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Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is fucking great

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by JarlFrank, Mar 1, 2018.

  1. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Ok, completed the game:

    [​IMG]


    Cheesed my way through it as expected. I didn't have Wall of Fire/Dust Cloud, and Wall of Fog didn't seem to work well, so I tried Cloud of Fog instead (level 2 Preserver spell). With it's much larger area of no LOS, worked much better. Was able to separate the massive enemy army into smaller waves and bottleneck them through the narrow corridor in the northeast of the map. Even that took a bunch of tries on Balanced Difficulty, because many reloads, their defilers/psionists would just kill off half my party before I could even escape northeast. But finally worked, and I even used the last wish of the genie to rest the party.


    Final Thoughts:

    - Great world interactivity and player agency
    - Incredibly bad combat, possibly the worst DnD implementation I've ever played in a computer game, the first 99% of the game is a cakewalk with gladiators ripping through everything, then the final battle which is insanely broken.
    - Graphics and UI have obviously not aged well
    - Story/writing starts out strong but then peters out into repetitive stuff and/or silly fantasy
    - Exploration was great at the time, but now due to UI/controls, not as much fun.

    Overall, I can see this game being something special in 1993, but today it's much more of a mixed bag, and I am not sure I would whole-heartedly recommend it for a playthrough, unlike say Ultima Underworld.
     
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  2. Ol' Willy Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Zionist Agent

    Ol' Willy
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    I hate to do that, but I partially agree with PorkyThePaladin. Final battle ramps up the difficulty very drastically: you go from curbstomping trash mobs of pathetic Templar infantry to fighting elite Templar soldiers; more so, they come in numbers never seen before. Add more defilers than you have ever encountered before and even some hard-ass scorpos to spice the action. There's no middle ground - you go from curbstomping to cheesing in no time.

    Of course, I'm not whining about it being impossible or requiring meta, I was victorious in two runs without a single Gladiator or Preserver, but oh boy, do AoE spells really necessary there...
     
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  3. Broseph Fabulous Hoosier Patron

    Broseph
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    Bros, I'm playing this for the first time and I'm in the sewer. I just saved the Tari tribe from the attack on the elders and I got the directions to the sewer exits. I'd been pwning everything up to this point with my party (mostly thanks to Thri Kreen gladiator) but these fucking Tyrian slimes are totally raping me. I can take one at a time, but not 4 or 5. Any tips for dealing with the slimes?

    My party:
    Elf Ranger/Preserver/Thief
    Half-Elf Fighter/Druid/Preserver
    Mul Fighter/Druid/Thief
    Thri Kreen Gladiator

    Also, I need to rest and I can't figure out how to do it. The manual says something about a fire ring that will appear when you're in a safe place to rest, but as far as I can tell there's nowhere in the sewers that's safe, even though I've cleared out the enemies from most of it.
     
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  4. Ol' Willy Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Zionist Agent

    Ol' Willy
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    If you mean Dagolar's lair, fireplace will appear only after you've culled him. Way back to sewers is closed and will open only after that. DS is not always easy, lol.

    Talking regular sewers, there's a fireplace somewhere in the barracks of friendly ratmen, look closer. I may do a screenshot later this evening.

    Speaking about slimes, there's some useful Psionic ability to switch them off, but you lack dedicated psionic... You have three spellcasters, look at available buffs pre-fight and some offensive spells.
     
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  5. Darth Canoli Magister

    Darth Canoli
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    Show Spoiler
    Run, you fool!


    Buff the gladiator to the teeth and hope for the best, the final battle against Dagolar at this point is really tough.
     
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  6. Broseph Fabulous Hoosier Patron

    Broseph
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    I'm talking about the sewers in the beginning of the game, if it wasn't clear. Still haven't found any place to rest. :(
     
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  7. Darth Canoli Magister

    Darth Canoli
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    Got it but i don't remember having to face 4 slimes there before Dagolar's Lair which is in this very sewers.

    I know it's not helpful but i had a half-giant gladiator (double HP) to tank and a psionicist (single class) with a couple of nice tricks.
    3 x tri-classed characters is really pushing it too far, i had a rogue/preserver and a cleric/?? (fighter maybe).
    It worked just fine but i remember a couple of deaths, so either i reloaded or you get your party members back after the fight, i don't remember.
     
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  8. Broseph Fabulous Hoosier Patron

    Broseph
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    With a little luck I was able to defeat the slimes and the guards further north, then backtracked to find the camping spot in the ratmen barracks. Then I was outside the sewer in the area with all the crops. Shortly after, I broke the bone wall to the east and ended up in the desert. Never encountered Dagolar, so I'm guessing it's entirely optional? From what I'm reading it's recommended to return later in the game for that fight.
     

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  9. Ol' Willy Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Zionist Agent

    Ol' Willy
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    1) Dagolar's lair is tough, but accessible at any time; indeed you may return there any time you want. Although, getting inside is a puzzle in itself
    2) don't sell any big jems, lol
     
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  10. DevinJordan Barely Literate

    DevinJordan
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    Joined just to comment on this thread.

