Jan 31, 2013

Monthly RL: Tales of Maj'Eyal

I thought I should get back to playing those roguelikes. And what would be a better game to start with than the one that has won the Ascii Dreams Roguelike of the Year title three times in a row and is now finally out of beta.

I did try Tales of Maj'Eyal a little bit couple years ago actually, but since DarkGod was pushing out new releases so often, I thought I should wait for the 1.0 before delving further into this, likely a massive, roguelike. And so the day came. Eventually.

My lack of playing roguelikes definitely shows. I've been getting way too upset of losing characters in ToME and I haven't even gotten that far yet. I reached level 10 today finally as a dwarf bulwark but then I got killed right after by some named slime's disease DoT. Which it applied on me before I destroyed it. So frustrating.

The bulwark is definitely my favorite class so far, though. Both the berserker and the rogue felt so much squishier than the guy with a shield. Other than that, jumping into another class isn't difficult, even though there at first seems to be a lot of information to chew on. I found the talent system very familiar, however. Quite similar to Dragon Age: Origins. I can see World of Warcraft in there as well.

Funnily enough, my experience with WoW ended up costing me couple good items on my first character. I thought gray items were vendor trash and sold them before realizing I should've identified them instead. Not sure what rarity or quality yellow items are but the stats at least were good.

In general, I'm not entirely sure how the item system works. I felt I could not trust items of a presumably rarer color to be better and had to compare every item with my current equipment before vendoring them.

The visuals of the game I do not like. The default 64x64 tileset is detailed and gear even shows up on your character. You need a very large screen resolution to use the largest set if you want to see more than few cells of the level, though. And even with the shake-animations, your character is just a flat sprite laying on his back in the dungeon. I really dislike tiles.

It doesn't help that the terrain tiles are vapid. The palettes used in all of the areas so far have been quite uninspiring. Also, annoying enough, high terrain (like trees) is able to hide stuff that is in the cell north from it. The ASCII mode has no such problem but I found the font used to be absolutely horrendous. ASCII really felt out of place with all of the GUI elements anyway.

And even with the tiles, the look of ToME is mixed. The talent icons -- while descriptive and nice on their own -- don't go well with the dull maps. Add in the spell effects, the rather detailed UI, and you have quite a mess in there. I ended up settling on the 32x32 tileset. I also changed the font used from "Fantasy" to "Basic".

The sound effects are passable, though sometimes monster sounds seem to come from a totally random direction. The musics are nice; I get Witcher vibes from couple tracks. The looping of the same track made me reduce the music volume, however.

The in-game chat is a very cool feature. It makes you feel like you were playing with other people. The achievement spam is really not necessary, however, and should not be on by default, in my opinion. Same goes for the death messages, although they at least have some amusement value.

The game plays well enough, although I'd prefer not using the mouse. If I were to use the mouse for moving, I'd like the game to hilight the cell the cursor is over. But as the game doesn't do that (afaik), I shall keep using the keyboard for that and switch to the mouse when managing inventory and whatnot. Digging also seems to force mouse targeting. Another minor complaint.

I think I will keep playing Tales of Maj'Eyal every now and then. Maybe one day Durin will even beat the game.

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