Game Progress 12/21/17: Pre-Christmas Edition
December 21, 2017

Arx Fatalis (PC)
I made my way through Akbaa's temple, noticing some items called Akbaa Stones or something like that along the way. I left one on a dead body to make space for merchant fodder and took the other with me. I couldn't find a use for it during my time in the temple, and so decided to sell it later. Bad move.

Anyway, after tinkering with some golems and slicing up cultists, I reached the boss chamber. One of the good guys outed himself as a turn coat, and summoned a demon for me to fight. It was a pretty rough battle, and mostly consisted of me running backwards, slashing and casting the heal spell repeatedly. I did eventually topple the beast and attempted to touch the meteor. Of course, it didn't go as planned, so I began the next phase of the campaign.

I needed to find a pair of rings that would allow me to destroy the meteor that the cultists plan to use to incarnate Akbaa. My search eventually led me to a rebel village hiding behind an obvious secret door in the lake level of the caves. A cutscene or two later, I was off to find the Shield of the Ancients, which I could exchange for one of the rings. That meant delving into the crypt.

The game does a fair job of building up the crypts to be some deadly place, even though it isn't early on. The first level consists of nothing but rats and a couple of basic puzzles. Booooo! It gets irksome by level two, though. You see, I'd been neglecting wooden stakes for a while now. I thought they were just another of the many useless items that might pass as simple merchant fodder, but the truth is they're the only thing that can permanently stop zombies. The crypt, as you can imagine, is crawling with these things, and as a result I needed to leave and purchase a few stakes. After returning and slaying some walkers, I underwent another simple switch puzzle and moseyed on to the next floor of the crypt.

Here I bumped into some more puzzles, including one where I had to place runes on pedestals and throw some levers that control wheels with sigils on them. After lining everything up properly, I grabbed the shield and left. As I approached the stairs leading out, a lich appeared and starting kicking my ass. The two of us fought for what felt like ages. He'd wear me down, I'd heal myself and kill his zombie minions (and stake them, of course), and it seemed like neither of us was getting anywhere. Finally, I cut loose a critical blow that felled him once and for all, and I moonwalked out of the crypt with the shield in my bag.

One ring down, one to go.

The other ring was in the possession of the snake women. They sent me through a funhouse of riddles and illusions, most of which were very clever. A few of them stumped me for a bit, like a hallway that warps you back to its beginning when you pass a certain point. However, only one puzzle had me looking for a walkthrough because I overlooked a lever early in the dungeon. At last, that lever led to a puzzle that led to an event item that gained me the second ring and a fight against a couple of snake women sentinels. There wasn't much to it, since they had low defense. I swiped once and nailed both, killing them instantly.

With the two rings, I returned to the temple and found it crawling with super tough magical humans called "ylsides" (pronoucned ILL-SID). I wish I could say that the ylsides were nothing, but that's not at all correct. They were nightmares, all of them. You couldn't go toe-to-toe with even one of them because his superior defense, crazy speed buff spell and superlative strength was insurmountable. They'd chop you to ribbons unless you were prepared to use tons of potions, which are best left for the final battle.

I eventually learned that there is a hidden spell in the game called Ice Field that progressively damages foes and kills ylsides within seconds. At first, I'd cast the spell and did the best I could to mitigate damage while the dumb ylsides stood on the ice shards I'd generated on the floor. Sometimes they perished, others they killed me before they croaked themselves. I also discovered a spell that allows you to generate a barrier that blocks any enemies. The Ice Field also extends beyond the barrier, damaging anything that might try to pass through it, like a dumb ylside. Of course, this combo drained my mana like no other, so I had to rest after each encounter. It's worth it to kill as many ylsides as possible, though, as they provide 500 experience--more than any other non-boss or special creature.

I eventually shattered the meteor and collected its dust. The next phase of the game involved building the ultimate weapon. I needed a dragon egg, the meteor dust I just collected (called "koltk powder") and some mithril. Since I already had the dust, I decided to visit the dragon. She was difficult to find, but hid in an ice cave near a friendly troll I met earlier in the campaign. I had to cast levitate at a certain point to reach an inaccessible portion of the cave, then climb a frozen ramp and knock down a pillar of ice. The dragon told me she'd only part with an egg if I paid her an amount of gold equal to her scales. That required me to march back to the kingdom and read a book in a library, then backtrack to the dragon and pay her.

