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Eschalon: Book II Review at Gamebanshee

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Eschalon: Book II Review at Gamebanshee

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 19 August 2013, 13:50:38

Tags: Basilisk Games; Eschalon: Book II

In the anticipation of Eschalon: Book III's upcoming release, Gamebanshee offers a review of Eschalon: Book II. It feels like a slightly schizophrenic text to me, personally, because even though the reviewer recommends the game, it doesn't sound like it has much to offer at all -- and myself, I don't really feel like playing the game after reading this review. But anyway, have some snippets and judge for yourself:

The campaign in Book I took place entirely in Thaermore. In Book II you get a little more variety. You start out in the Human lands of Mistfell, and then you visit the Dwarves in Nor'land before finally taking on the Taurax in Amireth. Each region has a different look, and there are roughly 50% more map zones in Book II than Book I, making the campaign roughly 50% longer as well (30 hours versus 20 hours).

That's the good news. The bad news is that the world in Book II is far less interesting than in Book I. In Book I you'd almost always find a quest NPC or an ambush or a secret chest when exploring a map, but in Book II you mostly only encounter creatures to kill -- although, continuing with the theme, there are 50% more types of enemies around, so at least you get more variety in what you face off against. The maps get especially bad at the end of the game when you explore a large frozen lake and some grasslands. These areas cover about ten maps but they're flat and boring, and they have maybe five places of interest between them. The endgame maps look like they're just placeholders waiting for the real maps to come in.

[...] The quests in Book II are of about the same quality as in Book I. That is, they're on the simple side where you mostly just need to find an object, talk to somebody, or kill something. Every so often you have to make a decision for how to complete a quest -- like when you meet two people, each of whom claims the other is a lycanthrope -- but for most of the quests you just receive experience points or gold at the end. Surprisingly, despite the 50% theme elsewhere, Book II has roughly the same number of quests as Book I, which helps to explain why some of the map zones feel sort of empty.

[...] One of the complaints about Book I was that combat was too simple. For melee and ranged characters, you pretty much just clicked on an enemy until it was dead, and only magic characters got some variety since they could choose their spells. In Book II, Basilisk Games tried to make combat more interesting, but I don't think the changes had much of an effect. The first change is that you can now choose a combat mode, including normal, power (more damage but less accuracy), finesse (more accuracy but less damage), and parry (which gives a bonus to armor but prevents you from attacking). These modes have their place -- for example, you might switch to parry mode when charging at a ranged enemy -- but I pretty much just stayed with the normal mode.

Then there are weapon feats. Once you advance a weapon skill to rank 10, a special attack becomes available. For Swords, this attack always hits, and it allows you to parry all attacks during the following turn. For Bows, the attack deals 3X damage. When you first get a weapon feat, it takes about 30 turns for it to recharge, but if you keep adding points to the weapon skill, then you can reduce this cooldown to every 4-5 turns. Weapon feats give you something extra to do in combat, which is good, but some of them are too powerful, which is bad. When I played a Bows character, I attacked with the feat, and in the rare cases when that didn't kill my enemy outright, I just retreated for a few turns until I could use the feat again. My Bows character cruised through the game while my Swords character struggled a little, and my Magick User came in somewhere in the between the two.​

Read the review in full here.

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