Game Review by Michele McDonough
Game Rating = 4/5 Balls
Eschalon: Book 1 is a single-player, role-playing adventure game reminiscent of those from years ago. Character creation is similar to the old D&D way you roll for your base attributes and then you have additional points to allocate. Picking from a list of skills, you are able to customize your character further in terms of what weapon, armor, and skills he will specialize in. Additionally, you also make the choices of origin, axiom and class for your character. These choices have bonuses and negative effects so that no single one is necessarily more powerful than another. This is a huge positive in my book since in this game, character development actually means something again, and you have to put some thought into what you want to be able to do before you even begin to play.
The game play of Eschalon: Book 1 is more geared towards strategy and puzzle-solving than combat. However, the turn-based combat system is still done quite well. Being turn-based, you have the additional time to think about what you want to do in order to win the confrontation. Unlike some other turn-based combat systems, though, the battle moves fast enough so that you’re not just sitting there wondering, “Is this ever going to end?”
The first thing that I noted when watching the opening sequences was that the graphics were much better than I was expecting. The background music is very soft which helps to encourage the theme of mystery and intrigue, but it does make you jump a bit when encountering a monster or object from the sharp sounds that accompany them.
The game play itself is very intuitive once you’ve become accustomed to it. It took me about five minutes to feel comfortable with the commands and to learn how to access different details about my character. After that, I had no trouble at all.
The open world exploration allows you to have influence in how the game plays out. In contrast to most of today’s linear games, you get to choose what you want to tackle next. Progression in some of the skills classes is almost like a mini-quest of its own. One example of this is the alchemy skill in which you mix reactants and reagents in order to create a new potion. In your explorations, you will come across these various items and, sometimes a recipe will show up as well. You can either wait to find a recipe or experiment on your own to see what you might be able to cook up.
While Eschalon: Book 1 may not be appealing to those who are accustomed to the action-packed, graphics-laden role-playing games of today’s world, it will be a breath of fresh air to older gamers like myself who miss the old-style games and simply would like to have one with modern technology. I rate this game a 4 out of 5, but the only reason that I don’t give it a 5 is because of the lack of auto-save feature. Until playing Eschalon, I didn’t realized how much I depend on that feature now in a game, and I forgot to manually save at a couple of key points. This caused a lot of frustration on my part when I had to start the game over from the beginning.
Basilisk Games created Eschalon Book 1.