Friday, 18 April 2014

SanctuaryRPG is brilliant!

Before I launch into today's post, I have to give a special shout out to Tony, who made the funniest comment about my last blog post (to set the scene, I was talking about Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS, and how they seem to have a lot of dead marines in Norfolk - which in the UK is a rural place that likes growing asparagus)

Tony commented:

"Grab your gear!"
"Asparagus snatchers again, boss?"

I read it when going to bed and laughed.  And every time I read it again I smile.  I love the vision of Gibbs marching into the office, and McGee/DiNozzo suggesting that asparagus rustlers are on the loose (followed up with the inevitable headslap).  Thanks Tony!

Today we're going to take a look at SanctuaryRPG, a turn-based text adventure by indie studio Black Shell Games. Now, I have to say, I don't like text adventures. They conjure up for me visions of hours getting more and more frustrated, typing commands such as "go north", "inventory", "open door", "unlock door", and "hack the god damn locked door into little pieces with my sword"

But this is different.

Yes, it involves a bit of keyboard action, it's basically the first game that I've played for ages that doesn't involve the mouse. And you know what?

Not a problem.

It's a massive sword.  Not a euphemism.

Without going too much into the plot detail, you're sent off to deal with The Matron, an all-round bad person, who was taken on years ago by Cyrus the Magnificent (yes, really), but, as in all good stories, The Matron is back and it's down to you to save the day.

Here's Cyrus!  He has a seriously pointy nose.
The game involves a huge amount of combat with all kinds of different monsters, from skeletons to bandits, as well as boss creatures, awesome loot, and some fantastic storylines and dialogue. Will you give Lyssa the rose? Or inject her with a poison? And more importantly, will you restock her bar and get her patrons some beer?

The combat system has enough complexity in it to make it interesting, but without having an infinite number of tactics to choose from. You can link attacks up to deliver some serious damage in a combo, but meanwhile your enemy will be beating on you, and generally causing a pain of themselves, so you need to think about whether to go for the damage, or whether to heal yourself up before they finish you off.  I found that it's easy to learn and before long you're able to deliver a wide variety of attacks and the like.

There are a ton of different items to collect, and other diversions such as quests, the arena, not to mention chatting up the barmaid.  It almost feels a little bit like World of Warcraft in that you can properly get involved in things that aren't anything to do with fighting - if you want to spend your time upgrading the bar, ordering booze and serving people drinks, you can!

The ASCII graphics and 8-bit soundtrack are a blast from the past, and made me think of the likes of ZZT and Ultima 4, two games that I absolutely loved when growing up.

Oh dear.

Can I add that you do really feel it when your character dies, especially when you're on classic mode, and there's no recovering the dead character.  All hail the fallen barbarian Thog - I knew him well.

I strongly recommend that you get over to now and pick up a copy of this bad boy. You won't be disappointed.

For more information catch my live play video of SanctuaryRPG on my YouTube Channel (or watch it below!)

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