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Forums > Submission Feedback > wolfqueen001's Eschalon Book II review

This thread is in response to a review for Eschalon Book II on the Miscellaneous. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 05, 2010 (01:20 PM)
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So here's my big question with this game.

Are there a bunch of skills (as you mention, mercantile, foraging, repair) that you NEVER want to invest in because the game will be much easier if you just focus on combat?

You've interested me enough to get this game (it's for the MAC, for god's sakes) but I'm hung up on this question. It wasn't clear from the review what your experience was with this, at least to me.

Not to say this isn't a good review, WQ. I actually think it shows a lot of improvement over your submission for the last tournament. It's a good combination of your detailed style of description mixed with a more casual tone that serves it well.

But if you could just let me know on that thing before I run out and spend my last 20.00...


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 05, 2010 (04:06 PM)
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The point of that paragraph / sectim was to demonstrate the necessity of balance between the non-combat and ease of venturing skills. However, I have reread this part of the review myself and see that I did not explicitly - or even implicitly - make that point, and this upsets me a little because the idea of balance is absolutely critical. Basically, investing in skills like foraging and repair and the like will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. In fact, I can say that without some of them, I probably would have run out of funds at some point without being able to recoup them and that would have meant another restart. (In a sense, that was partly - mainly even - why I had to restart the first time... The monsteres kicked my ass so much that I had to keep going back for repairs and eventually I ran out of money to do this).

However, it is also important to consider your type of character when investing in these skills. (I can't even say 'class' because there's just so much that goes into making your character). For example, if you're a fighter / thief / ranger you probably won't want to invest that much in alchemy because that's a skill that requires a lot of intelligence to actually make decent potions.

In other words, there's no such thing as a bad or even unnecessary skill. However, it's how you balance and distribute your points that determines your success. I'm kicking myself for not making that point clearer in the review. It's probably the most important point I could've made about the game.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. It's really a great game. Haha. Though I wouldn't call this review so much of an "improvement" over my last one. I do agree that it's much better than my last one, but "improvement" makes it sound like what I've written there is going to permamently reflect my writing of future reviews or something. This probably won't be the case Sadly, I feel that I have reached a point in my writing where any notion of "improvement" will be gradual and steady. Like, the quality of my stuff almost seems random sometimes. One day my review will be "meh" and average; the next it'll be pretty good. In a way, it's kind of unfortunate for me because I may never reach a status of truly "great" like some people around here. (Like, try as I might, I probably won't ever win a contest, regardless of how many I enter =/) But I'm not bad either, and on average, my reviews are probably better than some people's worst efforts.

Anyway, enough babbling over technicalities. I hope you decide to pick up the game. I think they released the Mac version about a month or so ago, so that should be worth a look.

EDIT: Ok, I added (well, EmP added. I just wrote it) a paragraph after the last one discussing skills and such. Before I move into scenery. I hope that helps clear things up. The balance really is an important point I can't stress enough.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 05, 2010 (06:45 PM)
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Good paragraph. Okay, it's bought. Seriously, take that as huge compliment, because I haven't bought a game now in over three months. I'm sooo broke*. But you convinced me beyond being able to help myself.

*note: I'm not complaining. I made a fucking film. Hell yeah. That's why I'm broke, though.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 05, 2010 (07:43 PM)
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Haha. I'm glad my piece was strong enough to convince you. =D

And I'm glad you were able to do something you'd always wanted with the movie thing.

EDIT: Check your HGmail


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 05, 2010 (07:59 PM)
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Check your HGMAIL.

I was too late. This is what eagerness will do for you!


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 05, 2010 (08:04 PM)
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No u! =D I love this game.

XD It's never too late. You'll see what I mean if you can cut through the rambling and understand the main points of what I'm getting at. XD


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 05, 2010 (08:40 PM)
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I'll be playing some tonight. I've been warned by several reviews now that I have to be excruiciatingly careful in leveling. We'll see how far I get.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 05, 2010 (09:05 PM)
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Sweet. Yeah. I'm glad I added that paragraph because that's something I was trying to get across, too. XD It is, frankly, a very, very delicate balance. But a challenging and fun one. Hopefully, if you make any mistakes, it'll be early on so that if you have to restart, it won't be a big deal.

Have several different save slots. haha. I think I had three by the end of the game, and that doesn't include the quicksave (which can glitch and delete itself sometimes, though this only happened once with me).


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 06, 2010 (01:18 AM)
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Well, I only got a little bit in. I took an hour and a half to watch Vantage Point (terrible film... 2/5 stars from me) and another half hour to let my jaw hang in amazement at the CGI our British team just sent back for Population 2. Wow. Just... wow.

