Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Game 26: Rings of Power (Genesis) - Should Have Been on PC

Rings of Power is a staggering feat. The developers strove to build a world filled with danger, lore, and mystery stretching across a landscape that spoke to the breadth of their design. Unfortunately, they also seemed to have rushed some parts, like balancing combat... or combat in general.
This is a constant occurrence
The accursed black priests are around nearly every corner. While I don't think I fully understand how combat is supposed to work, when random encounters have a high chance of wiping out the party before they can even act, something is wrong. Four times last night my party was wiped out without getting a word in edgewise, wasting over an hour, mostly because I kept forgetting to save. Fleeing doesn't always seem to work, even after everyone has had a chance to run, and trying to take out enemies at least four levels ahead doesn't seem viable. I'll write more about combat once I've collected all my party members, but currently I believe it's the greatest shortcoming of an otherwise intriguing game.
I'll be amazed when I please, and I won't have you telling me so
Combat aside I've been enjoying the journey around the main continent. I stumbled upon Tsalami's grave and delivered the corpse (whether it was Tsalami's or not I'm not sure). While this let me speak to Guildmaster Flemm, he wouldn't release his student until I'd guaranteed the support of the enchanters guild. This was a trend that continued as the enchanters required the conjurers toss their hat in as well. I'm sure the conjurers would request proof that necromancers were in if I could finish the quest to get to the headmaster. At least I didn't leave Flemm empty handed; I received the necromancer's guild symbol as proof of their involvement.
Making camp sets the time to dusk or dawn, heals the party some, and so far has no chance of random encounters, but takes a bit of food
My trip from east shore to west brought me past a large structure that housed indentured servants. They reminded me very much of house elves with their self degradation, but they made the most beautiful rugs; at least I figured they had to be for what they're charging. I ran through everything to do (which is surprisingly little) in the City of Perfection (conjurors), City of Kaos (enchanters), the City of Speed (archers), and Cathedral. Cathedral dumped a lot of clues and hints on various subjects (mostly the rings) while the other cities seemed only to support the recruitment of other characters.
Anyone else with me on that comparison?
Guess I'll come back once I find a ruby
The path to see the master conjuror is a bit more complex than any other, and I still haven't completed it. I know I need a key from a restaurant owner (not sure how he got the key in the first place) that unlocks the door she's behind. He wants to trade it for some flame wood, which is said to reside in the fire cave. Through a couple of clues found in the Library of Perfection, I have the general location and a lead on more information. That lead turned into another lead where I'm now searching for something called the Lobotomy Club. I'm not even sure where to start looking for that one.
So, I tried something new with these two screenshots...
Let me know which is better, and I'll try to accommodate (the first is easier, but I have a feeling the second will look better)
Enchanters are a chaotic bunch that thrive on change and chance. Their city (Kaos), exemplifies this with their temple, which is divided in half: one in service to Nexus, and the other to Void. Master Xylotyl was checked out until I was able to save his secretary's immortal soul from the pull of Void. This involved a trip to Cathedral to learn of a mirror that can break the powerful hold evil has on a soul. The mirror, however, was stored away safely long ago, and I was forced to track it down across two cities. Shown his current nature, the secretary snapped out of his evil fervor and strangely requested a bingo card (easily retrieved from the academy's tower). Once completely back to normal (still not sure how a bingo card does that), he informed me Xylotyl is always on the top of the tower at night. Of course, that isn't always the case until I complete that quest, as I found out trying to skip it all after a game over. For all my trouble I received the enchanter's symbol, which I later used to recruit Mortimer, the necromancer.
I just realized on subsequent attempts I wasn't attacked, and don't have this whip anymore (whatever it does)
The City of Speed was a straightforward affair. Many archers were recently taken captive by a group of bandits. One of those bandits was captured, but wouldn't tell anyone where they were based. Mines of Misery, the name of the location, was all they could get out of him. Luckily, when I came to interrogate him, he quickly said he'd spill the beans if I slipped him a flip stone. Flip stones teleport the user to the nearest gateway (a circle of stones), and are available at the general store in town. While I'm uncertain of another way to get a map to the cave, I took the easy way out and gave him a stone. Strangely no one seemed to notice he went missing. I gave the map to the archer master, and received the archer's symbol and permission to marr... I mean recruit Feather.
I have a feeling I might see Lenny later
While contemplated where a cave could fit on the map between Speed and Cathedral, I decided to run a few flip stones out to Kaos. Each town has an item or two that they produce, and another item or two they're "in need of," so knowing where to get the best price for an item isn't too difficult. Strangely though, this is the first time I found a place to purchase an item in need by another city. Well, there goes my funding problem. Of course, I still have the unfortunate encounters with random beggars and tax collectors to deal with (not to mention instant death). Luckily I found out that both are satisfied if I agree to pay them even if I only have 0 gold.
Oh, I also found the sextant behind this waterfall, so smooth sailing from here on out
I eventually stumbled upon the Mines of Misery in a fairly nondescript location in the mountains between Speed and Cathedral. Inside were individual fights with black priests that ramped up to a fight with three of them. This was a difficult fight for just two characters, and I'm sure I would not have survived this part of the game if I didn't completely bypass it by shouting over their shoulders. Imagine, if you will, this scene. I climbed down the ladder in the dank musty mines. My path blocked by three hooded figures. Huddled behind them, partially wounded, were the lieutenant archer and Feather. I shouted, "hey Feather! Come with me!" The other archer intervened, suggesting I was a spy, of all things. Thankfully she recognized the archer's symbol, and Feather immediately joined my party. I then selected camp from the menu and found myself outside, dungeon done. Ultimate battle averted. I'm not sure if I was meant to get past it in this way, or come back with more companions. Recruiting each character is an independent activity, so it seems possible to get them in any order.
Completely dreading having to do this for the third time because I died again and still couldn't remember to save after I was done
Honestly, I'm thankful for the quick exit, and the ability to skip that small battle. Combat overall rewards paltry sums of experience (2 - 3 points per character) and gold (20 - 30 so far). I can easily double my gold on a good trip from Speed to Kaos, and I've been getting about 150 experience for each character I've recruited. Buc is now about halfway to max level. Experience levels have a linear progression, so I suspect random battles will eventually provide better experience; otherwise, I hope collecting the rings gives an equal or greater amount. While I complain about the random combat, half the time the enemy is visibly riding a dino or steering a ship, and real random encounters happen infrequently. In fact, this game offers some of the lowest encounter rates I've ever seen.
Of course, when random combat means instant death it's only a small consolation
I have about three or four pages of one line notes in notepad to sort through before I get back to playing. The lobotomy club is my next stop, but I've sailed back to the City of Mind to pick up some gems (they sell for quite a bit at any time). Lobotomy club might be in this city, but maybe I'm over-thinking it. All my other leads have to do with the rings, which I don't want to get until I have all party members (so we can all share in the experience). In any case, there's always the chance to build up my funds to purchase all the spells I have access to while I search the coast. Spells can be bought at any time, but used only if the character has reached a level high enough to use them.
Pixel art of the game cart in the game
Elapsed Time: 4h05m (Total Time: 6h45m)


