Currently playing: Icewind Dale 2, Demonicum

November 20, 2017

Half a million pagehits passed

Today was the day when my pagehits reached half a million. The blog started out in july 2011. In the last 6 years, 233 posts have been made and 612 comments on them. I have reviewed 32 games and tested numerous others which had not qualified for longer periods of play. Unfortunately the page hits doesn´t tell you the real statistics. The real amount of readers is far less which google analytics tells me about but still....

I know I have been absent for several months. I have had much to do lately. The games I am currently playing are Vaporum and Elex. Both comes highly recommended. I like Elex the best. It is done by Piranha Bytes the developers of the original Gothis and Risen series. If you have played those games you will see and experience the similarities in certain areas.

July 20, 2017

Action RPG Inquisitor on sale!

Right now the excellent action-rpg Inquisitor sells with 70 % discount at Steam. This games comes highly recommended. If you like a heavy story with much text, a lot of items, good feeling and atmosphere and a long game this is the one.


June 21, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - Review




Game reviewed: Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession
Version: 1.0.4
Created by: Dreamforge Intertainment / SSI
Released: 1994
Formats: Pc
Difficulty: 8/10
Price$8.89 (both Ravenloft games at gog.com)

Gameworld & Story

Storywise I think the writers succeeded in conveying a dark and sinister atmosphere throughout the whole game. The writing was really good. I can tell after all my games in this genre that it is well above average. While the main story per se - travelling to a new county surrounded with mists - might not be the most logical or original, it works out quite well. Right from the beginning where you get to hear about Strahd you know something is wrong but cannot point your finger at it. Then gradually you will get pieces of information from both living and dead about the true character of Strahd and the story behind it.

The world feels a little more living because of your characters comments about the environment and what they perceive. This was not that common for rpgs of this time and is still a fresh bit of content even today. I like when they remark about the deserted and almost dead village or about other places being visited.

Rating: 3

Economy

In short, there is no economy in the game. No shops and no currency. Everything you need you will find and you will have to stash away things in deserted houses because you will get overloaded very quickly with potions and scrolls. But as far as traditional economy goes this is a rating at the bottom.

Rating: 1

NPC & Interactions

There are a few NPC throughout the game. Mostly persons giving quests or followers you can pickup. They are all voiced in a pretty good manner and you have a few dialogue options to choose from even though it is a very simple system. Thanks to the voicing and the well written texts and dialogues the interactions are very interesting  in this game and definetely a highlight.

Too bad there are too few NPC out there though.

Interactions in the gameworld is done by pressing buttons, pulling levers, looking for secret doors or just use the ground to pile up on things. Nothing spectacular on this point.

Rating: 1.5

Monsters, tactics & combat system

Well, combatwise the game is a disaster. Even tough it relies on the AD&D ruleset you just click with your mouse on every monster or foe until they are dead. Add to that the free roaming 3D-world where monsters run around you and you have to fiddle with the slow keyboard to change your heading before striking and this system turns out to be really bad. A pure bottom low rating for the combat system. To cast spells is not easier. You have to press upp a menu of spells, choose spellevel and then click on the spell and then on the target. A slow and cumbersome system without any shortcuts.

Tactics ? What tactics! There are no tactics employed from the monsters at all. They fight to the death all the time. The only exploit I myself found - or I wouldn´t call it an exploit - is that magic missiles seems to be the most effective spell in the whole game. From the beginning of the game to the end of the game the magic missiles never failed to help me out on any foe. One or two hits and most enemies at my feet. They where even more effective than fireballs and ice storms whose radius of effect is impossible to calculate for in the game.

There are quite many monsters and many of them are atmospherically described in the manual. I never found much variance between them except for those that can inflict level drain. Such a terrible design of the developers to include that thing. Fortunately you have to save and reload a lot to progress in level-draining-infested-monster-places.


Rating: 1.5

Magic system

The magic system depends on the AD&D rules. If you have played the SSI Goldbox games you know that you have to memorize spells or pray to learn spells to cast. The same goes here. Fortunately the game allows you to rest almost anywhere in the game without any hinderance.

The game contains most spells that are found for wizards and clerics up to level 6. I never used healing spells or healing potions because it was so easy to rest between fights that this was unneccessary. 


