite hard as well but after a few tries we vanquished.



We never found Anezka, she was always ahead of us but obviously alive through all here adventurous contacts. We returned back to Prague only to find out that the castle was besiged, the prince dead and now I heard Anezka could be hold hostage there so we immediately headed there.


Yet again, four levels had to be breached until I reached some abomination that tried to stop us. I was quite surprised how easy he was killed and suspected more waited for us ahead.

There in a throne room we saw Anezka and another dark figure. Anezka was not herself. She was hateful and scorned me. She had obviously been brainwashed or trapped to the other side and I tried to force her with me but then the castle trembled and a pillar of stone fell towards us. 


While our scream vanished everything went black and I awoke in 1999 in London, raising up from a crate. Now I was trapped by vampire hunters that tried to kill me using modern weapons. Fortunately a few of my own weapons was saved but I had to pick up pistols, revolvers and even machine guns that my adversaries dropped behind them. I had to flee this complex. It seemed the leader had excavated a region in Prague and gathered all these old items in search of something. Perhaps there where traces of Anezka here. I don´t know. I just know I have to flee this place....





 At this stage, the game begins to feel very repetitive. I am just barely enjoying myself. Every complex, however modern or medieval is just the same thing repeated over and over again. Enter rooms one after another and slay all therein. Pick up items along the way but as said before there are few really good items out there so looting is not interesting anymore.

I´ve had many good hours playing Vampire Redemption but I am not sure it is worth playing it to the end. I have all I need for a review anyway. Still, my stubborness tells me to not quit and left something unsolved so we´ll see what the next post turns out into.