Review — Dragon Age: Inquisition

This is the only Dragon Age game I have ever played, first off. I’ve also never played any of the Mass Effect, and have relatively little experience with games that are heavily impacted based on the choices you make. I have no idea what even compelled me to try this game, and admittedly it was quite some time ago when I did play it, but man this game is amazing.

First off, whenever I play a large role-playing game like this, the character I create is always one based on one in my own universe, Nacre Then. I like going through the character creator and making my imagination fit the screen, and when I do play I like deciding options based on what that character would do. So in that sense, there’s no real choice involved, but to me it makes it even more compelling.

The functionality of this game is pretty much flawless. I love the UI, the combat, and especially the aesthetics of the landscapes and world. It isn’t every day you find a game where all of the armor looks awesome, and there are almost too many options once you get into the game. Crafting your own gear and deciding what the color and texture of everything is is a little daunting, since the possibilities are almost endless.

Whenever I play these sorts of games, I always try to set myself up for a challenge and play on the harder difficulties. I can’t remember what the difficulty scale of this game is, or if there was a “Legendary” mode, but I played on Hard and man, it starts getting really unforgiving. I would actually put this as a point in its favor, though, because I love saving before a battle and trying to plan out what is going to happen as if I’m solving a puzzle.

The best/worst thing about this game, though, is that it made me want to do everything. There are three classes: warrior, rogue, and mage, and each class has the more subclasses. When I played, my character was a mage (of course), and when I unlocked the choice of which subclass I wanted to pick, I wanted all of them. Now, if I play again, I’ll be compelled not to play a mage again, because I’ll be experiencing the same content, but I still want to play those two subclasses I never got to see! (It’s worth noting that you can play every character in the party beyond your character, “The Inquisitor”, and that those characters unlock subclasses as well, but its just not the same when it’s not you.)

These are my two major criticisms for the game, even if they’re small. The first is that the crafting system gets tedious. You find common materials you don’t need everywhere, but if you don’t pick them up you’ll run out. On top of that, the rare stuff can only be found in specific places. They’re not “rare”, really, because it’s not randomly generated. If you can’t find them, you’re simply in the wrong place.

My second critique is that while unique, “Epic” armor is in the game, it doesn’t compare to crafting your own gear later on. When you make your own armor, you can choose all the stats you want, so it’s always far better than even good uniques that you literally had to kill a specific dragon for. It’s a little disheartening when you complete a daunting challenge only to find the reward is useless.

As a side note, this is one of very few games that gave me chills during a cutscene. Even without knowing these characters from past games, there was one specific moment that really immersed me into the world, and it was awesome. (I won’t say what it was, though, because it’s sort of a spoiler, but it does happen relatively early on in the game.)

Review — Stories: The Path of Destinies (350)

Stories: The Path of Destinies is a choose your own adventure, rogue-like rpg game where Reynardo, a rebel fox, tries to defeat the evil emperor. Now, I’ve seen pretty mixed reviews about this game, and it certainly does have very clear flaws, but I had a lot of fun with it, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who likes rogue-like adventure games, especially if they have a free evening and don’t know how to spend it.

I’m going to go off track a little here and talk about it’s flaws first. None of them are big, but they do add up and leave a bad taste. The first is the name of this game. Indie games thrive on being memorable, and this is the least noticeable name in the universe. It’s like they got the three most used names in the entire gaming community and found a way to use all three in the title. Now, obviously I’m exaggerating here, and the name does suit the game once you understand what’s going on, but this game would be much more prevalent if it’s name was noticeable.

Second, while the combat is one of my favorite things about this game: it’s hard. Specifically, there is no ‘invincibility’ timer that makes you immune for a second after you get hit. This means that if multiple enemies attack you at once and you don’t dodge the attacks, you can instantly die even if you have full health. Also, since this game has very specific camera angles, there will be instances where you literally cannot see some enemies, and thus can’t know when to time a counterattack if they strike.

Lastly, this game is a bit glitchy and doesn’t have the amount of polish I’d like. There are instances where I got my character stuck and had to start the mission over again, or found a way to walk off the map. The narrator in the story can also be redundant, repeating something he just said in the previous sentence. This doesn’t happen a whole lot, though. And that’s it. That’s everything bad about this game.