Rating: 2

Character generation & development
I don´t remember now but I think you were allowed to roll up two characters in the beginning of the game and the famous re-roll was there. Bonus for that! The characters are also not starting at level 1 but several levels higher. I don´t remember know but I ended the game at level 9 for my characters.

When you do level up you are automatically given a random amount of HP (hitpoints). You will never get any skills or attribute points so the only advantage of levelling is that you might improve your THACO and get more and better spells. Therefore I wouldn´t say the game allows for much variety and flexibility here.

Rating: 2

Map design

Outdoor maps are in general quite irregular and indoor maps varies in size as well. I like that. You never know beforehand how large a complex will be. There are some thoughts behind the layout.


Rating: 3

Manual

As is often the case with these old games the manual is pretty well written and contains much interesting information on both enemies, rules and the setting.

Rating: 4

Graphics, Sound and Interface


The graphics in the game is poor. Especially today and without and good way to scale the windows down it looks terrible. I imagine it wasn´t that good for its time either. Even Ultima Underworld features at least as good graphics but was released two years earlier. It is almost impossible to see what enemies are trying to look like or what things are in the environment without much fantasy.


The sound is fortunately better fared. The voice acting is pretty good, there is new music for every place and though that music is not very good (except for a theme in the Catacombs) it still adds to the atmosphere. There are also digitized sound effects like screamings, door slamming and the like that those are really good and build upp the atmosphere.

The interface in the game is extremely clumsy and I was close to give up in the beginning because of it. To use items is clumsy, to read scroll, open containers etc. Everything requires to much micromanagement to succeed.

Rating: 1.5

Gameplay
This is a strange game. It is hard to get into but if you give it time and press yourself the first few hours you will see the game grow on you. The atmosphere is good and I can imagine how much better it was in its time. You will learn to handle the combat in a more smooth way but it will never be entertaining. It is the story, the hunt for items and treasure and the occasional level up you play for.

The middle game was perhaps the best part of the game and the last part when entering the castle was a tough and boring part and I was close to give up the game but I persevered. It has many problems going against it but at the same time I love the Ravenloft setting, the voice acting, the environmental texts and the curiosity of what comes next.

The final gameplay rating will be 3. It has some tough titles with the same rating like Dungeon Master II, Faery Tale 2 and Wizardry VII. Even tough those games are better in total I still had about as much fun with this as with them.

Rating: 3

Section
Rating
Gameworld & Story
3
Economy
1
NPC & Interactions
1.5
Monsters, tactics & combat system
1.5
Magic system
2
Character generation & development
2
Map design
3
Manual
4
Graphics, Sound and Interface
1.5
Summary CRPG value
19.5


Gameplay
3


June 14, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - Won!

Last night I finally won the game. It was a race of time and of my patience. I had come to the stage where my patience dwindled and I just wanted to get the game over with.

Last time I had just returned from the castle and bought the Vistrani potion that was said to make me able to traverse the fog surrounding the land and make my possible escape from this damned place. I had no other leads than to return to the first area I came to in the beginning and enter the fog.

Undead forest

My group just prior to the end part

Right before entering I drank the potion and it was split among my group. I then saved the game and entered the fog. I came out on the other side and was immediately surrounded with moving, agressive trees that feriously attacked me from every side. I had to run from them to get my orientations right. When checking my automap I found out I had come to a totally new place called the undead woods. After running around for awhile I found a few seeds on the ground which seemed important and connected to the last ritual I had read from Sascha in the old church. The attacks from the trees quickly forced me out from this area though and I had to flee back to the village and rest the group and prepare for a fight against them but also to completely search this new area.

When returning I took the fight with the trees and unleashed up to ten magical missiles, six fireballs and four ice storms. Even tough I killed 6 or 7 trees the place was full of them and I had to repeat my run-and-rest-procedure until I had found every item of interest in the wood. Still the trees would never be entirely wiped out so I gave up on those. Instead I found a teleporter in the east part that took me to another part of the forest. Here I fought both trees and found more seeds in the ground but also a stone circle with a tree inside. Besided the tree where four piles of stones. One for each of the seeds I had found. I had to run away to rest and then reenter this place, carefully saving at strategic positions along the way. I knew I would be assulted by all trees while planting my seeds but I had no choice. I ran to the stone circle and begun to plant the seeds in the middle of the stone circles. Meanwhile the trees could sneak into the circle and attack me but I killed a few and was drained of all my spells but not before completing the ritual. 


