Gothic is a third-person action RPG set in a prison colony that has been taken over by its convicts. They cannot get out due to a magical barrier, but the king needs the ore from the valley for his army and so is forced to trade with them. The player is thrown into this valley for crimes unknown. Before his sentence a man asks him to take a letter, which he is to deliver to the fire mages who are trapped in the valley with the convicts...
The game is relatively low on statistics, focusing instead on reflex-based combat and character interaction through dialogue. The scale of the world is modest compared to other RPGs though as a result the world is elaborately detailed (if a little sparse in visuals by today's standards) and every area is uniquely crafted to be memorable and interesting. Gothic's soundtrack was composed by Kai Rosenkranz.
The inhabitants of The Colony are divided into three factions, each of which you can join: The Mafia-like Old Camp, the anarchist New Camp... and the Sect Camp (pot-smoking religious fundamentalists). The Old Camp controls trade and is keen to maintain the status quo, while the other two camps are each working on a plan to destroy the barrier and escape.
Mentions in the Special Thanks suggests the developers of Gothic were heavily influenced by the games of Warren Spector, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux, Sid Meier, Bill Roper and Nolan Bushnell and also by George Lucas.
Being a fantasy game there is obviously some Tolkien in there, but there are no Elves or Dwarves... only Orcs, and the tone of the game is more gritty than your average high-fantasy. Visually, Gothic draws from many different things, its environments reminiscent of European forests, while the architecture and costumes are an eclectic mix of Western medieval, Native-American and even Japanese elements.
Once you are thrown into the prison colony and welcomed by Diego, the valley, along with all its politics, is yours to explore. The first chapter of the game is fairly open-ended and the story doesn't really start moving until you choose a faction. Your only goal for now is to work your way up through the ranks to gain access to the castle and get that letter to the Fire Mages.
Chapter 2: The Minecrawlers' Nest
One of your first serious quests is to go into the Old Mine for the Sect Camp and find the nest of the Minecrawlers. Guru Cor Kalom wants the Minecrawler eggs for his experiments as they contain a secretion more powerful than the one they normally harvest from the Minecrawler mandibles.
In preperation for the invocation of " The Sleeper", Y'Berion, the spiritual leader of the Sect, asks you to find a "focus stone". Nyras, the novice originally sent to retrieve it, has not returned. You find him with the stone, but he has lost his mind and tries to kill you.
The night after your return the invocation ceremony is held in the Sect Camp. During the ritual Y'Berion receives a vision of an Orc burial ground and an old temple.
Chapter 3: Artifacts of Ancient Power
The strain of the vision is too much for Y'Berion and he collapses. When you reach the burial ground he saw, you find the expedition that was sent ahead slaughtered. The lone surviror, Baal Lukor, leads you into the secret chamber where the mystery of this Sleeper is to be revealed, but you find nothing but bones and dust. Lukor, like Nyras before him, goes mad and tries to attack you, crying that The Sleeper demands a human sacrifice. When you return Y'Berion is dying.
His last words are to trust the Water Mages and that The Sleeper is "not what we think it is", rather some kind of arch-demon. Cor Kalom refuses to accept this and sets out with a group of Templars, determined to wake The Sleeper himself.
With these grave tidings you arrive at the New Camp and speak with Saturas, head of the Water Mages, who enlists you to help in their plan to destroy the barrier. The focus stone used in the invocation is but one of five and the others must be found in order to harness enough magical power to blow up the ore mound. They are scattered across the valley, hidden in ruins and other ancient places.
With the help of your new friends Lester, Gorn, Milten and Diego you find the stones, but even with all the focuses, the water mages alone cannot break the barrier. You must go to the Old Camp and plead with the Fire mages for help.
Chapter 4: Xardas
But all is not well at the Old Camp: Any who approach the gates are slain were they stand. The Old Mine has collapsed in a flood and with his source of power gone Gomez has panicked and sent his guards to take the Free Mine. The Magicians of Fire, opposing this plan, are murdered. Milten alone survives as he was outside the camp when it happened. Diego asks you to warn the others and tell them to meet at "the usual place".
With the Fire Mages gone, Saturas reluctantly tells you of ONE other option they have to lift the barrier. You must seek the help of Xardas, the Necromancer.
If you manage to defeat his elemental guardians, Xardas grants you an audience. While Saturas and Corristo were busy squabbling he was researching WHY the barrier grew beyond their control. The Sleeper cause a disturbance when it was summoned by five Orc shaman seeking to gain victory over their rivals. Xardas tells you to speak with an Orc who was recently banished from his village to find out more...
You find the exile, Ur-Shak, fending off an attack from his fellow-Orcs whom you gladly help dispatch. He is grateful for the assistance and explains he was banished for believing their god, The Sleeper , to be a "bad demon". The shaman who summoned him built an enormous subterranean temple to honour their new deity, but The Sleeper took their hearts and turned them into undead. The temple was sealed, but worship continued in the vain hope of appeasing the demon.
Ur-Shak warns that entering the temple by force will be impossible. He instructs you to create an " Ulu-Mulu", a white flag of sorts that will give you safe passage through the Orc village. A friend of his, a slave in the Free Mine, can tell you how to make one.
With Gorn's help you retake the mine from Gomez' men and find Ur-Shak's friend, Tarrok, hidden in one of the shafts. In exchange for some medecine he agrees to make you an Ulu-Mulu, but you need to collect a number of components...
Chapter 5: Guardians of the Portal
With the Ulu-Mulu in your hands you return to the Orc lands. Ur-Shak gives you some last minute advice on Orc-etiquette before you enter the village and then you make your way into the temple which, as expected, is filled with undead creatures.
After a first expedition (and the defeat of four of the five undead orc shaman) into the underground you return with a mysterious sword which Xardas identifies as " Uriziel", an ancient blade rumoured to once have harboured vast powers. To restore them, one would need an enormous amount of magical energy, like say the giant ore mound in the New Camp... To transfer this energy a special formula is needed. While Xardas prepares it you go out to fetch some more gear in preparation for the final battle.
Chapter 6: The Temple of the Sleeper
After charging the sword with the help of Milten, you descend into the temple once more and defeat the last of the shaman, eventually reaching The Sleeper whom Cor Kalom and his Templars are attempting to wake.
The five hearts of the shaman are the source of The Sleeper's power and each must be destroyed with the swords of the undead shaman to whom the hearts belonged.
Upon defeating The Sleeper, a cinematic shows the hero dealing a finishing blow and banishing the Sleeper back to where it came from, then making his escape as the temple collapses around him. The magical barrier is lifted. A voice-over suggests our hero makes it out alive. The sequel however begins with the hero buried in the temple ruins, to be revived by Xardas...
"Like Oblivion, but with good gameplay." - Jonathan Blow
The game received generally positive reviews and generated something of a cult-following in Europe, but was met with less enthusiasm in the United States, mostly because of weak (or actually even non-existent) marketing in the latter.
- Windows 98/ME/XP/2000
- Pentium II 400MHz Processor
- 128MB RAM
- 700MB Hard Disk Space
- 16MB 3D Accelerated Graphic Card
- 4X CD-ROM
- Pentium III 600MHz Processor
- 192MB RAM
- DirectX compatible Sound Card
- 32MB 3D Accelerated Graphic Card
Gothic has been re-released on the digital distribution services GOG.com and Steam.