by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
One of our quests saw us bump into the terribly drunk Olaf. He was hanging out at a graveyard and wanted to raise his deceased girlfriend back from the dead. Instead of talking sense into the guy and warning him about the dangers of necromancy, we were totally in for a bit of weirdness and embraced the idea of raising of the dead. Unsurprisingly, our ‘boldness’ went up a notch immediately. Olaf mentioned that we should sing to awaken the dead and - enjoying our newfound boldness - we responded accordingly.
Naturally, things did not turn out quite the way we had expected and we found ourselves fighting a turn-based battle in the spirit world. Victory conditions vary per battle, ranging from utterly defeating your enemy to surviving a number of turns. In this case, our goal was to defend Olaf’s ghostly girlfriend by defeating the other dead spirits we had awoken.
At first glance, combat looks similar to turn-based staples such as King’s Bounty and Might & Magic. Your units are placed upon a map that is riddled with objects and obstructions. Rivers, for example, are harder to cross and standing on elevated grounds will add to your offensive and defensive strengths. Attacks will not only do regular damage, but also ‘terror-damage’ to the receiver, as well as anyone standing nearby. If your units get punched in the nose hard enough, some will start fleeing, some classes quicker than others.
We succeeded in defeating the spirits and talked to the dead girlfriend. She had no way of returning to the world of the living but had some rather crass words for her boyfriend, telling him to get on with his life. We went back and told the poor bugger exactly what she had said, half fearing it would freak him out. He was ecstatic to hear from her, yelling “that’s my girl!”. Everything done, we received our quest reward and increases to our boldness and honesty traits.
As our (anti) hero leveled up, we were able to choose from new abilities that benefitted either our character or our supporting army. Experience gained in battles is not shared between the entire army but given to the achievement of individual units. Experienced units can train at Battle Masters that can be found throughout the game world, at the cost of only a modest amount of gold.
Runemaster has only just reached alpha stage, which means that very little of what we saw is set in stone. What is there, though, is looking pretty exciting already. The procedural quest generation system - in my eyes the star of the game - looks firm, especially when you consider the incredible attention to script writing. Paradox Development Studio seems to be making all the right choices for creating the perfect blend between RPG, adventure and strategy game and I can’t wait to see more of it.