The tree lightened up and revealed the holy symbol of Ravenkind: My weapon to destroy Strahd. I run as quickly as possible from this very difficult area back to the village to rest and then headed for the castle. This was my final visit.



Ravenloft castle
This time I had to get up a few stairs in front of a lock I had never opened before. But by using my bat key I opened it and was led to the dungeons. Now started my search for Strahd. I explored every room, opened every door and fought every undead. Except for the ridiculous hard level draining monsters which names I have forgotten. I make myself invisible and try to run past them instead. At this stage in the game I followed the cluebook to know where to run to press two hidden buttons to open a locked door. Everywhere there where powerful leveldraining undead which was impossible to defeat for me so I just ran and ran. After a few tries I managed to enter the final crypt. Now it was between me and the evil vampire lord Strahd.

Lord Strahd himself in combat

I equipped myself with the Ravenkind before I finally found Strahd. As all evil denizens in roleplaying games he mocks me before he intends to kill me. He then attacks by hurling fireballs and disappears and reappears. I was killed the first two times when I fought him with conventional weapons and magic without any effect. Then I used only the Ravenkind which bursted out a fire beam. After only three hits Strahd died on the floor and I could take the final amulet that was stolen in the beginning of the game. 

But what was I suppose to do now ? Well. Impatient as I was to complete the game now I looked through the cluebook and the only thing I was to do was to read a book I had found that depended on a few special items I had found. Amongst then a feather and an elven crown. After reading the book the ending sequence started. 
 





The end was a joy until a mist flowed down to a chest and a terrible laughter was heard. I finally made it but will there be a natural connection in the sequel Stone Prophet or will it it not ? I don´t know but I will find out in the future. Right now I need a pause from this type of game and my next post will hold my review.


June 13, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - To the bitter end

If you thought I would have given up on Ravenloft you are both right and wrong. Yes, it has been over a month since my last post but I had planned to continue my adventure when time allowed. Which is right now. And it was a very tough restart. To continue in the castle of Strahd with all the stairs leading up and down and never really knowing where to go was not the most attractive start. However, I did load my last save and I really did try to continue - alas with the help of a map of the castle and with some hints on where to go.

So after 30 minutes I felt like I was going forward again. I had already explored a large part of the castle. The problem was to find the stairs I had not explored yet when they are not marked on the automap. I found the last keys required to progress and finally found a prisoner in a tower that I released. He was thankful and offered to help me if I would contact his network in the village tavern. I also found another prisoner which I released which offered to join me but I declined. I never found Strahd tough. This wasn´t meant to be any final battle.




I was quite surprised that my only achievment in the castle would be to get a contact for the Raven network. I returned back to the village and immediately set out for the tavern where the raven group was said to be located. I had already been give a code word to say to the bartender and so I did. I was instructed to a meeting point in a deserted house in the village. There I met three people who demanded me to be blindfolded by using a drug if they would take me to their leader. I had no choice but to do as they said if I would like to get any hints of what to do. So I did.



The leader - a Raven - told me that only one item could destroy the vampire lord Strahd and that is the holy symbol of Ravenkind. Noone knows where it is though except for the now dead priest Sasha that had prepared three manuscripts detailing the whereabouts of the symbol but in encrypted texts. The leader could give me a key leading to a closed door in the old church where he believed those manuscripts could be. He also gave me a scrying glass to decypher the texts should I find them. Needless to say, our new goal was to head straight for the church because I remember there was one door I couldn´t open there. There was only one problem. The meeting place with the raven had left me in the greater catacombs beneath the village of Barovia and I had to find a way out. It was a huge complex filled with terror.

In order to leave the place I had to find different keys that unlocked doors leading to my freedom but I was also told when I finally found a way out that I should carefully look for money to buy the vistani potion to pass through the fog that surround the lands. I had to go back down to the catacombs again and after carefully searching every place I finally found 15 coins which was exactly what I needed to buy the potion. I was almost to give up that search I can tell you and I had to check in an online map where my last two missed coins where hidden. Having done that we immediately headed for the church.




