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Really Obscure RPGs

Parsifarka

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I'm considering Heath: the Unchosen Path (Russian Golden Land)
I'm positive Heath and Golden Land are different games, but both part of a trilogy, Златогорье, completed with a ???Golden Land 2??? which I'm not sure ever was translated from Russian. I've been unable to trace online any English copy of these games, and I've wanted to play them for years. The only RPG from Burut I've tried is Hard to be a God, and I love it -some other Russian team made a game about cossacks with the same engine, which I haven't succeeded in locating either.
Were you luckier in the search, please consider a PM.
 

JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
The Supreme Element is a text RPG with D&D 2E combat rules, leveling up and equipment, with gameplay that is a mix between classic text adventure puzzle solving and D&D style dungeon crawling.

Also, it's got a tickle fetish theme and your attacks in combat consist of you tickling the feet of your enemies with magic. Yes. That's actually a thing.

Download here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/c283yjrfrkuiuc8/Element.rar

Treasures of a Slaver's Kingdom is also a text RPG, but there's less of a focus on equipment as in Supreme Element, and more focus on the adventure gameplay. Combat is simple and so is the RPG system, but it's still a fun game to play through.

Get here: http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/toask.htm

Text RPGs are, for some strange reason, surprisingly rare considering the masses of text adventure in existence. It only happens rarely that someone has the bright idea to add in stats and combat to a text adventure.
The entire genre is pretty damn obscure, and I'm always happy when I find one of these. More should be made.
 

V_K

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I'm positive Heath and Golden Land are different games, but both part of a trilogy, Златогорье, completed with a ???Golden Land 2??? which I'm not sure ever was translated from Russian.
No, Heath is Golden Land (Златогорье) 1, what is known in the West as Golden Land is Golden Land 2, and then there's Golden Land: Cold Heaven, which is essentially a standalone expansion for Golden Land (2). They're all completely abysmal.
 

Gord

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Schwert und Magie

..was a series of text-based RPG-light titles on the C64. Don't know if there ever was an english version.
They have a certain charm, reminiscent of 80s/90s adventure modules for various PnP RPGs and CYOA books.

IIRC, they also allowed you some sort of import of your hero between modules, but had some level-scaling mechanics, so it was a bit pointless to do so.
 
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Lord_Potato

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Text-based RPGs... wow, now we're really moving into the territory of the obscure :) I suppose there is no point in adding screenshots of those games? Anyway, thanks for the suggestions!

V_K is right, Heath was Златогорье in Russia, which means Golden Land. What we know as Golden Land outside Russia, is actually Златогорье 2. And Golden Land: Cold Heaven propably closes the trilogy. The last two titles are not available in English. A pity, I'd like to try them out, despite bad reviews. There is a thread on Gog where people campaign for adding those games to the Gog collection. Not really a big chance, but if they would succeed, there would be a chance for an English translation finally.

Anyway, to make this post more useful, I'll add one more obscure title to our little collection: The Fifth Disciple, a mix between point and click adventure and RPG.

This is how you navigate the game:
5Disciple1b.jpg


This is the stats screen:
5Disciple3b.jpg


And this is the combat:
5Disciple2b.jpg
 

Lord_Potato

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BTW, big thanks to the Moderator that sticked the thread! Just saw it.
 

Lord_Potato

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True that.

So, in order not to waste the sticky, let's update our list with some more obscure titles!

1. Iter Vehemens ad Necem (also known as IVaN) (2005) - which, according to Google translate means "The powerful way to kill". A crazy roguelike, where you encounter kamikaze dwarves, tourists or pink mushrooms.
ivan-screenshot-10_12_2012-2_21_44-pm.png


Screen7.png

2. Dark Disciples (2003) - a top down RPG focused on thieving. But there will be lots of turn based combat too!
dark-disciples_8.gif


dark-disciples_4.gif

3. Diver Down (2000) - an indie RPG with supposedly very interesting and well written story. For storyfags, but definately not for graphic whores.
122391-DiverDown.jpg


122389-DiverDown.jpg
 

Serus

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True that.

So, in order not to waste the sticky, let's update our list with some more obscure titles!

1. Iter Vehemens ad Necem (also known as IVaN) (2005) - which, according to Google translate means "The powerful way to kill". A crazy roguelike, where you encounter kamikaze dwarves, tourists or pink mushrooms.
ivan-screenshot-10_12_2012-2_21_44-pm.png


Screen7.png

2. Dark Disciples (2003) - a top down RPG focused on thieving. But there will be lots of turn based combat too!
dark-disciples_8.gif


dark-disciples_4.gif

3. Diver Down (2000) - an indie RPG with supposedly very interesting and well written story. For storyfags, but definately not for graphic whores.
122391-DiverDown.jpg


122389-DiverDown.jpg
As far as roguelikes go IVAN is fairly well known. Obviously the whole genre (i mean the actual roguelikes) is sort of obscure so it fits but if you include RLs then you could name every single one of them which should probably be avoided.
 

