As you have probably surmised from the screenshots. Abandoned Places is very Dungeon Mastery indeed. There, I've said it, the obligatory comparison that always arises when this type of game is released. Now I refuse to do it any more! So just how does Abandoned Places shape up to all the other contenders? Well, it shapes up rather nicely indeedy.
Apparently, the world of Kalynthia is in a bit of bower. The Prince of Evil, Bronagh, has escaped from his enchanted imprisonment within a volcano and is intent on spreading evil throughout the land again. These Usurper types never learn, do they?
However, Bronagh's return was foreseen at the time of his demise and the 12 heroes who were instrumental in messing up his plans of chaos were cast in stone to preserve their powers, ready to do battle with Bronagh once again I don't know about you, but if I had just spent long, perilous years of my life clearing the world of evil, being cast in stone would not be high on my list of rewards!
As might be expected, you control four characters from a choice of the 12 heroes, but your party must consist of two Warriors, a Cleric and a Mage. Once chosen, you find yourself beneath the temple of Heaven's light and your first task is to reach the surface, picking up weapons on your way.
This part of the game is in the familiar 3D first-person perspective, as found in DM (aaargghhl I've done it again! I must control this comparison urge I know! I'll get a drink from the office coffee machine, put the cup in front of me, then every time I make a comparison, I'll force myself to drink it. Now that's what I call the ultimate deterrent!). Now, where was I? Oh yes, the 3D first-person perspective (glances nervously at alien substance trying to eat its way out of a nearby cup).
This display consists of the actual view of your surroundings, and four portraits - one of each character. These portraits show strength points, spell/action points, the characters direction of attack, what the character is holding, a spell selection window, movement icons, a message window and a detailed display of a selected character and his/her possessions.
As you explore, you will come across all manner of monstrous manifestations, and you will have to do battle with them sooner or later. This is where the spells come into their own. The two magic users, Cleric and Mage, have a maximum of 21 spells to choose from. Each character has a unique list of spells, making a total d 42 individual spells within the game. My favourite spell is Death Breath, or Vindaloo Vengeance, as I like to call it. The two Warriors, having no spell casting abilities, must rely on weapons found or bought during the game to fend off the fiend's during their travels.
Unlike Dungeon Mas.... Gulp! I nearly slipped up again there (glances at the worrying sight of a mutated-beyond-recognition coffee cup). What I meant to say was once you reach the surface, the perspective changes to an overhead view of the land with the party position displayed as a marker icon.
The view is quite detailed, showing various cities, villages, snowcapped mountains, swamps, rivers, roads, deserts and vegetation. The different types of terrain also affect your speed of travel and the likelihood of being attacked, so keeping to a trail is safer and quicker, while wandering through the woods is downright dangerous.
This is not your average static view, either. There is a lot of animation onscreen, ranging from storm clouds to passing ships and flowing rivers. The actual map is larger than the screen and as you travel, the screen will scroll to reveal more of the land. You'll find a colour map in the game package which shows the whole of Kalynthia.
You can also travel over this land, in a number of ways - by foot, horse, ship or air. Not all of the travel modes are available at the start, however, and as you travel the time of day changes from morning to afternoon and eventually to evening. At this point you may elect to make camp or continue on through the dark, bearing in mind that travelling through the night can be dead dodgy - the emphasis being on dead.
There are lots of places to visit in Kalynthia. There's Sandmarch, a city in the middle of the desert known as the Sands of Fire and the capital city, Kal Kalon, ruled by the wise ones. Each town and city has varying facilities for the party ranging from Blacksmiths, where you can purchase weapons and armour, to Apothecaries (try saying that with a mouthful of shortbread as I've Just done. Oh crumbs!) where you can buy magical potions to aid your journey through the dungeons.
At Churches you can heal or resurrect characters who are particularly wimpy. You may even be given a quest to complete by certain people within a town, which will take you to further underground areas full of foul creatures to kill.
In fact, it all boils down to the fact that Abandoned Places is a stonking game. The gameplay is there, the atmosphere is there (especially if you read the included tome, The 23rd Chronicles of Kalynthia) There are also oodles of spells to cast, lots more than Dungeon Master had... Gulp!...
In this dungeon-rpg game, you play the role of four heroes whose mission is to save their world, Kalynthia. It gives you much freedom, there's more to do that just stick to the main quest. Also, while the game is 2D, most of the time, dungeon crawling takes place in a 3D view.
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