Anyway, here's my quest so far. I haven't really done much, but I got very lucky on my character rolls, with almost all stats at 11 or 12 (max is 14) and only strength being low. Intelligence and Wisdom were each at 13, so I decided to play a mage.

I may have made a slight mistake in my first skill choices. I wasn't sure about how armour and magic worked in the game but I didn't want to quit to check online (I didn't want to lose my stats!) Similarly, having never played, I wasn't sure if magic would provide an adequate weapon or if I needed a back up.

I decided to play it safe. I took as my skills Arcane- Elemental, Bow, Meditation, and Lore. I boosted them to decent levels and began the game.

I'm actually fairly happy with my choices, but I'm not sure about having taken bow. I do like having a fully ranged character and the bow and magic combo is proving to be very powerful. I'm less certain about having NOT taken light armour. Armour doesn't seem to affect magic, but maybe I'm wrong on that...?


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 06, 2010 (02:19 AM)
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Here's something I don't understand. I'd like to use my own portrait for my character. But I don't quite get STEAM. Does it actually download the gaming folder to somewhere on my computer? It must, right? But then where the hell is it...


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: jerec
Posted: November 06, 2010 (03:16 AM)
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Gee, that picture in the focus window looks exciting!


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 06, 2010 (09:25 AM)
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Zipp: Yeah. You might struggle a little bit without an armor class. I don't remember if there's a skill for unarmored or if the skill just pertains to hand-to-hand fighting, but if there is, you could've taken that as well. Still, there's actually a special challenge that requires the mage class to not wear any heavy armor, so you might be OK.

Bow is a very risky side weapon to select. I actually found in my case that I was primarily killing things with my alternate weapon (either a knife or spear) because enemies would get in too close by the time I killed them. Also, arrows get used up very quickly and it can be quite expensive (after a while) to keep replenishing them. I found the bow to be best effective as a weakening instrument, and its critical strike skill that you get for leveling up the skill to ten was freaking awesome. But as a supplement to a mage, it probably wasn't the best choice. But, on the other hand, being a mage, you're likely not going to have as much defense anyway, so staying as far away from the enemy as possible is almost certainly a good thing. So, it really depends on how you play I guess. Try it out for a while; if it starts to become a problem, then, well, I guess you learned your lesson. =P

A tip: There's actually a trainer later on that will tach you bow skill among other things. But training is expensive early on, so keep that in mind.

The rest of your stuff looks pretty interesting, though. Since you'll be pumping a lot into intelligence, though, Lore might not be as essential to you as it would have been to someone like me. But the intelligence and skill complement each other, so I really can't say what the right balance is.

As for the magic, you should be pretty set with that as long as you keep up with hte latest spells (if you need them). I've actually read that mages work out quite well because of their range and the strength of their spells. So the elemental magic might really be enough as a weapon; however, it is always good to have a physical backup in case you run out of mana. I would also invest at least one point into Divination at some point (but don't use your skill points to do this) so that you can learn the healing spell, which even I found to be useful despite having lousy intelligence (so it would only go up by like 3-6 points per cast, but it was cheap enough that it didn't matter. In your case, even at level one, it should be much stronger). There's a trainer later in the game that can teach divination to you, so just go to her if you want it. A single point will be much cheaper than trying to level the whole set that way. (Trainers only teach up to level 8 anyway).

I don't know anything about the character portrait thing. I just used whatever options they gave me. I kind of wondered if you could use your own creation for that, but didn't see a way to do it so I didn't bother. I ddin't care that much anyway. I also didn't download this through Steam, so maybe it's different there.

Jerec: >=O You find a better one then! You won't because none of the pics online will be the right size. I took that as a screenshot! lol (and cropped it because in its entirety, it would've been hideous!)

Now say something useful. =D


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 06, 2010 (10:38 AM)
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Yeah, the reason I choose bow was because it used dexterity and concentration, which are much higher than my speed and strength. It's the one point I'm iffy on, but I think if I really just rely on magic, I might be okay. I do think my first level I will nab light armour.

I also wish I'd taken alchemy instead of lore. Aside from that, I think I'm quite happy with the choices.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 06, 2010 (10:43 AM)
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That's good. And you can learn alchemy off a trainer later, too, so don't worry about that.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 06, 2010 (12:09 PM)
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Ha, well I restarted. The whole range thing wasn't working out because in groups enemies close fast and then both my arrows and spells became much less effective.

So, restarted. This time I'm mostly the same character, but I started with slightly different stats and different skills. Meditation I kept, and Elementalism is still my main spell, but I also took alchemy and light armour and bludgeoning weapons.

Already I'm doing much better.