Valuable items in the catacombs

We quickly found the still locked door and used the key from the Raven which unlocked that part and led us down to another floor. An unexplored floor full of black horrors. Fortunately none of them had any level draining capabilities and I always used magic missiles against them. Most of them died by only one hit. Behind a few hidden buttons and secret doors I eventually found three manuscripts. I used the scrying glass to read them but was none the wiser except that I had to perform some sort of ritual outdoor.

The hidden level of the old church

I returned back to the village and took the opportunity to buy the vistani potion. This led up to a cutscene where we where invited to a gypsy camp with the intent of foretelling our future. But the fortune teller said one card was missing from her deck and we where not given any informtion. Back at the village, it was time to explore the foggy parts of the wilderness and perhaps try out the potion ?

A magic missile on its way to the black figure
I feel I am very close to the end but it still remains a mystery of how and where I will defeat Strahd. First I have to find the item but right now I am quite clueless on how to do that. My hope is that in the next post I will have won the game.

We will see...


May 3, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - To the depths of evil

Last time my group had just cleared the whole cemetary except for the major place there. The entrance down to its catacombs. The reason for that was that the entrance was guarded by a very powerful undead creature and the only way to get in was to give the two statues outside the crypt a gift in the form of special bag of dusts I had found in other places of the cemetary. After having convinced them of my intentions they allowed me to pass through the undead guardian and down to the underground cemetary levels.


These levels was the toughest so far. Level draining creatures in almost every room. But I found out a tactic for them too. If I did not have room to manouver and cast spells like fireballs, ice storms and magic missiles from afar, I would cast a protection spell to help against being drained. It only affects one character but by casting it on the two front characters the chances are very much improved to survive at least one hit. Regardless of tactics I had to save the game after every singe enemy killed.


As before my goal was to open doors by finding certain hidden buttons or keys. It took a awhile but eventually I got to the stairs leading down to level 2. While exploring these catacombs I found a lot of different items, mostly healing potions and clerical scrolls but also the occasional magical wand or weapon. Level two required me to open six or seven locked doors in a row and it was only possible by finding hidden buttons around the whole map something which was not that easy because they are difficult to spot and some of them was found in secret rooms. I had to quickglance the cluebook for the last button. In the end I found a staff of revival and an elf´s signet ring. Both items which I concluded was to be used in the church to revive the fallen apprentice the high priest had spoken about. I returned there and to my satisfaction it was correct. I managed to resurrect the person from its bones and could even recruit him, an NPC priest. He was only level 4 I believe and since I was in level 7-8 with the rest of the group that was never an option. He told us about his story and that he had managed to sneak into Strahds castle by using a key. He was willing to give the key to us if we would enter the castle and defeat the evil Strahd, something we where keen to do anyway.


So after having revived him and completed the final chapter of the church and cemetary - or a least that is what I believed - we returned back to the town. It wasn´t until now I realised there was another exit in the town that lead north. We took that route and fought our way forward to Strahds castle. With the key we could enter.



Strahds castle turned out to be a huge challenge. It was interconnected through several stairs to several levels both down and up and also to different towers. It was filled with guards which was tough to destroy but worst of all was the zombie lords. I have yet to defeat one. My tactic is to make the grouip invisible and to sneak past the zombie lords. I have found one key but there are lots of strange places to explore, a huge amount of secret doors so it will take time to complete all these levels at one. I felt quite bored to search through all of these levels and run up and down through the stairs. It was hard to follow since stairs is not marked on the automap so I had to manually make those notes. 

I found several pieces of parchments and letters that Strahd had wrote himself and I am now certain of his true evil. He must be stopped. 

I am struggling through this place right now and hope I have the energy to complete it and get out on the other side. I have no idea how much of the game remains but suspect I have at least completed over 50% by now.

I will return in another post when I have completed all the castles hidden floors and dungeons and when my goal is clear and linear again.

April 25, 2017

Ravenloft: Strahd´s Possession - Promising

With this post I feel things are coming together with the game. Its true self are slowly showned and the more I see the more I like it. It sure have its irksome interface but I am slowly getting used to it and it works better and better.