    Shattered Lands is an amazing game. I would also mostly agree with PorkyThePaladin, although I would like to comment on his final thoughts:

    - Still one of the best world interactivity of any game I've ever played. Almost every area has a secret, like that oasis where if you plant a seed pod a druid appears and thanks you and gives you quest items. Or when, after the final battle, new npcs appear in the villages!

    - The combat isn't great, but I like it a lot more than the first- person SSI games like Menzoberranzan or Strahd's Possession, where you're just clicking away mindlessly in the middle of the screen.
    Shattered Lands is so incredibly easy that I remember all the hard fights off the top of my head in order of appearance.

    1) Staying in the arena too long
    2) Fighting Dagolar at a low level with shitty equipment. To skip fighting his slimes, and for a fun bit of poetic justice, have a party member with high dexterity and some leftover movement points (like a thri-kreen) play the organ in Dagolar's chamber during the fight.
    3) Entering your first desert area and stumbling over a pod of 6 bulettes
    4) Fighting the wyverns when you first enter Cedrilte and they one-hit poison kill you
    5) Fighting Balkazar when you're like me and were too stupid to figure out what his Focus was, so every time you hit him he just summons more Babau
    6) The Final Battle

    Honorable Mention - Wyrmias smashing you with all four of his arms.

    Shattered Lands was so easy that I decided to solo it as an Elf Fighter/Mage, which I was only able to do with some pretty serious meta-knowledge (for the final battle I was equipped with El's Drinker, the Terror Blade, and Tanelyv's armor, and I think I used the genie to rest partway through the fight to get my spells back).

    Here's a solid article on combat encounter design written by Lilura1 that should be sent to every game designer in the world:
    https://lilura1.blogspot.com/2020/0...hnical-Terms-Combat-Encounter-Design-CED.html

    - The graphics aren't anything to marvel at, but the art design is incredible. The gleaming sands, the glowing lava, the creepy statues and skeletons everywhere, the shadows with Hello Kitty ears . . .

    The interface, especially the right-click to cycle through common interface options, is something that I'd like to see more of in games.

    - The story of uniting the villages is a little repetitive. It would have been cool to have some quests into Draj, maybe to sabatoge the army or steal their plan of attack (this would have helped the uselessness of thieves as well).

    - Not sure how much more convenient you can make the UI/controls for exploration - at least you move quickly over the terrain, unlike other games where your party moves at the speed of Ambien (I'm looking at you, Baldur's Gate).

    All in all this game is in my top 5 RPGs, and its setting is so unique I would recommend a run through for the atmosphere alone.
     
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  11. Ol' Willy Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Zionist Agent

    Ol' Willy
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    Lilura considers Dark Sun "fossilized shit" or somesuch
    This is not even in the guides online. I was just charming them and it's funny since they can't damage each other
     
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  12. Butter Arcane

    Butter
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  13. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Dark Sun >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Baldur's Gay.

    Cold hard fact.
     
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  14. DevinJordan Barely Literate

    DevinJordan
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    Fossilized shit? That's too bad, I would call that a clear case of evaluating a game entirely based on their own likes and dislikes. Which is natural, but not helpful for anyone else who wants to know if they should try a game out or not.

    I never finished Planescape: Torment because of its awful inventory management and combat systems, but if that's not a big deal for you, then you might enjoy it's amazing writing, world, and characters . . . and you would have to pay me money to get me to play a game like Myst or Riven, but some people like random puzzles.

    Charming slimes and watching them ineffectually beat on each other is hilarious.
     
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  15. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Dark Sun: SL has better world interactivity, puzzles, and C&C.

    Baldur's Gate has better writing, combat, and obviously vastly better graphics and UI.

    Exploration is a toss up, both are good, just in different ways.

    Overall I would say BG1 is much better as a whole.
     
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  16. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I'm a BG hater. I don't think BG has "better writing." It has more writing and more characterization, but the setting is dumb and cliche, the characters are dumb and/or cliche, and there is so much writing that even if it is technically better than DS:SL's writing, I'd rather have a little bit of functional writing than a lot of more-than-functional-but-still-sophomoric writing. DS:SL's writing got the job done, and that job was drawing you into an alien, intriguing, and very reactive world. BG1's writing also got the job done, and that job was making you feel like you were inside a second-tier Dragonlance novel. As between the two, I would take the former.
     
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  17. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    Not a fan of "my inn as as clean as an elven arse!", eh? BG had a good mix of charming low level banter and pretty decent by RPG standards high level plot. It's not as good at that as the best in genre (e.g. PST, Witcha games, etc), but pretty decent overall, imo.

    Dark Sun started strong with an original setting, but the writing very quickly fizzles out. So I can't really credit it much in that area.
     