Everything else is awesome. You choose your own adventure, selecting different objectives to pursue and, as the story progresses, trying to piece together a way to win. Once you play for about an hour and complete an ‘ending’, which will be bad, you start over. The narrator gives you the same choices, but the voice acting changes because now you know how one side of the story ends. You can choose to go down that same path and make it end differently, or you can take an entirely different approach.

Going back to the beginning of the game never feels like starting over. You keep all your weapons, power ups, and levels, and because the narration changes depending on what your character knows, the story is always different, even if you do the same thing twice. You can make new swords, and this gives you access to different areas of the map. This game is so dynamic that even if you make the same exact actions over and over again, you can always experience new things.

The combat is simple, and one of the most controversial things about the game. I personally loved it. It runs the same way as Batman, Assassin’s Creed, or Shadow of Mordor, where you have a circle of people that you have to counter while attacking. In this game, though, you can grab people and throw them off ledges or into other enemies, stunning both. You can pull people towards you with a hook, and dash to get away or get up close. It isn’t easy. I like to consider myself good at this sort of thing, and I died a lot. Luckily, you can spend points in the skill tree to compensate for what you’re bad at (making your attacks do more damage, giving yourself more time to react, or giving your character more health to name a few).

I will give a minor spoiler here, but I feel like everybody should know this going into the game: The true, correct ending to this game is unattainable at first. There are twenty five different endings, and while twenty-four are bad, you need to ‘beat the game’ four times and unlock four truths before the ‘true ending’ is revealed. It’s a good ending, and it makes use of all the previous times you played it, so I wasn’t disappointed. This game has a ton of replay-ability, and even though I’ve unlocked everything and found the ‘true ending’, I wouldn’t mind jumping back in and playing through some paths I haven’t tried, which is most of them. If this game sounds interesting at all, I recommend you check it out. Maybe watch some gameplay of it on YouTube.

 

Review — Sunless Sea

Have you ever played a game where the story was hinted at but never the focus of the game? In many single-player games, like Bioshock, or TransistorPortal, etc., you could get through the entire game without paying any attention at all to the story, regardless of how in-depth or thought provoking it may be. I tend to enjoy those games for the gameplay first, and then appreciate the story later. I’ve never been a huge fan of games that require you to know what’s going on, like Myst, because the story-driven games never seem to have interesting stories to compel me to continue.

Sunless Sea is a different story. It combines a lot of elements I love in games: slow progression and upgrades, a rogue-like “start-over with a push forward” theme, and a merciless drive to bring the player onto its knees through harsh and unforgiving rules. But when I bring up this game to other people, I set all of these aside, because in the end its not what this game is about. Sunless Sea is a story-driven, “choose your own adventure” game in a Lovecraftian setting.

In this game, you can choose the way you want to play. You can be a seafaring pirate that attacks anyone on sight, a wealthy merchant ferrying goods (often illegal and unsavory) across the seas to dangerous lands, or a scholar, trying to discover everything about this strange and vast world.

Very few games have made me feel a sense of adventure: like I’m exploring distant and strange lands, in the same way Sunless Sea does. I can find myself on distant shores and stumble upon vast treasures, only to realize I’ll have to spend most of it if I want to ensure a safe journey home.

This game is all about risk and reward. It forces you to take risks without telling you what’s at stake or even what the consequences will be. In a way this can be a little frustrating, but it adds to the feeling that this place is a real world, and in this place is real and it emulates how we often make judgments and important decisions based on the limited information and resources we have available.

I do have two major gripes with this game. The first is that there is a lot going on. The screen has a lot of information that takes time to study in order to understand what you’re looking at, and the interface is never as streamline as I would like it to be. You do learn what’s going on eventually, but the game doesn’t do a great job at telling you on its own.

But my biggest qualm with this game is that after thirty hours of playtime, I still don’t feel like I’ve made it very far. I’ve explored all these vast and interesting places, but I don’t feel as though I’ve made an impact on the world, and I don’t feel like the time I’ve spent has amounted to anything. For example, the boat I currently have is the third largest one available to buy, and the other two might as well not exist for how expensive they are and how savvy I am with trading and the economy.

I’d imagine there’s something about the game that I have simply yet to learn, but the world feels pretty much as mysterious and unknowable as it did when I first discovered all these islands, locales, and ports. In a way, that’s a good thing. It definitely makes me want to keep playing. The game is beautifully crafted, and there’s so much going on that I don’t feel as though I’ve even scratched the surface of how deep this world is. Depth like that is good, but too much makes it daunting.

