In Spellcraft, you play as Robert, an average man who has been transported to the land of Valoria. It all begins when you receive a letter from an old relative asking you to travel to England and meet him at Stonehenge. From there, you are conscripted by the wizard Garwayen to help save the world.
Valoria is a semi-standard fantasy setting, with magic, orcs, dragons, and so on. It deviates from the norm in its handling of the elements, though, including Ether and Mind along with the standard Earth, Air, Water, Fire elements.
Most of the action takes place in the different realms (Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Ether, Mind, and Death). Here, the player controls Robert in an isometric
setting, similar to (though pre-dating) Diablo
. It's not the same click-happy design, though, relying more on thoughtful setup rather than furious mouse and keyboard action. The game was somewhat forgiving here, teleporting the player to the Death Realm if they died in one of the higher realms. This game the player a chance to fight his way back.
The time spent outside of the different realms is spent in the workshop, where the player can use different items to create new spells, or simply tweak existing ones. The game truly shows its age here with regards to the diffiulty curve. While combining the right aspects can make powerful spells, slight deviations from these recipes often results in an instant kill
. This is made all the more dangerous by the fact that recipes are rarely, if ever, spelled out openly. In what may be viewed as an extremely devious form of copy protection, the knowledge needed to craft the spells could only be obtained via reading the manual for clues and paying close attention to the characters in the game.
The game struck an interesting balance. If the player was more interested in the combat aspects, it could be played almost solely as a fantasy combat game. However, if the player wanted to develop more strategy, some of the intensely powerful spells could make the combat a breeze, if only they could be discovered.
Rather than having your standard set of spells, the game focused on having a variety of combinations, allowing the player to progress in their own style. To begin, the player must choose a specific element to be an adept of, either Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Mind, or Ether. Note that Death is not an available choice.
Above and beyond that, there are specific types of spells that can be crafted. There are the straightforward Attack Spells and Defense Spells, then Personal Modifier Spells, Terrain Modifier Spells, Transformation Spells, and Conjuration Spells.
The game was largely unnoticed, garnering only a single review in Dragon, issue #190. It was a favorable review, being rated four out of five stars, but this did little to bolster sales.
All of the above is based on the PC version. Asciiware attempted to port the game to the SNES
, and decided to focus almost solely on the fantasy combat aspect. The game was canceled before its release, even though it was quite far along. There are rumored to be a few pre-released cartridges in existence, but these are desirable only as collector's items. The quality of the game was largely lost in the porting process.