Aleshar: The World of Ice is a top-down perspective RPG in a world surrounded by snow and ice. Your character may be created from various available classes (Hunter, Healer, Bard, etc.), each with different speciality statistics which may be tweaked during character creation. Character statistics and abilities will increase during the game, depending on constant use of a particular ability. There are no "leveling-ups" or experience normally found in other RPGs.
Aleshar - World of Ice is a headache-inducing third person RPG made by the aptly named Hypothermia.
Aleshar is an uncharted arctic island secluded from the rest of the world, which experiences winter all year long. You play the role of a young man who was born on Aleshar with rare and mysterious powers that allow him to use magic; such people are known as Elementalists due to their mastery of the natural elements in the world. Unfortunately, it is illegal on Aleshar to possess such power without joining a group known only as "the cult," a corrupt and decadent organization of Elementalists. Many years ago your grandfather, who possessed the same powers as you, refused to join the cult and attempted to flee its influence. However, he was caught and executed.
In order to prevent you from sharing your grandfather's fate, your father sent you to live with an old hermit far from your home town at a young age. The man was rumoured to be an Elementalist in hiding. One day, he sends you away on an errand. As you are about to return to his home, you are stopped by two men in red robes who demand that you go with them. You immediately realise that they are members of the cult who have come to take you away. You are chased back to your trainer, who instructs you to flee to a nearby town while he distracts the cultists. And so begins your adventure. You must train your skills and your powers and stop the cult once and for all.
Aleshar - World of Ice allows you to customise your character in several different categories: job, skills, weapon ability, and character traits. These will determine how your character interacts with other characters and how well he will fare in battle and in the wilderness. The primary method of increasing your skills in-game is to actively use them. For example, the primary mode of transportation in the wilderness is skiing, so skiing often will raise your skiing skill and allow you to move around faster.
A major aspect of the game is interacting with other characters. Speaking with characters works the same way as in many text-based adventure games: greet the character, and use keywords to learn more about that character or about what he or she knows. Certain words are written in different colours to signify relevance.
The game is almost completely in real time, so you have to keep progressing in order to prevent your character from starving to death, especially in the wilderness. You can purchase food from other characters in the game, or you can use your hunting skill to try and gather food in the wilderness. When fighting enemies, they will attack you if you just sit still.
Navigating from town to town through the wilderness is very difficult even with a map, since the game does not display your present location in relation to other locations on the map once you acquire one. You are given coordinates from time to time, and you can find your way by using a sextant, which will tell you what your present location is. Unfortunately, you have to figure out for yourself how to read the coordinates given to you by the sextant, and find your own way through the wilderness. The map helps only by giving you a vague idea of where your destination lies. This is much harder than it sounds, as your vision is very restricted, even in the daytime.
The battle system is simple, up to a point: if you use melee weapons, walk into a monster and you'll attack it. If you use missile weapons or magic, attack them as appropriate. Fighting monsters is not merely a matter of hacking them to pieces and moving on. Depending on your skill, you may hit different body parts of monsters. For example, hitting an arm could break it and render it useless until treated, while hitting the head may cause a fatal blow. Monsters may also disable your character in this way.
Overall, the game is pretty good, except for the graphics. Of course, as a rule, good graphics don't make a good game. However, Aleshar's graphics are unique in that playing the game may strain your eyes and give you a headache because of how small everything is. Nevertheless, Aleshar had the potential to be a good game.
A word of caution: Some of the scenes that appear in the beginning of the game and throughout are rather gory, so this game is not recommended for those with weak stomachs (or those who have recently finished a meal). Also, I would certainly recommend reading the manual before starting the game, as you won't know the important keyboard shortcuts. Here are some that should get you started: E: enter city, G: pick up equipment of a killed monster, H: hunt, M: map (if you have one).
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