Story — Legendary Pt. 2 (335)

(This week’s audio recording: “A Big Disovery”, is the first sneak peak into the primal world of Naya, where civilization is confined by small cities protected from wild beasts by large walls.)

Writing Prompt: In a world where everything from clothes to tools to mundane objects has RPG-like stats and rarities, you become the first person to acquire a legendary item. Before you read this, it’s important that I point out that this is the first time I’m putting a content warning on anything I’ve written. This has more crass language and not for younger readers. This will never be the norm, I just want to make sure I consistently try new things.

 

“What do you mean I’m gorgeous?” I asked. I looked down at myself. I didn’t feel any different, at least.

“I mean front cover of GQ gorgeous.” Alex scanned me up and down, still awestruck. After a moment, she grimaced slightly. “If you had a wardrobe change, that is.”

Without replying, I left the kitchen and went down the hall, walking into the bathroom and flicking the light on.

The man that stood opposite me in the mirror bore only a shadow of a resemblance to the Danny I knew. I still had the same features, larger build, unruly black hair, and a field of stubble on my cheeks, but it was somehow better. I had gone from out of shape to looking fit. My hair wasn’t messy, it was charming. My stubble wasn’t disheveled, it was sexy. My simple t-shirt and jeans no longer looked lazy, but inviting. I looked exactly the same and yet completely different.

“Some ring you found there,” Alex continued, looking into the mirror from the hallway behind me. “That thing isn’t just something of extraordinary quality. It’s flat-out magic. Girls would kill to sleep with that body.”

“Is that a come-on?” I smirked.

She scoffed at that. “Hardly. Hot guy or no, you’re still an asshole.” It was a disappointing but unsurprising answer.

“Here, you put it on,” I said, taking the ring off and holding my hand up. Taking it off felt a little draining, as if I had lost a piece of myself I had never known was missing.

Alex frowned, staring at my outstretched hand. Hesitantly, she took it and stepped into the bathroom. She didn’t put it on, but kept turning it over in her hand, as if looking for something.

“What are you waiting for?” I had thought she would jump at the chance to be drop dead gorgeous. She already was pretty attractive, but not supermodel stunning.

She took a deep breath and slipped the ring onto her finger.

I felt my eyes widened as her body shifted, transforming subtly into a more beautiful version of herself. Her stomach grew less prominent, her shoulders held more confidence, her chest rounded out, and her jaw angled slightly differently. Her wardrobe of a simple blouse and leggings seemed less like she threw them on before getting ready for work and more like they were tailored to perfectly match her form. Or be torn off entirely. I couldn’t quite tell.

“Woah,” I breathed. She looked like the same Alex I knew, except this was an Alex that had won the genetic lottery. Her body was still the same, but now she looked like a more ‘finished product’, in the same way I had.

“This is incredible,” she said. She was still staring into the mirror.

“I’ll say.”

“Oh, keep your pants on.” She turned to face me. “Danny.”

“Yeah?”

“You’re staring at my boobs even more than usual,” she chided. “And you’re not even trying to be discreet about it.”

Honestly I was so mesmerized I hadn’t even noticed. I snapped out of it. “Can you blame me?”

“I guess not,” she grinned, self-satisfied. She adjusted herself as she twisted around, fixing her shirt and looking back into the mirror. “It’s amazing. I don’t really feel any different but I bet if I walked into work like this I would get a promotion on the spot.”

She took the ring off, and as she did, the glow that had all but enveloped her seemed to fade, and just as her body started to resemble her old self, she put it back on.

“Alex?” I asked, frowning.

“I want to wear it a little longer,” she stated.

I wanted to protest, but I couldn’t. My base desire to look at her like this won over my apprehension at letting her keep the ring. I nodded dumbly.

I noticed a very faint blue shimmer as she started to walk out, and thought occurred to me. “Wait,” I said, grabbing her arm. She stopped, confused. I held my Appraiser bracelet to her chest, scanning her shirt.

“What the hell are you doing?” Alex asked.

“Hold still!” I demanded. When I finished scanning the blouse, my bracelet read ‘Rare. Elegant: +20% Form-fitting. Cozy: +15% Comfort.‘ Her shirt, which was presumably a common piece of clothing, was now considered ‘Rare’.

I showed her the readings, and she read it over twice in obvious disbelief. “So this ring doesn’t just make you stunning, it increases the quality of items you’re wearing?”

“Take it off,” I said.

“Excuse me?” she challenged, holding an arm up defensively.

