Review – Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest

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I can go one in every of two methods with turn-based ways games. Give me one thing like XCOM, the place you’re thrown conditions filled with random variables and requested to make the perfect of them with insufficient assets, and I’ll go at it like John Henry, digging away in a doomed try and beat the machine. Give me one thing like Into The Breach, nevertheless, the place there’s much less component of probability and victory is achieved through cautious planning and… effectively, I’ll find it irresistible. Until I realise I’m being tricked into having fun with chess, that’s, at which level I’ll drop it like somebody who’s discovered an eyelid of their burger.

That’s not a slam on Into The Breach. It’s a masterpiece of design, and my bouncing off it’s extra to do with my shortcomings than the game’s. My mind simply occurs to be keen on reactive improvisation and estimating threat, relatively than methodical planning based mostly on identified portions. Maybe you’re wired the opposite means. Regardless, I’m joyful to say that Druidstone: the Secret of the Menhir Forest (the newest from the crew behind Legend of Grimrock) does a bang-up job of catering to each mentalities.

Druidstone is a turn-based fantasy ways game, performed on an isometric grid, throughout thirty-five rigorously designed ranges. You play as a celebration of three (4, later within the game), who can transfer and assault in any order you want throughout a single crew flip, and who every have a roster of particular skills with finite makes use of per mission. There are many baddies (Skeletons! Slugs! Beastie Boys!), in addition to a formidable array of various mission varieties and an assortment of interactive map furnishings reminiscent of door-opening strain pads, fire-shooting traps, and explodey barrels.

Completing missions wins gold and XP to construct up character stats and purchase weapons, whereas attaining harder optionally available aims wins you additional gems, which you need to use to enhance occasion members’ highly effective particular skills. You can full missions as many instances as you want to be able to grind XP (you get much less every time, thoughts), however you’ll solely be capable of bag the gem rewards for optionally available aims as soon as per mission. This will probably be vital in a minute.

You see, after I was only a few ranges into Druidstone, I used to be feeling a bit out of joint with it. It was exquisitely designed and doubtlessly good, however I had the growing feeling that I used to be fixing puzzles relatively than improvising my means via an RNG shitshow; that every degree had a single ‘solution’, which I used to be destined to find via repetitive trial and error. Move the massive man right here, burn the whirlwind capacity on these skeletons, then have the archer transfer there to take the final HP off the one nonetheless standing, and to be in vary of the dogmen who I do know will present up on flip three. Etc, and so on.

This feeling hit me notably throughout a degree the place you must escort a befuddled naturalist away from two raging basilisks, which proceed to chase your occasion via the extent. All I needed to do was get the bastard out of the world, however I spent ages replaying the extent as a result of I needed to do it completely – killing a basilisk and opening two out-of-the-way chests to be able to get all of the rewards.

Even with all of the repetition, it was nonetheless fairly enjoyable (and I think about there would have been quite a bit much less repetition if I used to be the form of particular person intelligent and analytical sufficient to work all of it out on the primary strive). But I used to be maybe lacking the purpose. Because whereas it’s utterly legit to play Druidstone as this form of plot-and-play puzzler, it’s additionally a game that’s designed to accommodate reckless, have-a-go dunces like me.

After the basilisk degree, I began simply having a bash at ranges – not considering too exhausting about them, and concentrating on assembly their baseline aims. Sometimes, I acquired a “hole in one”, nailing it on the primary go, and typically it took me two or three tries. Sometimes, I even hit all of the bonus aims whereas I used to be at it. But the place I didn’t, I simply moved on to different ranges, beefed up my occasion with the XP and gold acquired, then got here again later to do the optionally available aims with a stronger crew.

Playing this manner, I by no means felt ‘stuck’, and will loosen up into having fun with the spectacular number of degree design on supply – to not point out Druidstone’s fantastically oversaturated landscapes, its weirdly calming rating, its simple-yet-charming story and its surprisingly entertaining dialogue. Admittedly the dialogue was notably entertaining as I had known as my essential character “The Big Man”, and his identify prefixed each line of textual content he spoke, however I used to be additionally keen on the bizarre magical grifter Oiko, who offered much more enjoyable than his position as wisecracking, diminutive sidekick demanded.

Even when you account for having a number of goes at a number of ranges, it isn’t an extended game – it’s excellent for a few weekends’ play, or for every week or so of after-work dip-ins. And that’s nice. The care that’s been taken to make sure each degree is fascinating signifies that it by no means feels light-weight, and I’d relatively it’s the size it’s, than lengthen into lacklustre grind. And in addition to, with discuss of a degree creation and enhancing instrument being added to the game quickly, there’s potential for it to tackle a brand new life after completion.

After ending with Druidstone, I discovered it fascinating to assume how a lot much less of a game it might need been if its builders had gone via with early plans to make ranges procedurally generated. While a extra random, improvisational model of Druidstone might need appealed to my urge for food for turn-based tactical games, and may – in equity – have been extra replayable, I believe I might have loved it much less, and gotten bored earlier than the top.

As it’s, this can be a completely affordable portion of rigorously deliberate fantasy stabbing, which was sufficient enjoyable (as soon as I began enjoying correctly, at the very least) to make me reevaluate my entire place on puzzle components in tactical games. Hell, it’d even be time to postpone my subsequent marathon slog with XCOM, and revisit Into the Breach.


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