By ahoodedfigure 3 Comments
I've been playing two games to the exclusion of all others this week.
Six Gun Saga
The first, as one might have guessed, is the demo for Six Gun Saga. It lends itself well to a type of storytelling in games that I like, where you just get the major plot points and are left to imagine the details. Using the basic building blocks I was given, I imagined a cowboy, my main character, walked into town with the interest of buying some property with all the money he made in the cattle trade, and thus crossed the boss of the town, who tried to ambush my guy's growing circle of contacts. My guy responds by setting up tons of ambushes, buying up property, hiring gunslingers to clean up the town (or put a different color dirt on it, at least). About halfway through I hired a lawman and reduced his turn-by-turn cost in uptake to zero. So, I pretended this guy joined because he liked my character's style of rule better than the previous guy. He helped me gain a bunch of victory points by hunting down outlaws, and he wound up killing a bunch of the badguy's cronies while he was at it. This resulted, during the very last turn of the game, with my lawman friend getting bushwhacked by the main bad guy (who had finally come out of hiding) and a group of his thugs. The badguy killed the lawman and then got away. I won in terms of victory points, but it was a bitter victory.
All this narrative just came from the cards I played. It has just enough detail to let you hang whatever sort of justifications for the events you want. I guess that's why wild west stories appeal to me; when they're told well, they have a universal approach that tries to talk about the small human struggles and the big ones at the same time.
I've found the best time to play Six Gun Saga is when I'm just looking to waste a little time; I guess it's a more laterally complicated equivalent of solitaire. But instead of just putting lifeless cards in piles, you have characters getting lucky in gunfights, cattle barons buying up property (and burning down opponents' property), getting caught in ambushes, and individual character abilities changing over time to reflect hard living, training, and a bunch of other random occurrences (all caused through player-imposed events, and all have a cost).
Legends of Yore
The second has been the free PC version of a light roguelike-style game called Legends of Yore. It is not filled with options like most roguelikes are, and it has no pretenses of competing with roguelikes out there in terms of scope and depth. It errs on the side of playability, with a refreshingly easy-to-learn interface, some decent combat abilities, a good progression of loot (you appreciate every apple you find to start, but after a while you start picking up unique items and set items, and you begin to get nice loot drops for harder enemies which drives you to attack stuff you probably have no business attacking). The difficulty progresses as you want it to, so you can stick to the easy dungeons and grind if that's your thing, or do like me and try to take on dungeons that are above your ability, getting lucky and learning tricks to beat harder enemies and gain experience faster (and make much more money). Things do not get harder as you level unless you want them to, which is how I usually like it.
It is not, in some ways, randomly generated like you would expect from a roguelike. When you start the game there are pre-set town configurations, pre-set towns, and the overworld map is the same (as far as I've been able to discern; let me know if that's not the case). What's random is the dungeons themselves, at least in the sense that they are different EVERY TIME YOU ENTER. So, it's not a simulation really. When ascending or descending back to a level you've been to before, you will usually run into a different pattern of rooms, although the enemies will usually follow a theme. Once in a while you'll run into a room that has a set configuration; these have been a bit too challenging for my guy (I think he's level 20 now). You can't drop loot, only destroy it, you can carry quite a bit, you can Town Portal out of there if you have to sell stuff, and you get a chest in every town that lets you store equipment.
The saving system is merciful but not universally benevolent, and I like it a lot. It automatically saves whenever you enter a new level of a dungeon, or a town or wilderness area. If you die, unlike in most roguelikes (perhaps this is sounding less and less like a roguelike to many of you, and I understand, but it's still a dungeon crawler with random elements, in any case) the death is not permanent (although the latest release allows you to switch to permadeath if you want to). It's a bit more like Diablo in that you can start back in the nearest town having lost the loot you hadn't stored in a universal chest. OR, you can restart where you entered the level at the level of health you had at that time, with all your junk still on your person. Most of the time this is the better situation, especially if you're in a non-scenario dungeon and can just use town portal from the safe starting room to get out of there... yeah, this really is more like a turn-based Diablo in a lot of ways, come to think of it.
I have played a lot of this game, and I like it. It's one of the few games that actually make time seem to slow down, rather than speed up, which is totally weird. The control scheme is not perfect, the java executable sometimes causes clock errors, and there have been crashes after extended plays (save if you get any neat loot and your health isn't too bad; the level may reconfigure when you restart, but you'll keep the loot. The only problem is if you're in a scenario dungeon-- you may restart next to that guy that was guarding the stairs before, which could lead to scrambling for a town portal to get out of there or using up a lot of power to defeat it). One more thing that I imagine will get fixed is that the use stairs popup sometimes doesn't activate when you're getting swarmed by enemies.
I've only played as the archer, which has a cool ability to crit reliably from long distances as long as he/she isn't hit, and as the archer levels certain abilities will let you push targets back or other things that will make them easier targets, but at the expense of your ability to crit reliably. The archer also specializes in traps, which damage and freeze enemies for a short length of time, and are absolutely vital to the archer surviving in later levels. I've not tried the warrior or the wizard yet. [EDIT: The tiny artwork for individual squares is from the same source as Realm of the Mad God's. Very efficient use of pixels.]
The game is free for the PC, with mobile phone versions costing a few bucks.
Check either of these games out, and let me know what you think of them in the comments if you do (or any other noteworthy games, if you want). Since Legends of Yore doesn't have a wiki up yet, I'll put this in general discussion. Found out about LoY through
Paul Soares Jr.
of Minecraft and indie game profile fame.