“I meant the ring,” I amended. “Just for a minute.”

She relaxed and took the ring off again. Her entire body seemed to deflate slightly as her radiance became less assertive.

I scanned her blouse again. ‘Common.

“It’s back to normal quality,” I confirmed.

Alex left the bathroom. I followed behind her. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I want to see if this works on everything,” she said.

Returning to the counter where I had opened the package, she picked up the ‘Uncommon’ knife I had left on the counter. She slipped the ring down the handle. It was too loose to fit, so she held it level. “Scan the knife now,” she directed.

I did. ‘Epic. Very Sharp: +80% Ease of Cutting. Permanence: -100% Dull Rate. Pristine: Stays Clean 100% longer.

I had never seen an item with a higher quality than ‘Rare’ before. Well, before today. I had no idea the stats on an item could get that high.

“This knife is the same quality as the Crown Jewels,” I murmured.

“I don’t give a shit about the knife,” she laughed, putting it down and holding the ring up triumphantly. “This is the most valuable thing on the planet!”

“It seems to increase an item’s quality by two tiers,” I theorized. “‘Common’ goes to ‘Rare’, ‘Uncommon’ goes to ‘Epic’. What happens when it enhances a ‘Rare’ item? The only thing above ‘Epic’ is ‘Legendary’.”

“Let’s find out,” she said, grabbing her prized ‘Rare’ hairbrush. She fit the ring onto the handle. It was too thick to fit properly, so she had to settle for holding the brush upside down so it would stay on. She leaned over me so she could read the bracelet as I scanned it.

I used my Appraiser Bracelet one more time. ‘Epic+. Efficient: -90% Brushing Time.  Saturation: Improves Health by 70%. Luscious: Makes hair 80% more luxurious and beautiful for one hour after five minutes of brushing (This effect stacks).

Her eyes twinkled with delight. “It’s decided, then!” She walked over to the sink.

“What’s decided, exactly?” I had a bad feeling about this.

“You don’t have to pay rent anymore.”

“And why is that?”

“Because you’re so generous you’re giving this ring to me!” She held it up between us, still holding it close at the same time.

“Uh, no I’m not. I could probably buy my own city with that thing, I’m sure as hell not giving it to you.”

“No, you are. It’s either that or it’s going down the garbage disposal.”

I felt a spike of adrenaline as she said that. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Sure I would. I could do amazing things with this. You’re just going to do it to get laid more than once a month. It’s no loss of value to me in either circumstance.”

“Or I could call the police,” I offered.

“And tell them your ‘Legendary’ ring was stolen? Who would believe that?” Fair point.

She took the ring and slipped it onto her finger again. As her body returned to a state of perfection, she started to unbutton her blouse.

She stepped closer to me and parted her shirt enough to expose some cleavage. Wrapping her arms around me, she leaned in and whispered, “Plus, if you’re lucky, you might still get laid more than once a month anyway.”

Story — Legendary Pt. 1

(This week’s audio recording: “Numerophobia“, is the third and newest Lisa Stenton short story. It was previously titled “More Mysteries”.)

Writing Prompt: In a world where everything from clothes to tools to mundane objects has RPG-like stats and rarities, you become the first person to acquire a legendary item. Before you read this, it’s important that I point out that this is the first time I’m putting a content warning on anything I’ve written. This has slightly more crass language, but it’s enough to need pointing out. This will never be the norm, I just want to make sure I consistently try new things.

 

The package sat on the welcome mat of the apartment, tossed there as if it was thrown by the paperboy. I frowned, my brow furrowing as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. I hadn’t ordered anything, had I? My monthly budget was still blown from snagging that Uncommon Toaster of Efficiency at the supermarket last week. I couldn’t afford to buy a whole lot of enchanted stuff with stat bonuses, but at the same time they were so much higher quality and often lasted longer, so they were a better long-term investment.

That’s what made this package so strange. There wasn’t even a name or return address.

Pushing the screen door open, I grabbed the package with both hands. It was light. Lighter than I would have expected from something the size of a small suitcase.

“Something for me this time?” my roommate, Alex, winked as she walked through the entryway brushing her too long black hair.

“No. I don’t know what it is,” I replied. “And how many times do I have to tell you the ‘Luscious Hair’ buff that brush gives you doesn’t stack? It’s not like it’ll make the rest of you beautiful.”

“Oh, shut up, asshole,” she said, leaving down the opposite hall. “I still need to brush my hair like everybody else.”