  1. I'm not sure what the difference is between those two screenshots.

    1. Do they look the same then? Maybe it's not as big a difference as I thought.

    2. The bottom one looks slightly sharper to me.

    3. I agree with Wingnut - the bottom one is a bit sharper. If it's too much work, though, I wouldn't bother since the top one is clear enough to read everything just fine (unless you want to go through it for historical documentation purposes, in which case, have at it!).

    4. I record the game while playing with a dvd recorder that has a passthrough. I stream the passthrough, which prevents my capture card from also capturing images. So, usually the next day, I'll fast forward through my play session and grab interesting screenshots, and sprinkle a few throughout the post. The difference between the two screens is I pause the video in the first, and capture it on the fly in the second. So, if I use the second method it makes it harder to grab exactly the right frame. I'll try to use a mix of both from now on.

  2. I bet this would have made for an amazing PC game. Surely in this age of remakes, there must be enough of a fanbase to get this rebooted? Mind you, RPGs with multiple party members and turn-based combat have never been the most popular. Perhaps a kickstarter?

    1. I'm not sure a remake would take off, but I do like the idea of these guys taking off with their vision for a huge game. In any case, they've had enough time to do that, but instead followed market trends. They've done well for themselves in any case.

    2. I doubt many of the people who made Rings of Power are still with them. They've changed their style quite a lot!

    3. I don't believe anyone that made this game is still working at Naughty Dog.