A Brief Jaunt Through: FTL's Dungeon Master (Part 2)

I forgot how big the floors are in this game, so I didn't even get down to the third floor without maxing out on screenshots. I'd do a part 3 but I think I'll run out of things to say by the time I make it down there (which is a shame, because it's an interesting collection of puzzle chambers rather than the usual wandering around getting lost without a quickmap). Still, I'm presenting these games as possible backlog-filler, rather than a full walkthrough. Despite its age and the aforementioned lack of maps (the internet has your back for those, no doubt) Dungeon Master is absolutely still playable, especially if you're used to the kind of BS Grimrock is likely to throw at you. Chaos Strikes Back is still a little hardcore though.

Part 2 - Screamers, Starring Peter Weller & A Mummy

First things first, I give our female barbarian something more substantial than a chainmail bra. I appreciate the classics, but we do want to survive this jaunt.
These leonine lifesavers are fountains you can drink at to your heart's content. They get infrequent on lower floors, so it's best to get a few skins (which can hold three gulps of water) and fill 'em up whenever possible.
Here we have a Screamer, a non-copyright-violating version of the D&D Shrieker. That is, a sentient fungi that attacks with its shrill voice. It's not a big challenge.
But they do give you these "screamer slices"; ostensibly an edible item you can eat if you're particularly desperate.
The pressure plates are really stepping up their game. Or stepping on.. their.. aw, fuck it.
Uh-oh.
Aw heck, there's four of them now. Fortunately, they're still not much of a challenge.
It's best to keep your focus and try to kite enemies to bring them down. That is, when they're not just mushrooms. Are they seriously the only danger on this floor?
Oh right, I forgot. Historical note: Thriller came out five years ago. Get some new moves, Imhotep.
This helpful wall carving and its happy rhyming is warning us about a nearby Material Emancipation Grid.
Actually it's a teleporter. Yep, even more puzzle variation. See why this game rocks?
Here's a fun one: Without anything on this pad the wall in front is empty.
Put this knife (or anything, really) here, though, and some words appear. What sort of insights does it offer?
Great!
I neglected to mention what is a big part of this game: Ninja skillz. Unfortunately they don't have anything to do with turning invisible or summoning fire dragons or getting pecked constantly by birds; Ninja skills are entirely about throwing things at enemies. For instance, I just threw a rock through this portcullis gate (yes, you can do that) and it killed the Screamer behind it.
Wuuf is the only guy with Ninja classes, so we'll let him do the throwing. Also note how many screamer slices we're accruing; who wants Cream of Mushroom soup? More like Scream of Mushroom soup! Aha ha... ha...
Occasionally you'll need to sleep. Sleep is the best way of regenerating all three stats (though mana should regenerate on its own quickly enough). It also makes you hungrier, thirstier and frequently attracts monsters. That's what's going on in this screen grab by the way, we haven't just entered the Matrix.
Occasionally the teleport grids will only teleport objects. Placing an item here closes a nearby pit, letting you grab a key (and the item you dropped).
Oh hell, they come in threes now?
This is right next to a door with no switch. I do like a challenge.
But sometimes, though, I just want to get through a damn door. That's where the swords come in. Next, we're off to visit Gordium for a knot problem of theirs.
Our reward is a chest. Treasure chests are an interesting commodity in this game, beyond simply being the holders of loot.
You can carry them around as a means to store additional items, sort of like a bag of holding. The chests themselves are fairly hefty though, as you might expect, so it's best suited for carrying a lot of small items since encumbrance is still entirely a thing.
Wuuf filled it with screamer slices. The little guy also got his first wizard level after so many light spells, making him a neophyte and upgrading his stats (importantly, he gained 2 HP and 4 Mana). So proud of him. You can spend a considerable time building your character classes if you're getting beat up a lot; wizards and clerics need to cast a lot of spells and create potions, though, and it takes time to regenerate the mana. All ninjas have to do is throw shit. Moral: Be a ninja, kids, it's the easy way through life.

I eventually did find my way to floor 3 (puzzles), which is followed by floor 4 (the dreaded and not-at-all-sexually-suggestive Purple Worms, which is where many people gave up) and the floors kind of continue like that in a steadily increasing numerical fashion. While I did briefly touch on the combat (it's essentially driven by those weapon icons on the right, each with their own set of commands) the real draw are the odd little puzzles everywhere and the way the game handles treasure: If you find a gold coin, you don't grab it because it's shiny loot, but because you'll probably need it later for some closed door with a suspicious coin slot next to it. Weapons and equipment are just to keep you alive longer, food and water are necessary tools for survival and everything has a practical (if not always immediately apparent) application. Rather than diminishing the appeal of exploration and treasure, the system actually increases the value of these items you find scattered around everywhere because they're almost certainly vital - you aren't just scouring a dungeon floor for the sake of some arbitrary 100% completion factor.