“I still can’t believe you paid eight hundred dollars for a stupid ‘Rare’ hairbrush.”

“That’s because you have no concept of the value of a dollar, Danny,” she called, voice carrying down the hall.

I didn’t dignify that comment with a response. Instead, I carried the package into the kitchen and tossed it onto the counter. I was about to make breakfast, but something about this demanded that I give it my full attention now. I had to admit I was curious. I grabbed a dinner knife from the silverware drawer, the blade shimmering green to signify its ‘Uncommon’ quality. If I remembered right, this one a ‘Sharp’ knife, meaning it had an increased sharpness stat and might as well be a normal item for how useful it was. The best trait for an item like a knife was ‘Pristine’, which meant it stayed cleaner longer.

I cut into the package, ripping it open to find bubble wrap. The more I ripped, the more bubble wrap I found. I discarded the bag and started shuffling it around, looking for whatever was inside, but couldn’t find anything. Did somebody really send me packaging as a joke?

Eventually I found a small box under the mountain of bubble wrap. I pulled the box out. It was tiny. The sort of box that people proposed with that contained a diamond ring worth more than my yearly income.

I opened the box, and inside was a simple ring. Just a band of steel, no diamonds or anything. The weird thing was, it had a yellow shimmer. What the hell?

I turned on my Appraiser Bracelet and placed the ring on the counter. I scanned it, and the screen on the Bracelet read back ‘Legendary. Stats Unknown.’ Stats unknown? My bracelet had never said that before. I went to the other side of the kitchen and scanned my new toaster. ‘Uncommon. Efficient: -20% Cooking Time.‘ I scanned the ring again. It said the same thing.

I had never seen a yellow quality item. As far as I knew, even mythical items like the Mona Lisa, the Crown Jewels, or the Liberty Bell were only ‘Epic’. Age and popularity tended to manipulate the quality and stats of an item over time. Excalibur and the Ten Commandments were rumored to be old objects that had a ‘Legendary’ quality, but the existence of such items were debatable at best, I had always assumed ‘Epic’ was the highest quality.

Alex came back into the kitchen. She was still brushing her hair. “Anything interesting?” she asked, leaning across the counter over all the bubble wrap.

Not knowing how to respond, I proffered the ring. She took it with her free hand and examined it.

“A stupid ring? That’s pretty disappointing.”

“Look at the shimmer,” I said.

“What? It just looks like a…” her eyes widened. “Holy shit!”

“My scanner says it’s ‘Legendary’.”

Her jaw was left open. Numbly, she placed it on the counter between us and scanned it herself. “Holy shit,” she said again, quiety this time. Her brow furrowed and she looked back up at me. “Stats unknown?” she asked.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” I replied. “That’s what my scanner said too.”

“Have you put it on?”

“What? Of course not!” I said.

“Well?” She flicked the ring across the counter. With a sudden panic, I grabbed it before it could slide off.

“I don’t know, what if it has a downside?”

“Come on, Danny. Why would the only ‘Legendary’ item in existence be a bad thing?”

“Irony,” I said.

Alex rolled her eyes. “Just put it on.”

I sighed. Flipping the ring around in my palms, I tried to think about who would have sent me this. Why give me the only verifiable ‘Legendary’ item in existence? If the Crown Jewels were only ‘Epic’, what could this do?

I slipped the ring onto my fingers.

Alex straightened a little as she stared at me, eyes widening again. “Oh, fuck,” she whispered.

“What, am I invisible? What happened?”

“No,” she said. “You’re gorgeous.”

Review — Path of Exile (320)

When I first played this game, a week or so after it first launched, I stopped before I even got halfway through the story. It feels so much more like a sequel to Diablo 2 than Diablo 3 ever has, but it simply wasn’t fun.

But, Diablo 3 wasn’t great when it launched, either. It’s gone through so much changes since then that it’s hardly even the same game, so I thought I might as well give Path of Exile a second chance. While it’s been too long for me to be able to explain why it was fun this time around as opposed to before, I played quite a bit of it. Around thirty hours. So, here’s the pros and cons.

Positives first. This game is (as I said) a great spiritual successor to Diablo 2. If you want a newer game that plays like that one specifically, that’s where you should start. It feels sort of retro in that sense, but at the same time the UI isn’t clunky and you can manipulate things pretty intuitively, apart from the specific part of the system that lets you see stuff on the ground.

