The rift between the Modern World of Terra and the Magical Realms of Valoria is widening and if not healed will destroy all life. The selfish and cunning Lord Wizards are fighting amongst themselves trying to prove which is the wiser and most powerful. Their eccentricities and magic abilities need to be brought under control and you, as a lowly beginner, have been chosen to accomplish this daunting task.
SpellCraft: Aspects of Valor is a role-playing adventure game in which you build your character by learning and mastering a vast array of magical spells. The process isn't simple: you must first find the proper ingredients and formulas needed for each spell (found in Terra), mix these reagents correctly to form useful conjuring spells, find and learn the necessary Magic Words found throughout the lands and finally apply those words to your concoction to induce the mystical and magical Aspects.
Testing the spells is accomplished by using them in battle against enemy wizards, assuming you can get past the menagerie of conjured beasts, mythical creatures and general mayhem thrown in your path. By successfully conjuring your spells, you will climb in rank from a beginner's level to Apprentice, Journeyman Wizard, Master Wizard, Lord Wizard and finally Magistar Wizard.
Released in 1992, SpellCraft: Aspects of Valor features 256-color graphics, a developer claim of more than 100 hours of gameplay and mood-inducing sound effects and music. The developer behind the game concept is Joe Ybarra.
Robert is just an ordinary guy - or so he thought before he received that fateful letter from a relative in England. Arriving at the mysterious Stonehenge, Robert is teleported to Valoria - a magical world populated by legendary monsters and wizards. And that is precisely what Robert has to become (a wizard, not a monster). Can he survive battles against evil creatures in the seven elemental realms of Valoria?
Spellcraft: Aspects of Valor is a strategy game based on spell creation and large-scale battles. Creating spells is a complicated process that involves finding components (powders, stones, jewels, etc.), mixing them according to a formula, and saying the magic word. Using a wrong formula will result in the player character's death. Besides the traditional attack and defense spells, the player can also create magic that modifies the terrain, and summon creatures that fight on the protagonist's side.
Spellcraft can best be described as all out strategy but has some aspects of a good adventure and a little RPG. By far, however, the strategy element is the strongest. (There was another port of this game for the SNES that was more of an adventure game unlike the PC version.)
If you take the time to read the manual from cover to cover you will get a background on the story. That isn't necessary to enjoy the game. In a nutshell, man's meddling with nature and determination to destroy himself has created a rift between our universe, Terra, and another called Valoria. In our universe magic has all but died. In Valoria magic still rules. It rules under the direction of a council of powerful wizards. These wizards have noticed the rift and plan on using it as an opportunity to destroy Terra lest their magic be destroyed by our meddling. The leader of the council, Garwayen, opposes this plan and the rest of the council attempts to overthrow him. Garwayen then summons you as the only human able to wield the magical abilities to take on the other wizards and save our universe.
Before you can begin to think of defeating them you must be trained in the powerful magic art and learn to create and modify spells to make them the most effective. When you do get into a real battle you must have the knowledge and instinct to act quickly to survive. About one-half the game is spent with the player being tutored by Garwayen. One of the impressive things about Spellcraft is that even though the game ends up being a little complex with the myriad of spells and variations of spells, it brings you along slowly enough that the complexity is not overwhelming. By games end your spell inventory will become quite large. You will also have created many spell variations through the addition of various ingredients that you find in your explorations or are given to you by your allies on Terra.
The major objective in Spellcraft is in not only finding the spell "recipes" but in experimenting with the spell to adapt it to the many environments in which you will do battle. Every spell consists of an "aspect", a magic word and up to four ingredients that must be mixed in a precise combination. The aspect is a common item that holds some kind of magical property and must be purchased or found. The magic words are given to you by allies, your tutor (when he thinks you are ready), or a conquered foe. The Spell book (see extras) will give clues and an opportunity to organize what you have learned about spell craft as you progress. You will want to print the Spell book and record everything you learn along the way. That is VERY important.
The geography of the game, as I mentioned earlier, consists in two universes. You will travel throughout Terra (earth) meeting people that will become your allies and provide you with valuable items and information. One really nice thing the game developers did was to weave a lot of our history into the game by linking events on earth to some magical phenomenon that surrounded it. You will deal with events ranging from Pompeii to the Salem witch hunts to Stonehenge. This is how you will learn much of what you need to know. The Valoria universe is divided into seven realms six of which are controlled by a wizard that is bent on your destruction. Four of the realms coincide with earthlike elements. They are earth, air, fire and water. Two more realms are mind and ether. Mind is a strange one in that it takes place in your own thoughts and memories while ether is challenging because you will battle it out in the cosmos.
The final realm is death. The way the game handles death is unique and well thought out. When you are defeated in battle you don't actually die but, instead, are sent into the death realm where magic does not exist. You must escape the death realm without being killed. If you are killed in the death realm its game over and save-game restore. If you escape you are once again ready to continue your lessons where you left off. There is much to discover in the death realm as well. Some valuable spell ingredients are much more plentiful in there. You may find yourself purposefully taking a stroll through the death realm just to get your hands on some of these.
One interesting feature of the game is that there are many spells used by both you and your opponent that actually change the geography of the elemental realms. Since using the terrain is important in a good strategy this will make the game more challenging as you experience tougher opponents.
The economy of Spellcraft is fairly simple. You are given money by selling the magical artifacts you find. You then use this money to buy spell ingredients. If you play your cards right money will not be a big issue. If you are wasteful in your attempts to create more powerful spells money may become an issue.
Spellcraft's game play is in the isometric top-down view. Movement is controlled by the mouse. Battle takes place in real time, it is not turn based. Things will get fast and furious as you progress. That is why it is important that you are very familiar with your spell inventory and how each spell performs in a certain environment or against a specific opponent. Thankfully the game does go into freeze mode for a couple seconds when you select the spell menu to choose and cast a spell. The player has to navigate a couple menus to finally get to the spell and variation of the spell they wish to use. It would be unfair, given that constraint, to have the battle raging on. A decision must be made fairly quickly, however, as the game does not have unlimited patience.
Another nice feature that Spellcraft has is that although most of the battles you fight will be waged by magic, the only way to kill a competing wizard is with your sword. That rule requires that you find a way to manipulate your opponents and the terrain in such a way as to get close enough to deal the fatal blow. Much easier said than done.
You will absolutely have to download and print the Spell book to play the game. It provides essential hints and is a record of all that you learn as you progress. There are a couple points in the game where you will need to refer to writings by legendary magicians that are reproduced in the user's manual.
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