I never gave up the Caverns west of Barovia. I just had to methodically write notes on the map and to find all teleporters and hidden doors. The graphics is so pixelated in large screen that it is hard to see what things really are. To find a hidden button is very hard and easy to miss. To find a secret passage is even harder. I have now started to strafe myself against the walls and have found several hidden doors that way. This cavern requires you to find four jade keys to open four special doors in order to proceed. I got stuck from time to time and to get myself going again I had to get some hints from an online map that pointed out something I had forgotten or missed totally. Like a secret door. That was the only way for me to proceed. It also turns out that I had to go back and recruit the priest in the entrance of the caves because she is the only one to open one of the last doors in this cavern.


My new system of just clicking on the enemies instead of my characters weapons have made combat much easier. The cavern was inhabited by skeletons and the occasional bone golem. Those golems are pretty tough but not with some magic missiles. I find that magic missiles feels quite overpowered. Most of the tougher enemies in the game could be taken out with only one missile if you´re lucky and at most two or three hits.

The cave hid some interesting stuff like some wands and a few magical weapons. At that time I didn´t have any of my mages with me but a low level spel is identify which I cast on every weapon/armour I find to know wether they are magical or now. If not, I will just drop them. There are also quite many potions littered around in the game and I have never used a single one of them because healing in this game is pretty easy. You could rest almost everywhere as long as you are not in vicinity of an enemy. That replenishes all your spells and also heals the party. It is fortunate this part of the game is pretty liberal since there are other areas that are hard with it.

One major item which is vital in the caves is a key that leads to the church northeast of the village.


Teleporter



Anyway, after some tough searching I finally came to the last door and then the priestess awakened and helped me to open it. Unfortunately those last stages of the game was filled with tough monsters. Just when we had found the portal which we believed was the only way to exit this land and entered it we found that we where teleported to the town again. The warrior that had joined us had disappeared and left us and we felt cheated. The priestess had fulfilled her mission too and abandoned us and we stood there with a huge pile of items they left behind. The only way to pick them up was to quickly recruit two other NPC:s. I returned back to the wilderness just before the caves and picked up the strange mage. Then we returned to the city and I picked up my old companion mage at the tavern. We then got all the equipment and I choosed a base for us. An empty house we used as a stockpile for all of the items we didn´t need for the time being. After this process we continued to explore the village.




Prayer sceen for priests
I found at least one other NPC, a female paladin but since my main character already was one I was content with my party as it was and we left the village to explore the northern parts. The grounds outside the church was filled with undead, mostly zombielike creatures that was easily disposed of. We entered the church with the key we found in the caves and soon discovered a paralysed priest in the main hall in front of an altar and a black mirror where it seemed his soul was trapped in. We spoke to him to learn from his terrible faith and continued to explore these halls. They consisted of two large levels filled with undead, traps and secret passages. 


Church



It took me a few hours to clean out the two levels. Early on I found a book that contained some sort of ritual where I needed four very specific items. I also found a book which I completed by finding missing pages that formed an important message. Together - I suspected - they hold the key to free the high priest in the mirror but those pieces were hard to find. Especially I had trouble open two doors opposide each other with no visible button, hidden door or secret passage nearby. I had to cheat on this one but the solution was not found because this wasn´t particular hard. I found out in a let´s play that the lever for these doors where behind a pillar in the neighbouring room which I had totally missed. The temple was filled with new potions, chests (which act as containers) and some weapons. now I had the mages with me and could both identify all items and also scribe every scroll we found down to the spellbook. One favourite item I found was a magical throwing daggar that returns to the throwers hand. This made it possible to fight with one of my mages to the right because they can only use ranged weapons.

I also had much help of my elven mage that has an innate ability to find secret doors. It helped out a lot in this place.



Eventually we completed the levels and returned to the trapped priest and read the ritual to free him.

As always lovely and helpful comments from the group from time to time

The next part was to explore the area east of the church grounds which was the cemetary. This place increased the difficulty a lot because it was filled with close to 100 undead of which a dozen vampires with draining level abilities. To fight them became my hardest part. Level draining is perhaps the worst thing in any RPG because every level lost could easily translates to several hours of gameplay in grinding. So naturally I saved before trying to confront any vampire and then immediately checked my level status after a fight before saving again.

This took time but even here the tactics is not to get in melee contact. Just shoot magic missiles, fireballs or ice storms and the vampires are quickly gone. It took some hours to clear the whole place including searching into every house in the cemetary. I found a locked grave of the person that murdered the jeweller in the village. I couldn´t open the door but by returning to the village and NOW accept the quest of possession I got the key from the jeweller and could open this tomb. And there he was, an undead lord that I did fight by hurling a few magic missiles at him and then it was over. By returning to the village afterwards I completed this quest and was given a few magical items.