It’s also extremely diverse. You can do anything you want in this game. Be a guy that sets everyone on fire? Sure! Be somebody that hurts everybody when he sets himself on fire? Yeah, of course. Explode everything with a single punch like the legendary hero we all know and love: One Punch Man? ONE PAAAANCH! I’m telling you you can do anything in this game, and even after thirty hours of content, I haven’t even gotten to the max level to experience the endgame yet. So I can’t even critique that part. (Another great pro to this game is that the developers are constantly working on it, changing and fixing things, updating content, that sort of stuff. I feel the need to mention that because it’s not every day you have such an active dev team working to make the best game they can.)

There are some big flaws though. The biggest one is that this game is pretty hard to get into if you don’t have other people to help you out. It is daunting in every sense of the word. For example, here is the passive skill tree.  When you level up you get a point to put somewhere here, and every little dot costs a point to obtain. Even experienced players have to look up where to branch with the characters they are currently playing!

What’s more, even when I knew what I was doing and I had people to help me figure out how to play, I still had no concept of how to quantify the quality of pieces of gear. Is this piece an upgrade? I don’t know, they each have seven stats but none of them are similar. Is a huge sack of assorted fruits better than a huge sack of assorted vegetables? That’s what it feels like. Since there’s so many different types of stats every piece of gear can roll, it’s impossible for somebody new to the game to know which one is really “better”.

All that said, the game is fun. I’ve spent all thirty of those hours playing alone just going through all the difficulties of the story (and I’m still not bored with it). It’s mindless fun, which means its the perfect game for getting a sense of progression as well as listen to audiobooks! But overall, this game is kind of bent towards people that enjoy optimizing, number crunching, and looking up strategies. It’s not meant for anyone you couldn’t easily describe a “gamer”.

Review — Diablo

The original Diablo hit its twentieth anniversary on New Year’s Eve, and my brother and I have been playing it recently so he could show me what things were like so long ago. Now, Role-playing games are definitively my favorite genre. I love killing stuff, leveling up, getting a new spell or sword, and going out to kill stronger stuff.

So, what is this grandpa of a game like for somebody that doesn’t have nostalgia for it, and how does it compare to games nowadays? In all honesty, it fairs pretty dang well. It’s (obviously) dated, but a lot of fun compared to everything else on the shelves these days, which is especially impressive considering how old it is.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this game has terrible flaws. The first boss in the game is so impossibly strong compared to every monster you fight previously, you’re basically guaranteed to get slaughtered the first time you encounter him. By the Allfather’s mercy you better hope you had saved recently. In fact, you’re bound to be so weak compared to him that the only way to kill him is to lock him in a room with bars (demons can’t open doors) and shoot arrows through the bars while he can’t hit you. Can you imagine the backlash if a new game released with such dramatic imbalances?

It’s also pretty tedious. You have to walk everywhere you go, and it probably takes about a minute to walk from certain townsfolk to important areas on the map. Why does everything have to be so far apart? Also, as a really small blunder, the interface is extremely clunky and the controls aren’t intuitive at all, but that’s to be expected in an older game.

It’s also pretty unforgiving. Now, I would actually consider this a point in its favor. I love how I can hit my teammate (though I admit to nothing), or how barrels with cool stuff in them could very easily explode and kill me outright. I think that sort of heartless “trial by fire” is something that we’ve strayed from in newer generations of gaming, and I think the community is the lesser for it. I would much rather feel accomplished when I finally beat something that was hard rather than blow through something with no concern.

There’s two things that I really like about this game. The first is the “item drop” system. I love how every item you find could be the best piece of gear in the universe or literally worse than not wearing anything. It makes finding a sword with great stats feel so awesome, because you know its going to be hours before you find a better one.

The other thing I like about the game is the spells. The magic system is extremely advanced for what I would have expected: there’s probably over spells, over half of which I don’t even know about. On that front, they’re all relatively balanced: they’re all useful in certain situations, so if you’re using them correctly you feel powerful, literally sweeping the ground in flame and killing half a dozen skeletons with one spell cast. The same skeletons that used to one shot you! Take that, jerks! I mean, your brother may be dead now because he was in the same room, but there’s always a price to be paid for overwhelming power.

So while this game is over twenty years old, it still holds up extremely well against games in the same genre, and I would attribute this mostly due to the fact that while unforgiving, it rewards those who learn its ways bountifully. And now, having played it, I’m not surprised in the slightest as to why this game has gotten the notoriety it has.