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Review Forgotten Gems: Dark Sun: Shattered Lands

VentilatorOfDoom

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Tags: Strategic Simulations, Inc.

<p>Local powergamer and pun aficionado VentilatorOfDoom loaded up DOSBox for another run at SSI's <strong><a href="http://www.mobygames.com/game/dark-sun-shattered-lands" target="_blank">Dark Sun: Shattered Lands</a></strong>.<br /></p>
<blockquote>Other than completing the main plot there are a couple of areas to explore, many of which will have a subplot or a few interesting sidequests to do. Contrary to the &ldquo;escape the arena&rdquo; solution, the violent approach isn&rsquo;t always the best. Sometimes settling a conflict peacefully gains you the best rewards. Of course, being an AD&amp;D game, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands has no skills, as diplomacy and the like, so instead of skill checks in dialogues it&rsquo;s generally up to you which course of action you choose when talking to NPCs. It&rsquo;s most likely wise to be not overly hostile; sometimes you might find unexpected allies against the Drajian army.</blockquote>
<p><br /><br /><a href="http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=210">Read on for the full review...</a></p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
 

Roguey

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Good review for a good game, thanks for all the effort.
 

mydnight

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Gog should package this with wake of the ravager. Although I was fortunate enough to buy the cd version when it first came out...
 

thesheeep

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Sceptic

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Very nice article. A few comments:

1. Thieves are very, very powerful. The key is to learn how to use backstab. IIRC the manual explains the mechanics, but it takes some practice and timing to get it working all the time. Once you do, your Fighter/Thief will most probably become your main damage-dealer by far. As for locks, there isn't a single door in the game that requiers a thief to open, but there is ONE area in the sewers that can only be accessed with a thief. Said area has a good magic axe, which will be either your first or 2nd magic weapon, so it's very useful.

2. The best way to escape the pens is to actually fall for the trap. Keep going with that thread all the way and you'll end up having to kill the templar anyway (which gives you his sword). The beauty of this is that if you do this right you don't set off the alarm. Then if you've already learned of the secret door you can escape through there. If you get to the sewers without setting off the alarm you get a HUGE XP bonus, AND you have the enchanted sword. Then of course you can come back whenever you want and clean up the pens for loot and even more XP (and to rescue Trustee of course).

3. There IS an encumbrance value, but it's hidden and you're not likely to hit it unless you have 8 full containers on your character.

4. While the game has no diplomacy skills, there are some surprising options available to your psionicist. You know a dominate spell? trying to convince this guard to leave without killing him? well guess what? you'll get the option to mind-control him into letting you through, which opens up the possibility to resolve the entire quest without a fight.

5. The first wave at the final battle is entirely optional. I hate ravagers and always skip it.

Aside from that good job.
 

VentilatorOfDoom

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Sceptic said:
1. Thieves are very, very powerful. The key is to learn how to use backstab. IIRC the manual explains the mechanics, but it takes some practice and timing to get it working all the time. Once you do, your Fighter/Thief will most probably become your main damage-dealer by far. As for locks, there isn't a single door in the game that requiers a thief to open, but there is ONE area in the sewers that can only be accessed with a thief. Said area has a good magic axe, which will be either your first or 2nd magic weapon, so it's very useful.
I know about backstabs but I didn't bother with it due to clunky mechanics.

Sceptic said:
2. The best way to escape the pens is to actually fall for the trap. Keep going with that thread all the way and you'll end up having to kill the templar anyway (which gives you his sword). The beauty of this is that if you do this right you don't set off the alarm. Then if you've already learned of the secret door you can escape through there. If you get to the sewers without setting off the alarm you get a HUGE XP bonus, AND you have the enchanted sword. Then of course you can come back whenever you want and clean up the pens for loot and even more XP (and to rescue Trustee of course).
Hey cool, I didn't know that :)

Sceptic said:
3. There IS an encumbrance value, but it's hidden and you're not likely to hit it unless you have 8 full containers on your character.
I didn't know that either, but I apparently never hit that value.

Sceptic said:
4. While the game has no diplomacy skills, there are some surprising options available to your psionicist. You know a dominate spell? trying to convince this guard to leave without killing him? well guess what? you'll get the option to mind-control him into letting you through, which opens up the possibility to resolve the entire quest without a fight.
Cool. Which quest are you referring to?

Sceptic said:
5. The first wave at the final battle is entirely optional. I hate ravagers and always skip it.
Nah, *optional* is not quite accurate, since you have to skip an El's Drinker copy which isn't an option for true bros.