I can't really tell you in no uncertain terms exactly why this resonated with so many back in the day - there's probably a dozen reasons that were self-evident back then regarding how new and fresh every aspect of it felt - but the fact it remains playable 25 years later is in some way a testament to how well structured it is. It's very much the Legend of Zelda of the early Atari ST/Amiga/PC DOS days and hopefully some sense of that got through all these pictures of my wizard ninja dog wandering about being silly.

Until next time, everyone.

Other Brief Jaunts
Master of Magic - Parts 1 - 2 - 3
Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos - Parts 1 - 2
Dungeon Master - Parts 1 - 2
13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by Mento

I forgot how big the floors are in this game, so I didn't even get down to the third floor without maxing out on screenshots. I'd do a part 3 but I think I'll run out of things to say by the time I make it down there (which is a shame, because it's an interesting collection of puzzle chambers rather than the usual wandering around getting lost without a quickmap). Still, I'm presenting these games as possible backlog-filler, rather than a full walkthrough. Despite its age and the aforementioned lack of maps (the internet has your back for those, no doubt) Dungeon Master is absolutely still playable, especially if you're used to the kind of BS Grimrock is likely to throw at you. Chaos Strikes Back is still a little hardcore though.

Part 2 - Screamers, Starring Peter Weller & A Mummy

First things first, I give our female barbarian something more substantial than a chainmail bra. I appreciate the classics, but we do want to survive this jaunt.
These leonine lifesavers are fountains you can drink at to your heart's content. They get infrequent on lower floors, so it's best to get a few skins (which can hold three gulps of water) and fill 'em up whenever possible.
Here we have a Screamer, a non-copyright-violating version of the D&D Shrieker. That is, a sentient fungi that attacks with its shrill voice. It's not a big challenge.
But they do give you these "screamer slices"; ostensibly an edible item you can eat if you're particularly desperate.
The pressure plates are really stepping up their game. Or stepping on.. their.. aw, fuck it.
Uh-oh.
Aw heck, there's four of them now. Fortunately, they're still not much of a challenge.
It's best to keep your focus and try to kite enemies to bring them down. That is, when they're not just mushrooms. Are they seriously the only danger on this floor?
Oh right, I forgot. Historical note: Thriller came out five years ago. Get some new moves, Imhotep.
This helpful wall carving and its happy rhyming is warning us about a nearby Material Emancipation Grid.
Actually it's a teleporter. Yep, even more puzzle variation. See why this game rocks?
Here's a fun one: Without anything on this pad the wall in front is empty.
Put this knife (or anything, really) here, though, and some words appear. What sort of insights does it offer?
Great!
I neglected to mention what is a big part of this game: Ninja skillz. Unfortunately they don't have anything to do with turning invisible or summoning fire dragons or getting pecked constantly by birds; Ninja skills are entirely about throwing things at enemies. For instance, I just threw a rock through this portcullis gate (yes, you can do that) and it killed the Screamer behind it.
Wuuf is the only guy with Ninja classes, so we'll let him do the throwing. Also note how many screamer slices we're accruing; who wants Cream of Mushroom soup? More like Scream of Mushroom soup! Aha ha... ha...
Occasionally you'll need to sleep. Sleep is the best way of regenerating all three stats (though mana should regenerate on its own quickly enough). It also makes you hungrier, thirstier and frequently attracts monsters. That's what's going on in this screen grab by the way, we haven't just entered the Matrix.
Occasionally the teleport grids will only teleport objects. Placing an item here closes a nearby pit, letting you grab a key (and the item you dropped).
Oh hell, they come in threes now?
This is right next to a door with no switch. I do like a challenge.
But sometimes, though, I just want to get through a damn door. That's where the swords come in. Next, we're off to visit Gordium for a knot problem of theirs.
Our reward is a chest. Treasure chests are an interesting commodity in this game, beyond simply being the holders of loot.
You can carry them around as a means to store additional items, sort of like a bag of holding. The chests themselves are fairly hefty though, as you might expect, so it's best suited for carrying a lot of small items since encumbrance is still entirely a thing.
Wuuf filled it with screamer slices. The little guy also got his first wizard level after so many light spells, making him a neophyte and upgrading his stats (importantly, he gained 2 HP and 4 Mana). So proud of him. You can spend a considerable time building your character classes if you're getting beat up a lot; wizards and clerics need to cast a lot of spells and create potions, though, and it takes time to regenerate the mana. All ninjas have to do is throw shit. Moral: Be a ninja, kids, it's the easy way through life.

I eventually did find my way to floor 3 (puzzles), which is followed by floor 4 (the dreaded and not-at-all-sexually-suggestive Purple Worms, which is where many people gave up) and the floors kind of continue like that in a steadily increasing numerical fashion. While I did briefly touch on the combat (it's essentially driven by those weapon icons on the right, each with their own set of commands) the real draw are the odd little puzzles everywhere and the way the game handles treasure: If you find a gold coin, you don't grab it because it's shiny loot, but because you'll probably need it later for some closed door with a suspicious coin slot next to it. Weapons and equipment are just to keep you alive longer, food and water are necessary tools for survival and everything has a practical (if not always immediately apparent) application. Rather than diminishing the appeal of exploration and treasure, the system actually increases the value of these items you find scattered around everywhere because they're almost certainly vital - you aren't just scouring a dungeon floor for the sake of some arbitrary 100% completion factor.