After having reequipped ourselves we where ready to explore the last part of the cemetary...

So my reflections now is that the music had become a little better. I love the sudden screams, footsteps and echos in the environment and the music even picked up a little in the church. Fighting is relatively easy when not fighting level draining creatures. I feel that offensive spells are overpowered compared to similar AD&D games.

More about my adventures in the cemetary in my next post...







April 22, 2017

Ravenloft - Strahd´s Possession - Trying to like it

I continued my quest in them game Strahd´s Possession. I found the village Bovaria. It turned out to be quite large with many, many houses to search. I thought I could just do them systematically but the awkward interface and the terrible graphics in fullscreen mode made it easy to miss exploring some building. Therefore I used the automap which is fully acceptable and you can also make notes on it. I put a X-sign on every house explored and marked places of certain interests.



There are day/night cycles in the game and especially at night the streets are more dangerous. I was attacked by several brigands/thieves which I had to fight off. Fortunately you could rest quite liberally except when in immediate danger. I must tell you that the combat system is really awkward. It plays out in realtime but the steering is terrible which makes it hard to turn around to face the enemies when they also tries to circle you. The combat is a click fest. At least you get information if you miss or hit and what damage you inflict or receive but other than that it is slow and cumbersome. Enemies don´t reveal their health status so you have no idea which in a group have already injured. Also, my figher turns out to be the worst member of the group. He hardly hit but receives most of the damage. The only way effective way to fight is to use my mages magic missiles and my priests flame blade. Since you also don´t get any loot or any visible experience points (I am sure I get it. I would just like to see it like a reward) fightning feels quite unneccessary. It is just a hinder. Enemies seems to wander around by random until they see you and then swarm you. We are all starting on level 6 so any immediate level ups are also not on the table at this stage.

Ok, apart from the boring fights, what happened in the town ?



    Map from the old Paladin
  • I met an old Paladin that had lost his amulet of faith and couldn´t live or die with that shame. He gave me a map where I would find a tree stump and asked me to take a pick from him and dig just west of the tree. There I would find a key leading down to the catacombs under the village. Somewhere there lies the amulet. 


I did all of this and it was quite interesting. The underground catacombs was pretty large filled with fireball traps, living walls and its evil denizens. I could only fight them with magic because my melee weapons did only 1 or 2 points of damage. I had to rest and rememorize my spells a lot down here. Eventually I found two important keys that unlocked some doors. Behind this I found the amulet. I was very lucky because one of the keys was hidden in a room only accessible through an illusionary wall which I just stumbled into. They are very hard to spot with this bad graphics at the fullscreen resolution. It took me 1,5 hour to go through this catacomb.




The automaps for the game are quite good

When I returned to the Paladin he opened a room with my reward. A Paladins sword and some armour. None of them was any better than my starting equipment so I got very dissappointed. I don´t know if they have some special properties or are magical which I cannot detect but the descriptions of their damage or or my armour class was not affected at all.

What lies ahead of me is to explore the rest of the houses. It would take a few hours because I have only begun to explore a few of them. I have decided to take help from an online site with the town already mapped out just to save some time.

Right now I struggle with giving up this game because I don´t feel any progression with my characters, weapons or anything and the interface is really terrible. It is slow and clumsy. To use a potion or an item I have to go to the inventory, select the item put it in my hand and then return to the main screen and press the hand. Still, the free roaming movement in the 3D-world is slow by using the numeric keypad on my keyboard.

Inside a building in the village

The music is very simple but it tries to be atmospheric. I found the music in Ultima Underworld much better. The game's strongest part is the interactions with NPC:s and that your partymembers actually comment things they see from time to time. That is a very good thing and not very common. It reminds me of Realms of Arkania and games like Blade of Destiny and Shadows over Riva. This is probably Strahd´s possessions strongest part right now.