Lord_Potato

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which, according to Google translate means "The powerful way to kill".
I think it's supposed to mean "Violent road to death."

That's the beauty of Latin - you can translate it in so many different ways. It is ofcourse possible, that google translate is completely wrong though. And my knowledge of Latin is unfortunately very poor.

Anyway, today I managed to play an hour of "Metalheart: Replicant's Rampage" and an hour of "Heath: the Unchosen Path". After the test drives I decided to try to finish "Heath" (Russian Златогорье) first. "Metalheart" might look like a Fallout wannabe, but a truelly Falloutesque character creation in Heath won me over.

I will post my experiences soon!
 

CryptRat

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Dark disciples is great, very few games equal its use of stats and multiple paths for different builds.

Dark disciples 2 is supposedly even better but I haven't played it yet.
 

Lord_Potato

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As far as roguelikes go IVAN is fairly well known. Obviously the whole genre (i mean the actual roguelikes) is sort of obscure so it fits but if you include RLs then you could name every single one of them which should probably be avoided.

You are propably right. However, not being an expert on Roguelikes, I still knew about titles like ADOM, Angband or DoomRL. But I only heard about IVaN today.
 

AdolfSatan

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Dec 27, 2017
Messages
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10. The Banished - from what little I could find, it was also a Polish game, seemed to have really big game world ready for exploration. But I cannot find even a single review on the net.
5f3b6b71-54b8-4e7d-b0d3-28a92c1c497d.jpg
Got this one around 2005. How a CDR copy of an Eastern European game nobody knows about managed to reach the hands of a youngster in South America is something I can only wonder.
It's been nearly fifteen years, so I don't remember much, but the combat, while lacking in depth, was interesting enough to keep me hooked. Specially since there wasn't much of a story I can recall.
Would it be worth tracking down to play it? Eh, I'd say no.

If what you're looking for is a good, obscure RPG in a nice setting then you should try Jewel of Arabia : Dreamers.
JoACombat.gif
+1 to this, great game!

cec4817493b4529f4b76959ff21ca100.jpg

Hexplore, an RPG/action-adventure game, very strange. I loved the demo.
I remember this one! Must have played it around 2000 - 2001. It was more puzzle oriented than rpg, though, it's elements of role-playing were light to non-existent. Still, had lots of fun with it as a kid.

There are several others of which I have vague recollections and impressions, but can't recall their names at all. They were mediocre or outright bad anyways, but I'll come back and post if I happen to remember.
 

Fowyr

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That's the beauty of Latin - you can translate it in so many different ways. It is ofcourse possible, that google translate is completely wrong though. And my knowledge of Latin is unfortunately very poor.
Google is wrong, as always. Technically, you can translate it as "powerful way to die", but proper translation is a "furious (vehement) road (or a journey) to death (not just death, violent death). So "official" tranlslation is right.
 

Lord_Potato

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After finishing Gorasul: the Legacy of the Dragon and posting the review I decided that my next adventure into the realm of obscure RPGs will take me to Russia. This time I chose a game so obscure, that it has almost no reviews in English language (with a single exception on gamefaqs: https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/562282-heath-the-unchosen-path/reviews/71893 ), no let’s plays on youtube, nothing. The game is called “Heath: the Unchosen Path”. Actually, it’s a prequel to another obscure RPG, called The Golden Land. The Russian titles are even more confusing. In Russia Heath was called Златогорье and Golden Land - Златогорье 2. However, Golden Land was never published in English (only in Russian and... Spanish). Heath was translated to English (more on that later) and was published in 2003.

Now, this cover looks familiar...
...what are you doing here, Sarevok?
Heath_The_Unchosen_Path_1.jpg


Let us not get discouraged by the less than enthusiastic review from gamefaqs and bite into the meat of the game. It starts with a big loredump telling the history of the realm called Golden Land that is being invaded by the forces of darkness, and an animated sequence showing a battle between a hero of the good gods, Gromoboj (in Russian it would mean “The one who strikes with lightnings” or “The one whose strikes are as strong as thunder”, I refuse to use the transcription the translators proposed: “Gromoboy”, because it is ridiculous beyond imagination) and the champion of darkness, the evil god Drah-shu. Later we learn that Gromoboj was defeated and imprisoned, though he managed to seriously hurt his foe.