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  18. Darth Canoli Magister

    Darth Canoli
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    With Diablo (which isn't a RPG but posed as one), BG is the game that brought the dumb masses to the CRPG genre, they started the movement bethesda, obsidian and ubisoft are milking as much as they can.

    I don't hate BG even if i hate what it represents.
    Yeah, it's low tier fantasy in a bland settings and RTwP combat but so many games did even worse, starting from BG2...

    On the other hand, Dark Sun brought a great settings to life, had a great quest design and if it feels like it's lacking from 2020 stardards, it's still doing most thing better than recent CRPG so just imagine playing it on release, it was just a masterpiece.
     
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  19. Ladonna Arcane

    Ladonna
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    While I like Dark Sun as a game, it really killed SSI. Pretty sure even the final Goldbox games sold more than Dark Sun. And the sequel sold even less. SSI pretty much squandered all of their capital they had built up into the Dark Sun engine. When it didn't pay off, it was curtains. This was a familiar story with all of the medium sized developer/publishers during the early to mid 90's getting squeezed by advertisement hikes, shelf space in retail stores, and publishing costs.

    Was Dark Sun ahead of its time? Was it under advertised? Was nobody interested in the setting? I was still using an Amiga, so it didn't appear on my radar. And when I got a PC a year later, it wasn't for sale in any of the stores, and didn't get a later budget release (at least I couldn't find it) like Ultima VII, Ultima Underworld and so on. Sad.
     
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  20. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Game had serious bugs, which didn't help, and varied the formula which probably turned off some fans. I wouldn't be surprised if the box art deterred parents from buying the game for their kids. While I really liked the art style, it probably didn't look very good compared to games like Lands of Lore, Betrayal at Krondor, Ultima Underworld 2, etc. This was right when CD-Rom games like Myst, etc. were taking off, and while DS:SL had a CD-Rom option, it didn't actually have any of the bells and whistles (FMV, "high resolution" graphics, etc.). I'd say it was a game both far ahead of its time (anticipating Fallout by four years) and kind of behind the times (in terms of polish). I don't know that players really got what it was offering. And the weird fetish-style box art (like the weird PS:T box art) probably deterred people from jumping in.
     
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  21. BING XI LAO Age of Wonders fanboy Patron

    BING XI LAO
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    Played a little way myself and encountered a fairly major bug. Still, I'm not TOO unhappy about being able to kill Dagolar twice, for two helpings of his special loot and two helpings of the 12,000 xp reward.
     
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  22. Desiderius Found your egg, Robinett, you sneaky bastard Patron

    Desiderius
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    Insert Title Here Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Having basically no on screen UI was mind-blowing at the time. It's been one of the harder games for me to get back into just due to the sheer number and redundancy in the Spells/Psionics.
     
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  23. bandersnatch Prospernaut Dumbfuck

    bandersnatch
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    This right here. Oh that sweet sweet pixel sand. Dark Sun rocks the mic. :dance:
     
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  24. Pink Eye Monk Patron

    Pink Eye
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    That's why ya gotta read the manual. Most things are controlled by hot keys. It's like Knights of the Chalice. C is for spellcasting. A is for turning animations off. I is for inventory, and V is for character sheet - there are other keys too, but this is to illustrate; that the UI is controlled by the keyboard. I have Chalice hotkeys memorized thanks to Dark Sun. Because the controls are a straight port of Dark Sun.
     
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  25. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    I think the bugs were a big reason. It took me years to try out the game after hearing about its existence in the mid-00s (I only played it in the 2010s) because whenever people talked about it in forums (including here), bugs were mentioned as a major caveat. Things like "There's a game-breaking bug that will make you unable to finish the game and you won't see it coming!"
    That kind of narrative really puts you off, because who wants to invest dozens of hours into a CRPG only to be stuck due to some game-breaking bug?

    Nowadays we have the internet and can read spoilery hint pages to learn how to avoid game-breaking bugs. We can also easily download patches within a minute. Open browser, open patch link, download patch, install. Easy. I still got a German patch archive website bookmarked (patches-scrolls) which collects various patches for dozens of games.

    But back in 93? Few people had internet, and even if you had it, downloading even just a 1MB patch would have been terror on your connection. Distributing patches was a much more difficult affair, sometimes they were distributed on disks, which would cost the dev more money. Releasing a game with potentially game-breaking bugs was a death sentence once people heard about it.

    When I played Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, I didn't encounter many bugs, the narrative was a bit exaggerated. There's only one endgame-breaker but that's easy to avoid as long as you explore everything and pick stuff up.
    But the sequel truly was a bugfest. Even today you're better off playing it with a walkthrough so you know how to avoid the several game-breaking bugs that infest the game. Wake of the Ravager was such a bugfest, nowadays people would expect this to be an Early Access title.
    But there was no "Early Access" in the 90s. If your 1.0 release was a bug-ridden mess, you were fucked. And it's common knowledge that WotR was a bug-ridden mess.
     
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