The Temple of Elemental Evil is full of deadly crayfish

temple of ee crayfish death

Seems like Divinity: Original Sin from Larian Studios is the latest talk of the town this past week, especially over at Giant Bomb, my go-to for influence on trying out games I’ve never even heard of. It’s the newest and latest CRPG, which stands for computer role-playing game if you didn’t know, a genre that is not as common these days or, if it is, not as talked about. Evidently, the game’s developers used Kickstarter to help raise additional funds, acquiring over $1 million, a pretty hefty sum of cash that makes me think about just how much money Double Fine got for Broken Age, an old-school point-and-click game, another genre you don’t see in the spotlights these last few years. All it takes is support from fans, so let’s now get that Suikoden VI ball a-rollin’.

It’s been described as “hardcore overhead Skyrim,” which more or less means adding Dragon Age: Origins and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim together–you get tactics, you get openness, and you get a lot of content to devour. Alas, I’m not in the mood to buy a brand new game, even if it is only retailing for $40 on Steam, and besides, I have a massive backlog–hey now!–so surely I have something similar enough to Divinity: Original Sin in there that could quench my curiosity-limned thirst for the time being. And yes, I was right. Hello, there The Temple of Elemental Evil.

If you’ll recall, I played Icewind Dale II some seasons back, covering the first sixty minutes of gameplay for The First Hour. In the end, I liked the dialogue trees, but hated mostly everything else. I got it from Good Old Games during a  “buy one Dungeons & Dragons game, get The Temple of Elemental Evil for free” campaign. My first dip into old-school RPGing didn’t prove a great time, but since then I’ve played a few more really fun D&D sessions with friends and am more aware of some of the rules and restrictions. Plus, I promised to try The Temple of Elemental Evil at some point, so here we go.

The Temple of Elemental Evil begins, as all games did in in the early 2000s, with an epic CGI intro. It’s basically a big war scene, with wizards and soldiers and goblins and two-head trolls and even darker things amassing on the battlefield and fighting to the death, and it ends with some horrifying demon dude getting locked–and magically sealed–in a temple. If I was to refer to the game’s Wikipedia, it would say this, “An evil demoness founded a cult dedicated to exploring evil in its most elemental forms. This cult was based in a temple just outside the village of Hommlet in a vile shire known as Nulb. Soon, this cult rose to rule the region with tyranny and grim times of chaos and violence ensued. Hard-fought battles were waged and the war was eventually won by the good armies of nearby lands. The temple was razed, the villains were imprisoned, and order was restored. The temple itself faded into distant memory. Until now…”

Yeah, I never really picked up on any of that. Evidently, this is based on a famous Greyhawk adventure, using the D&D 3.5 ruleset.

But before the crystal clear story could start unfolding, I did the Tutorial section, a separate menu option. Here, the game taught me many of the basics, like how to walk, how to open doors and chests, how to loot, how to attack enemy rats, how to make friends and chat, and so on. Alas, I never comprehended how to cast Magic Missile, and so I died fast in a room full of zombies, unable to complete the Tutorial. On well, I’m sure not knowing how to properly cast magic spells won’t bite me in the ass later on. Forward, to the main meat!

Just like in Icewind Dale II, picking your party members is both the first thing you do and the most intimidating part of the adventure. I went with all lawful good people, three men and two women. I think they were all different classes, but two might have both been warriors or whatever you call those decked out in shiny armor. This is one problem I have with these large party-based RPG adventures–it can be hard to keep everyone separate, and it’s more like a mass of names and faces rather than actual personalities and such.

The very first mission has your band of merry men and women fighting off some bandits raiding a traveling caravan, and I did this with ease by simply clicking on them until they died. Next, the group traveled to the village of Hommlet, which is a quite sizable place. Here, we explored a bit, spoke to some people and got clues about other places to go, though our main mission is finding the rest of those bandits, as they kidnapped some women and children. I then mistakenly decided to look at the map and click on the Emridy Meadows, a place mentioned to me by someone in a tavern. Suddenly, my group began moving across the map, getting halfway there and stopped by a pop-up menu that said, “2X Crayfish.” I clicked okay and unfortunately found everyone in a one-sided fight against two giant crayfish. My team was able to take one down with extreme losses, and the second crayfish killed everybody left standing. Again, here is where it might have been handy to know how to properly cast magic.

Well, no problem, I thought, I’d just reload my save and not travel to the Emridy Meadows just yet, certainly not until my party has leveled up and gotten some better armor/weapons. Alas, no. Ha ha nope. Clearly I forgot I was playing a ten-year-old videogame and I never made a manual save during my gaming time, and the only auto-save in the list is right at the start of the fight with the crayfish. Thanks, The Temple of Elemental Evil. Though maybe I’ll try again. I think I just need to really play slower and pay attention more to every move I make. Again, I love all the dialogue, and there’s some pretty good voice acting here. I think I even ran into a Scottish bard in one of Hommlet’s homes, which is enough to get me to revisit this down the line.

That said, maybe I’m not ready for Divinity: Original Sin just yet. Or I should at least wait until the game drops in price or goes on sale. I don’t know how similar they are to Icewind Dale II and The Temple of Elemental Evil, but I also have a trio of Ultima games downloaded and uninstalled at the moment. Hmm. Maybe I’ll try one of them soonish if I get that itch again for some old-school RPGing.

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