The intro of the game: many such screens ahead of you. At least the sketches are nice.
3.jpg


After the intro the character creation may begin. Fallout players will quickly feel at home here. You choose the sex of your hero (the game promises that sex “influences different dialogues and attitude of people toward the hero”, but it is a blatant lie; I chose a female character and most NPCs still addressed my heroine as “man”. There was only one dialogue, which was different for both genders and it was tied to the main plot, plus the difference was of cosmetic nature). Then you can either choose on the three “classes”: warrior, ranger and sorcerer, or create your own.

In reality the system is classless, so the three professions are just ready initial setups of statistics, skills and perks, which you can later shape according to your will. Ofcourse I decided to create my own profession. There are 5 primary statistics: Strength, Endurance, Agility, Memory, Intelligence (ranging from 1 to 10) and 12 secondary statistics, that are derived from primary ones. Good thing is that usually secondary statistic is dependant on 2 or more primary ones. Then you select 2 initial perks from 7 available and 5 skills from a list of 17. Here you have weapons focuses (unarmed, swords, axes, blunt weapons, bows), armor focuses (shield, armor), magic (vital, defensive, offensive, artifact and magic protection) and other useful abilities (lock picking, herbs, quackery, hunting, trade).

Character sheet: paper doll, primary and secondary stats, inventory.
9.jpg


452873-heath_044.jpg


Apart from some hps, at every level you get a number of skillpoints (first 5, later 10 or 15) which you use to increase your skills. However, the higher it is, the more expensive another advancement gets - just like in Might and Magic 6. Every two levels of experience you get the option to choose 2 more perks. They are numerous and diverse – you can increase a primary stat, unlock another skill or get special abilities or useful modifiers. And you unlock new perks during the whole game. Upon finishing Heath at level 20 I still could choose between 18 old and new perks. So, there are many ways you can develop your character.

After some deliberation I created an agile and clever rogue character (bows, lock picking, trade) with some magical affinity (vital, offensive) and ability to survive in the wilderness (hunting, herbs – they are passive skills, activated while you travel on the game map; hunting gives you food, herbs – magical potions). It has proven to be quite an effective mix.

This is how the game begins, first thing you spot is the semi-competent translation that will only get worse.
15.jpg

After creating the character you appear in front of a village of Berezan and meet the first NPC, Elovit, “the sorcerer of Belobog” (White God, the creator of all things). He tells you about your past – you were killed while defending your village from the undead hordes; Belogod decided to resurrect you and make you the champion of Golden Land and his own. Your quest is to stop the invasion of the dark forces, by killing the leader of the hordes, Azarga-khan. In order to finally stop the evil god Drah-shu you also need to find and free Gromoboj from his prison. But first you need to learn and gather power, by adventuring in the land and fulfilling quests given to you by Elovit’s friends.

And thus, your story begins. It may sound cliched as hell and it really is, but there will be a twist at the end. The plot is really a mixture of elements from Baldur’s Gate and first Knights of the Old Republic. If you listed attentively to the NPCs (and not mind the awful translation) you will find that not everything is as it was told to you by Elovit and his lackeys. The “good guys” have lots of dirt under their fingernails and in the end you may be as disgusted by them as by dark forces. I will not spoil more, just say that in the end you will have a choice how this story shall end.

Unfortunately, choice and consequence is a rare luxury in the realm of Golden Land. There will be maybe two or three opportunities to make a decision and face the results. Otherwise it shall be quite a linear journey. You travel from village to town, meet NPCs that give you quests, provide services or dump even more lore on you. Most of them are quite shallow and one dimensional, although they are several more interesting ones, like Elovit himself, a bitter she-warrior Sigourna, prince Yaropolk, broken by the consequences of his past actions, or Gromoboj himself, a man tired of being a hero of the land. The world map, on which you plan your adventures may be colorful and bright, but it’s a dark world and people are desperate, dissafected, devoid of hope. You can almost feel that the Golden Land fell under a shadow. The atmosphere is well crafted and even the translation cannot break the effect.

The charming world map, with all these tiny details:
16_1.jpg


So, what’s the meat of the game? Tactical combat. At its very nature the game is, as strange as it may seem, a turn based hack and slash. Almost every quest (fedEx, assassination, protection etc.) leads to battles against numerous and dangerous foes. Travelling through the land may also bring a random encounter of a violet kind. You control one character only, but sometimes there are allies fighting on your side. You can also find companions that will join your cause (I managed to get 5: Sigourna, which I managed to convince via quest; Dobrynya, whom I payed with gold, and three others who are tied to the main plot and will only stick with you for a brief period of time; perhaps there are more).