I'm debating going for lock picks, because it's annoying having to bash through all these treasure chests, but then I'd also like to go for lore because it's damn expensive to identify items (even with my intelligence score of 19 I still can't identify many items).

IT's good to see a game where every skill is desireable. In fact, the combat skills I grudgingly take only because I know I won't live without them.

Which reminds me, I forgot to get some treasure chests inside the old well behind the church. Dammit, have to go back tonight...


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 06, 2010 (04:32 PM)
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Lock picking is handy, but it's up to you. You can also cast magic on the chests and doors to break them. At least then you don't have to repair a weapon. There's also a spell you can get that'll destroy locks.

Also, there are books you can find or buy that'll teach you some skills. When you use them is up to you though.

You seem to be doing well, though, so that's good. I'm debating how much of these little hints I've been giving you I should actually give out. Like, I want you to figure this stuff out on your own so that it's more fun for you, but at the same time, I like helping. So let me know if the stuff I've been telling is too much.

And yeah. I agree about your sentiments on the skills. I know my review made it sound like the combat ones were important, but the reality is that all of them are in some way or another. (I'm even more glad i added that paragraph now, haha). But yeah. That's why I tried to limit my combat skills to two professions, so that they can be properly focused while balancing the other useful skills in my repertoire.

EDIT: Oh. What version did you get? I had 1.04, but I think 1.05 has an expansion, and that only came out a few weeks ago.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 06, 2010 (05:31 PM)
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I really appreciate all the hints! I don't mind restarting my game after the first couple of levels and dungeons, but when I'm level 15 and have explored half the world, I'm not going to be happy if I decide I'm stuck!

I did take Lore and it's made life much nicer. I think I won't take lock picking. My dexterity isn't high this time around and bludgeoning weapons can break chests and doors (takes a long time and hurts the weapon, but still, I think it's better not to cross match too many abilities).

The other two skills I'm very tempted to take on an upcoming level up are cartography and foraging. Cartography would just make exploring dungeons and the overworld much more cohesive, while foraging would solve a major problem I'm having right now: food.

Food is seriously the thing that has me most concerned right now. As a mage (primarily) I have to sleep a lot to restore Mana and that's fine... but it drains hunger fast! I do wish the inn had an "eat" option that you could spend money on, which is currently my only complaint about the game.

Anyway, foraging would also give me the occasional alchemy ingredient, the game says, which would be cool.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 06, 2010 (07:14 PM)
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Cartography is a fun skill. In fact, it was one of my favorites to experiment with because I loved seeing how much more detailed the map would become after another level. However, I just hought all of my mapping skills.

Foraging is very handy, but it does take a little bit of leveling to become useful (around 5 is good), at least if you're looking for alchemy. There will be noticeable reduction in hunger / thirst decreases at the first level, though (I think). But you can train that up too if you find the right person.

The inn actually does restore your hunger and thirst bars after you sleep there, but you can't sleep in the first town's inn at all, which is kind of a pain because you spend a lot of time there, but oh well.

Oh. I'm sure you figured this out already, but if you click on signs or odd landmarks (usually huge monoliths in the middle / outside of towns), that'll add stuff to your quick traveling menu. Quick traveling just makes things faster but isn't necessary. It also drains hunger/thirst and damages your boots.

Anyway, if you want to know where the trainers are, I can tell you, but for now, I'll just keep on the way I have been. You probably haven't even reached the areas where they're located yet.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 06, 2010 (07:21 PM)
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Yeah, I don't need specifics of locations and what not. That stuff is fun to discover on my own. More I appreciate the tips on leveling and using skills. I think I'll take foraging for my next level.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: jerec
Posted: November 06, 2010 (08:09 PM)
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"Now say something useful. =D "

You obviously don't know me very well. :P


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 07, 2010 (01:24 AM)
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Well, I finally found another town. Took me forever because I got confused by a map and went towards the Farrock Range, unsuccessfully trying several times to cross it. Finally I decided it was too far beyond my ability and started to explore west... and there found the roadsigns that pointed to all the nearby villages.

At this point I'm roughly level 7 with a fairly balanced set of stats (Intelligence being the extreme high and Dexterity being low). I'm not really sure where I want to put my next set of attribute points. I don't know if its helpful to have a skill at, say, 30 points or if it's better to try and balance out weaker stats. I'll probably default to building up strength, because it's always useful. Endurance and Concentration are also high on the list.

I've got a 1000 gold pieces, which feels really nice. My next goal is to find a better bludgeoning weapon than the quarterstaff I've currently got equipped. Then, if possible, I'd like to find a more powerful damaging spell. Right now I'm pretty reliant on Fire Dart, but it's draining my Mana quickly and after a few battles I have to rest to do anything useful.