I can't really tell you in no uncertain terms exactly why this resonated with so many back in the day - there's probably a dozen reasons that were self-evident back then regarding how new and fresh every aspect of it felt - but the fact it remains playable 25 years later is in some way a testament to how well structured it is. It's very much the Legend of Zelda of the early Atari ST/Amiga/PC DOS days and hopefully some sense of that got through all these pictures of my wizard ninja dog wandering about being silly.

Until next time, everyone.

Other Brief Jaunts
Master of Magic - Parts 1 - 2 - 3
Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos - Parts 1 - 2
Dungeon Master - Parts 1 - 2
Moderator
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I don't remember playing this game, but something you said in the notes following the pictures is making me think that maybe I have. Waaaay back when I was about eight or nine, I remember playing a Might and Magic-esque dungeon crawler that had you relying on food and water for survival too. I'm gonna track down my old 5 1/2' disks and see if I don't have this somewhere.

In any case, great write-up. I like the picture oriented look at the games you're covering. With games like this, pictures really are worth a thousand words. Are you going to keep this blog series going? If so, what's the next game?

Moderator
Posted by Video_Game_King

@Sparky_Buzzsaw said:

Waaaay back when I was about eight or nine, I remember playing a Might and Magic-esque dungeon crawler that had you relying on food and water for survival too.

Could it be Ultima? I think that got a DOS release, and I definitely remember it having that "eat to survive" bullshit I've come to dislike in games (or, if we're being honest here, pretty much one game).

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@Video_Game_King: Could be. I'm gonna have to dig to find out.

Moderator
Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: That's a pretty common trope among ye olde dungeon crawlers, so there are plenty of options.

@Mento: Did you ever play Dungeon Master II? I messed around with it a bit, and it seems to be a pretty natural progression of the first game, despite coming out 5 years later and having stuff like "music". Same goes for the Eye of the Beholder games.

Edited by Mento

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: I have no idea what the next one of these will be. I probably ought to do Might and Magic VII since I said I would. Might need to use Jing or something. And yeah, Dungeon Master was such a big thing that there were plenty of imitators. It's possible it was DM or Ishar or Realms of Arkania or Eye of the Beholder or a dozen other things.

@ArbitraryWater: Dungeon Master II is a natural progression of sorts, because I got completely lost in no time at all. What little I remember is getting struck by lightning while outside, having passworded doors I couldn't figure out how to open and how every merchant seemed to operate by using the turning table from the prologue of Temple of Doom. I think the developers felt as I did that the original was mostly about the odd puzzles and less about the RPG stuff, but man if they didn't go overboard a tad.

Moderator
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Just found it. Realms of Arkania, all right.

Big Gulps, huh? Well, see ya later!

Moderator
Posted by Mento

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: Arkania's one of the few I have no prior experience with, so if you ever decide to play it (in spite all those other RPGs you got lined up) I'd like to hear your thoughts. I suspect many of them haven't aged well.

I'm going to have to borrow that Big Gulps line (from the other D&D, right?). The amount of times I walk into a thread and walk right back out again...

Moderator
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Haha, you got both parts! Excellent. And here I thought was leaving my ass out to the wind. Hah!

Moderator
Posted by Karkarov

@Mento said:

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: Arkania's one of the few I have no prior experience with, so if you ever decide to play it (in spite all those other RPGs you got lined up) I'd like to hear your thoughts. I suspect many of them haven't aged well.

I'm going to have to borrow that Big Gulps line (from the other D&D, right?). The amount of times I walk into a thread and walk right back out again...

You can pick up Arkania on GoG now actually, all three of them even. They are actually based around the rules and world of those Drakensang: The Dark Eye games, including the one adventure game one that just came out. Go figure.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@Karkarov: Really? Damn. I thought it was D&D too. Well, that throws my entire earlier joke right out the window.

Moderator
Edited by Mento

@Karkarov: I knew of Dark Eye, but not Realms of Arkania's connection to it. I thought it was just the Drakensang games and that new adventure game spin-off that were based on Dark Eye. I suppose if it's as big as D&D in its native Germany, it would explain why there's quite a few games that use that system.

Then again, I don't believe the Gothic/Risen series or the Amberstar games were Dark Eye based. Man, Germany sure makes a lot of RPGs. I ought to get cracking with some of them.

Moderator
Posted by Karkarov

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: @Mento:

The Dark Eye RPG's (Drakensang and River of Time) are actually pretty good if you like a classic Baldur's Gate style game and don't mind some slow starts/lack of dragon age level polish. It is too bad the company that made them basically got bought out by people who just make shovelware, browser mmo's, and facebook games. Oh well that's how the cookie crumbles :p.

Posted by Russcat

This was an awesome trip down memory lane. I loved this, the Eye of the Beholder series and other clones growing up. And has it really been 25 years? Damn, that makes me feel old. I will have to pick this up on GOG and give it another play through.