The battles are very similar to Fallout. You take turns and initiative decides who moves first. During your turn you use action points, dependant on your statistics and perks. You can attack, move around the battlefield, cast spells etc. Fortunately, consuming potions and using scrolls from your quick slots does not cost you AP, but opening inventory to refill the quick slots does. The system is quite simple: bows do not need ammunition and the quality of weapons and armor does not deteriorate with use, but still you have enough options to keep things interesting for the whole game. Spells cost not only AP, but also Energy (mana) and you need to regain power with the help of potions or food.

The battles that await you look like this:
14_1.jpg


452867-heath_038.jpg


452869-heath_040.jpg


452870-heath_041.jpg


It is a Russian game, so ofcourse alcohol also plays a role. You may consume not only food or magic potions but also vine, vodka etc. However, the results of beverage consumpion are both beneficial and harmful (for example, your strenght and endurance grows but at the expense of Armor class). Fortunately, there is a perk that allows you to drink and benefit from the positive effects without suffering the negative consequences.

The enemies are diverse and come straight from Russian and southern European folklore. So, instead of orcs and goblins you will fight bukas, bagas, marsh lichos, navias, asps or shishkuns. Plus some humanoids, like the Drah-shu priests and female warriors from the kingdom of Alberia. The selection of foes keeps things fresh and safeguards from boredom.

The quests are diverse and interesting (even though you will usually solve them by combat). In the course of my game I completed 24 of them (perhaps there are some more), both connected to the main plot or completely independent. You will carry gifts and letters from one village to another, recover a ring stolen by a werewolf, defeat a witch that cursed the nearby forest, protect and attack trade caravans, exchange riddles with a goddess, aid an oracle tormented by invisible and angry spirits, bring an apple of eternal youth to a thousand year old sorceress or help an immortal to find a solace in death. If only the translation wasn’t such a hack job, the whole experience would be much more pleasurable. But still it manages to provide lots of joy.

The gameplay might be considered somewhat monotonous (travel – fight random encounter – reach village, speak&trade, get quests – travel some more – fight quest encounter – repeat), but it does not overstay it’s welcome. Heath can be completed in 8-10 hours. It has two separate endings (both with its own animated scene), but apart from that the only replayability may come from a different build of your PC. A sturdy warrior supported by artifact magic plays very differently from a fragile archer or a wizard relying on supporting your allies.

The trading screen:
12_1.jpg


The presentation of the game is nothing to write home about: the visuals are similar to Diablo or Fallout (more colorful, but less detailed), despite the fact that “Heath” is a much newer game. It is functional, but nothing more. A nice addition is the paper doll of your character – you can observe on it (and on the model of your PC) every change in clothing, armor, weapon selection etc. The art direction is ok – some locations are interesting to look upon and they add to the atmosphere of the game. Same can be said about sketches in your adventurer journal that illustrate the descriptions of countries and enemies – they are climatic and well drawn. On the other hand, villages look generic and identical to one another. Music is irritating and you better turn it off or tone it down as soon as possible. It adds nothing at all.

I did not encounter any game-breaking bugs. Sometimes my PC froze after a battle and I could not move her, but saving and loading the save was enough to get rid of this error. There were also 1 or two ctds, but nothing really serious or irritating. Compared to Gorasul this game is a masterpiece of coding.

And here we have a generic blacksmith standing in front of a generic wooden house. Plus a generic chest as a bonus.
10.jpg


So, this is it. Heath: the Unchosen Path is short but enjoyable adventure, suffering from a butchered translation and propably also low quite a low budget. The English version of the game did not receive much popularity (or advertisement), however in Russia it was obviously popular enough to spawn two sequels. I may reccomend it to people who like Fallout battles, enjoy playing with different builds and want to experience, how a turn-based hack and slash feels. I certainly enjoyed it, while it lasted.

So, where do I go from here? I must say the scale of Metalheart: Replicant’s Rampage is a bit intimidating. I honestly do not want to sink 60 hours into a game that proves to be a complete shit. Maybe I’ll try some shorter adventures, such as provided by “Mornings wrath” or “Neverend”. If you have any suggestion, please post them below. I might be persuaded to check some other titles.
 
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V_K

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suffering from a butchered translation
I keep reading that about Russian games and I keep correcting: do not fault the translation, I don't know a single Russian RPG whose writing quality would rise above horrible. Translations are just faithful to the original.
 

Lord_Potato

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suffering from a butchered translation
I keep reading that about Russian games and I keep correcting: do not fault the translation, I don't know a single Russian RPG whose writing quality would rise above horrible. Translations are just faithful to the original.

Ok, I believe that Russian RPGs might have poor writing. But the translation had grammatical mistakes, misused words, and I even found a character whose dialogue was not translated at all. They really did a poor job. When the quality of translation was a bit better I could appreciate some dialogues (even if they were quite convoluted).
 

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