Lastly, finding the mithril was actually thrilling (mithrilling?). I had to outrun a black monster that instantly kills, perform some basic platforming above a lava lake and raid a mutilated dwarf corpse. From there, I padded down a hallway and reached a place with a mechanical press. I had a hell of a time getting this section to work because it's difficult to tell what to do. There's place where you have to insert an event item, though you wouldn't even think to look there. I ascended a ladder after that and waited for the creature to wander under the press, so I could throw a switch and crush it. The hell of it is it walks at random and never passes under the press. A walkthrough stated that I had to place some of the flesh of the dwarf I looted earlier, which I had, under the press. I did that, but either he would eat it too quickly and the press would miss or he would act as though the meat weren't there. After some reloading, I eventually got the creature to take the bait and smashed it.

I looted and searched, then headed on to the mines to grab the mithril and the creature returned. It followed me back to the press room, where I opened a grate in the floor that was previously stuck (I guess it was jarred loose during the previous encounter). The dumb creature fell into the pit, which contained lava, and burned horribly to death.

The rest of this segment is pretty technical. I had to cut some mithril out of a wall (it was a pain in the ass to find), send it to the press via teleporter, crush it into small pieces, used some of the pieces to create a mithril bar and combined that bar with a two-handed sword mold to craft a two-handed mithril sword that blew my axe out of the water. I had the option to take the sword to the snake women for enchanting, but that required selling out the rebels. I enchanted it myself by applying the koltk powder and the dragon egg, then removing any of my magic-hampering equipment and casting the enchantment. Bam! Ultimate weapon: damage rating 40.

During the course of these events, I managed to get some ylside armor, which was more than three times powerful than what I had, and a decent helmet. All of this equipment was indestructible, too. The final combo of armor, helmet and sword allowed me to battle the ylsides in melee combat without much trouble. With all of that done, I entered the final dungeon.

The last stage was a small area, and it didn't take me long to snuff everything out. I entered the final puzzle before the boss and found that I needed some event items. Those event items turned out to be the Akbaa Stones I neglected/sold before. There are only five in the game, and I needed all of them. I backtracked to the temple and snagged the one I left on a corpse. There was another in the temple guarded by a lich that I didn't previously find. I remedied that and tried to remember what I did with the third one from the temple. After some brain straining, I realized I sold it to a merchant on the floor after the lake. Thankfully, buying it back only set me back a few gold pieces. The last two I recovered in the final dungeon, allowing me to place them all and take on Akbaa.

The battle was somewhat of an anticlimax, but still worthwhile. He cast a harm spell that drained my HP to nothing before I learned how to avoid it. Beyond that, he summoned demons that were more pesky than dangerous. I hacked them apart and wore him down, making sure to save scum even though I didn't need to. Once I caught my rhythm, Akbaa was toast.

And that's that. Game finished and finally.... FINALLY.... off my backlog.

Remaining in a dream (PC)
While most of you are spending your time playing quality AAA games, I've been playing through the cheesiest FPS ever created. Jealous? You shouldn't be. Please shoot me. (I beat this, by the way).

Hazen: The Dark Whispers (PC)
As predicted, I finished the game. The closing stage was extremely boring, and the final boss was what you would expect from a lackluster hack 'n slash RPG.

Serious Sam: The Random Encounter (PC)
I tried to play through this really short RPG, but I couldn't make it. It's a really tedious, overly cheap game that, despite its brand, is pretty dull. Honestly, I'd rather just play through a standard Serious Sam game. I did make it close to the end, from what I gathered. Unfortunately, I couldn't stomach anymore of it.

Huntsman: The Orphanage (PC)
I've always wanted to start this game, and now I have. I'm not far, though, as all I've done is open a few doors and find a key.

Escape Goat (PC)
I reinstalled the game and started afresh. In about two wonderful hours, I completed all of the challenges this puzzle-platformer had to offer. It's well worth playing if you dig the genre.

Ultratron (PS4)
I beat the third boss and tried my hand at the last area. My interest waned because this game is the same story over and over again. I finally decided I had had enough of its repetition, and thus crossed it off my backlog. I only recommend this game if you're hankering for another Robotron/Berzerk/Smash TV clone. It's not terrible, but it grows tiresome after a while.

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pickhut pickhut - December 24, 2017 (07:57 PM)
Escape Goat was a pretty fun, short challenge when I played it a few years back. Everything is hazy now, but I remember a very specific stage that gave me so much trouble: I had to fall towards a bottomless pit and do a very specific set of jumps. Took me forever to complete that one stage. Intended to do a review afterwards, but the opportunity got away from me with other distractions. Was going to dive into the second game, but never got that chance, as well.

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