My other plan is to simply keep pumping points into elemental until I can cast Fire Dart at level five (which I think does between 20-40 damage). I'm still debating taking the skill Divination, but I'm not really sure I want to try and dual-magic. It just seems... costly, experience-wise. Have to keep Wisdom AND Intelligence high and Elemental AND Divination high... not sure it's worth it. I can't use blesses, anyway, because I'm an aethiest.

No, at this point I'd rather pump skill points into raising the levels of things I already have, with Elemental, Light Armor, and Bludgeoning taking priority. If someone handed me another skill for free, I'd really like to try Cartography. Everything else I've pretty much decided I won't get a shot at this game. Well, not unless I find someone who trains in those skills. But I'm wary of spending any more levels on new skills.

I noticed in your review you say there are a limited number of enemies in the game. Is this true? Not to call you out, or anything, but many times, in passing back through an area in the overland, I'll come across enemies in spots where I already cleared everything. Maybe they were just hiding in another part of the map, though. A better question would be: how did you figure this out, that enemies don't respawn?


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 07, 2010 (12:55 PM)
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New this morning: there is no way I'm paying a 1000 crowns to get inside the Port town. No way.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 07, 2010 (01:05 PM)
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At first, I tried balancing my attributes out and then realized it wasn't working, so I wound up just balancing all my lesser skills to around 15 and pumping the main ones for my character (in my case, dexterity, strength and some endurance).

As far as I'm aware, monsters do not respawn. I have, on occasion, come across an enemy I assumed I'd missed, but once I've cleared out an area, if I ran into anything at all, it was never in the numbers that I had encountered before. This is easier to pick up on once you have cartography at level 2 or 3 when the map will color in all the empty space as green for the land you're walking on. This allows you to systematically sweep the area without getting confused or lost.

There is, however, a chance that you'll get random encounters while camping, regardless of whether the area's cleared or not. But even these are kind of rare. (They also suck, so I often just reloaded if I wound up in a "random" encounter).

For Port Kuudad, you don't have to pay the fee, and in fact it's not recommended. I'll let you try to figure out a better method before revealing anything further, though. =P If it makes you feel any better, it took me FOREVER to figure out how to enter that town. I eventually gave up and looked it up online. =/

What was the other town you said you found? (Besides the port city, unless that was what you were referring to.)

EDIT: If monsters really are respawning for you, then maybe it has to do with the version of hte game you have. If you have 1.05, then that might explain a lot. You'll also have an expansion available that isn't related to the main quest, so I dunno how it'd work. But if you have 1.04, then I don't really have an explanation.

You may not know which version you have though simply because you downloaded it through Steam, and I don't know that Steam provides that specific information.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: November 07, 2010 (03:18 PM)
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I found the Steam folder last night (under library, apps, application support, steam, usual content... for christ's sake...). I added a picture of our main actress in (helps to have a familiar face) and I have version 1.05:


Version 1.05 or higher contains new game content, "The Secret of Fathamurk", not available in the original release. The new content is located beneath the Farrock Caves, which you will come upon during normal game play. If you want more information on this new content, please visit the FAQ online at: http://www.basiliskgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4374


I've been in the caves. Not sure if that's the new content...?

Anyway, the other town I found was Everdale... Everglade... Ever... something... it's in the woods and there's a Lycanthrope there.

Yeah, I figured there has to be another way into the port city. I'm going to head back up and do some exploring.

I kind've hope there ARE respawns, at least limited respawning monsters. While I enjoy the challenge of stating a good character, it's nice to know that you have some back up or some wriggle room. Actually, I'm getting the sense there is a little bit of wriggle room.

I'm also glad I didn't take cartography. I found a compass at a shop and picked it up so I have limited cartography skill. I'm doing a similar thing with a diviner's hat, though it's mostly to give me access to Cat's Eyes which is really helpful in the dungeons and at night.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: November 07, 2010 (03:34 PM)
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Ah, okay. Yeah; since you have 1.05, there might be a few new (perhaps minor) changes in addition to the new content (such as more respawning, but you'll have to do some experimenting to verify that for sure). I don't think the caves themselves are that content, though, because I've been through the Farrock Caves myself and didn't really find anything special (except for a really wicked boss). I would advise exploring them fully if you can, though. And not just for the new content (which I think would be too tough for you right now anyway).

I imagine the new content will be accessible through some other means: perhaps a secret passage or some such that wasn't there in the version I played.

Nice job finding Everdale, too. That was one of my favorite places, perhaps for the Lycanthrope quest more than anything else. How'd you handle that quest, anyway? There's a few ways to go about it. I think the way I did it got me the most experience, but I could be wrong.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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