Sceptic said:
Aside from that good job.
thx
 

Sceptic

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Divinity: Original Sin
VentilatorOfDoom said:
I didn't know that either, but I apparently never hit that value.
As I said it's pretty hard to hit it. Only reason I did was that I was picking up EVERYTHING, filling containers then loading them onto the same character, meaning to have him carry 12 full containers. Before I could get there I got a message about not being able to carry more (which wasn't the same as the "not enough slots" message).

Cool. Which quest are you referring to?
I think there's more than one, but the one I remember clearly is the Western oasis. You can mind-control the guard into letting you through, then go chat with the defiler and concince him to leave. You'll get the druid's thanks for helping him without having to fight at all.

This is what I love so much about this game (and something I was glad to see you point out in the review): there's a staggering number of ways to solve every single sidequest. Every time I replay the game I find new things. While there are lots of fights you cannot avoid, I think at least half of the combat can be avoided and still allowing you to complete every quest.

Nah, *optional* is not quite accurate, since you have to skip an El's Drinker copy which isn't an option for true bros.
With the El's Drinker in Ravager you can end up with 4 without using the 3rd wish. Besides I usually duplicate the Terror Blade instead - insta-kill FTW, AND it's a small weapon so can be used in either hand. Dual-wielding Terror Blades is teh awesome :smug:
 

Texas Red

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This was a good read. I'd be interested to see more such articles, although I won't be donating or clicking on your ads.
 

hal900x

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A good place to own a gun.
IIRC, you can have "back-up" characters in reserve, in case somebody dies or, say, you need a thief. Not knowing about the backstab ability, that's what I did. Kept a thief in reserve for those climbing tasks.

Edit: Can't believe you didn't mention a little about the atmosphere in Dagolar's lair. It's one of my favorite places in the game, with the tormented souls telling you of their hellish tortures, and how it's completely fucking hopeless for you to do shit.
 

Elwro

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Divinity: Original Sin Wasteland 2
Another nice option for avoiding combat was giving the
wand of metal detection
to the people who mined the area near the hot springs.
 

VentilatorOfDoom

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even more things I didn't know, keep it coming...

With the El's Drinker in Ravager you can end up with 4 without using the 3rd wish. Besides I usually duplicate the Terror Blade instead - insta-kill FTW, AND it's a small weapon so can be used in either hand. Dual-wielding Terror Blades is teh awesome

That would just mean 2 El's Drinkers and 1 Terror Blade.
The first wave must not be skipped.
 

Crichton

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You don't need a thief for climbing since ropes work just as well and there are several available
(I generally use the spider silk one, though by the time you get it, going back to the sewers for that +1 axe is a little anticlimactic).

However the backstab works just like the gold box games, attack from one side and then attack from the other side with a backstabbing person. It provides a nice hefty little damage bonus.
 

Sceptic

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Crichton said:
You don't need a thief for climbing since ropes work just as well and there are several available
Itried this and I'm pretty sure neither the vine rope (east of Draj) nor the silk rope work on that spot in the sewers.

VentilatorOfDoom said:
That would just mean 2 El's Drinkers and 1 Terror Blade.
The wirst wave must not be skipped.
You are such a powergamer ;)
 

VentilatorOfDoom

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Sceptic said:
You are such a powergamer ;)

Jason also accused me of that. Bros, I totally larped several times in this playthru, by not killing stuff I could have killed for XP. Promise.
 

kmonster

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Nice review, some comments:

Gladiators don't get "grandmastery bonuses to all weapons", gaining +1 to AC if they wear armor at level 5 is the only benefit they have compared to fighters or rangers.

I disagree about picking "telepathy on character creation for your non-psionicist characters", ego whip is nice at the beginning, but useless late in the game when you have 4 attacks per round, the psionic which improves AC and reduces damage taken by 2 does make a difference.

I wouldn't do Dagolar's lair that soon. The ring you get from the lizardwoman in Teaquetzl desert for finding a new tribe for her (leaving the area afterwards before she has finished leaving is suspected to cause the endgame non-triggering bug) raises the hitpoints you get at level up a lot, so I'd try to finish this quest at as low level as possible.

I agree with Sceptic about thief backstabbing being very, very powerful.

Not only rampagers, babaus corrode stuff too.
 

VentilatorOfDoom

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I found Ego Whip to be a very convinient & reliable way of dealing with rampagers/wyverns and other monsters you don't really want to melee. It works quite well even on rampagers where other psionics usually fail. Especially if you improve it a bit so that you have it at ~18 or so.
 

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