I probably did a mistake by visiting the jeweller in the village. I had already been warned in a comment of my first post but never understood that it was this encounter until it was too late. The jeweller was an undead that demanded that I would slain his murderer who stole things from him a long time ago. This murderer could be found in the cemetary and is now some sort of undead lord. Until I have fulfilled my promise my soul are now possessed by the jeweler. I didn´t acutally find out until an hour or two later when I checked the status of my paladin. He was possessed it said. But I never understood what it meant......Until just some moments later when the ghost of the jeweller haunted me impatiently and said the undead lord still lives and he demanded me to go there or he would squeeze the life out of me. It was then I understood I had some sort of time limit before my Paladin would be lost.

What would YOU have done ?

I had to google this part up and it was obvious this is one the worst things you could do early on in the game. It is way too hard to fulfill that quest at this stage so my paladin is lost. I thought about quitting the game right here but decided to do one more try by reloading an old save and avoid this jeweller for now. I am glad I did because the game started to grow on me afterwards.

My next exploration in the village was the mansion and the village mayor. He was obviously a puppet for Strahd himself (the ruler of this land) and told me that Strahd had invited me and gave me an introduction letter. In the room he already had an elven guest and after we had spoke for awhile I recruited her to my group. It turned out she was a mage as well. I have no clue wether experience points is divided between the parytmembers or not so until that is confirmed, the more the better. 

After I had explored the mansion and picked up some scrolls in the library I was ready to accept the invitation to visit Strahd Zarovich. Now a cutscene took over showing the carriage taking me to Strahds castle. This is a nice touch in the game and all texts are spoken as well which adds much to the atmosphere.





Suddenly I was inside the gates at the castle. I could not explore it since guards where everwhere. The only way forward was to the dining hall where I med Strahd Zarovich for the first time. He was polite and told me in no uncertain terms that there is no way to leave these lands. However there was rumoured to exists some teleporters which he wanted me to investigate in the caves west of Barovia village and since he hadn´t the time himself and trusted us he gave us a key to enter those.



Then he invited us to a splendid dinner with the best wine of the country before letting the driverless carriage return us to the village. And here I was again. At least with a clear goal again. Now things started to get more interesting and I decided to head for the caves so we left the village through the western gate and entered a wilderness. We where immediately attacked by skeleton bats but this time I found that the easiest thing to fight anything in the game is to just clicking on them and all available weapons will attack in their order of readiness. Now the combats actually was managable and I could get rid of dozens of skeleton bats withouth much trouble.

The only interesting place in the wilderness was a house with a mage that had made it to his permanent residence. He was interested in joining us but since I already had my party at full strength I declined. Instead I found the entrance to the caves to the west but also a new NPC woman who was also in search of those caverns. She could also join us but I refused this time as well and decided to enter the caves with the key Strahd had given us. 





This underground cavern turned out to be huge and hard to navigate. Not only because it was filled will teleporters and disorienting squares but it was also filled of skeletons. Those where, however, easily disposed of but before I entered the main area yet another NPC showed up. A strong warrior who I decided to replace my first multiclass fighter/thief/mage aquaintance. If not only because I now didn´t have as much strugge in combat as before when I had to rely almost solely on magic. He was a fighter at level 7 and quite competent so he is with me for the time being.



Death comes often in this game
Attacking skeleton

I have to say that I end this post with a better understanding and a more positive view of the game than after my last post. Combat is more managable now and the story have developed. I also love the cutscenes and the dialogues with the NPC:s and from the group members. Those texts are really well written, like reading a fantasy book. 

This cave however is hard to navigate and all teleporters are not activated or functional while othere require keys. I haven´t found a single key yet and I have searched everywhere. My worst nightmare is if there are illusionary walls here because frankly, in a free roaming, slow moving game like this it would take ages to search the walls and that is just too boring and tedious with the little time I have to spare. I might look up a map of this place to help me out if I don´t find anything soon.

I would imagine that at the time in 1994 this game would be a really good RPG. Too bad the graphics is not coming to its best to be played in fullscreen. I sometimes play it in a very small window just to try to understand what I actually see on the screen.

I was very near to quit this game when I found out about the irreversible possession you get from the jeweller ghost. I had no motivation to reload an old save game. I even let my possessed character be killed in order to use a scroll of raise dead to see if I could get rid of the possession but with no success. Anyway, I am glad I did give it another chance so I could progress a little more in the story. Let´s see if the labyrinths and dungeons of the game will be the irritating part that will destory my progress.....