Eschalon: Book I Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 4 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 44 Ratings

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  • Summary: Eschalon: Book I is a classic role-playing game experience that will take you across massive outdoor environments and deep into sprawling dungeons as you seek to uncover the mystery of who - or what - you are. A tile-built, turn-based game world where the result of absolutely every action is rolled, calculated or statistically determined. Strategy is paramount to success; careful skill management, equipment selection and magic usage will win your fights, not rapid button clicking. We are very pleased to say this is not another "action RPG". Hundreds of items and dozens of creatures await your discovery. A combination of randomly generated treasure and carefully hidden goodies means that no two games will play the exact same way. [Basilisk Games] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. A very nice surprise. In this age of good looking, but simplistic and short, easy games a touch of classic role-playing was really refreshing. I hope to see the remaining Books, too. [Jan 2008]
  2. The only major shortfall here is a clunky natigation system, but this aside, Eschalon: Book I is a very accomplished RPG. [Apr 2006, p.86]
  3. The production values are far higher than many rivals, and anyone looking back fondly on the RPGs of yesteryear will soon be sucked in. [Feb 2008, p.115]
  4. Despite the many warts, Eschalon is not without charm, as this game would have been an award-winning achievement in 1986 or so. Everything is done well, for that era, but, much like steam locomotives, I’m just not convinced this style really works nowadays.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 12
  2. Negative: 3 out of 12
  1. Dec 14, 2011
    It pains me to see people hate on this game for being "old school" This is how a true rpg should be done, Turn based so you can do it at your own pace wether iti be fast or slow, I thurally enjoyed playing though Eschalon Book I and look forward to play Book 2, the story is a bit bland if you may. But its good enough to keep you going. The graphics may look a little outdated but they fit everything else extremely well, the sound is mediocre. The looting system was a big Minus for me, considering its completely random so i have about as big of a chance of getting a great and getting a health potion. Overall this game is an absolute blast to play and i can easily recommend this game to anyone who likes old school RPG's, If you dont like old school rpg's you should give this game a try anyways. Its a good game to get into the genre in. Overall i would give it a 9.5 but i cant so it gets a 10 on metacritic. Expand
  2. DominicF
    Apr 17, 2009
    This is a great game! Whereas new RPG's rely on flashy graphics and special effects to give appeal, old style RPG's had a different approach. Old style RPG's, that were good, always included great stories, FANTASTIC music, and memorable characters to make the games what they were. If that old style appeals to you this game will be right up your alley. Expand
  3. BernieC
    Feb 13, 2009
    Over a year after creating my first character in the land of Thaermore, I finally got around to completing the game. Granted, I have ADHD (if you believe in that sort of thing) and am easily distracted by things that are shiny, but I did finish it. Thus, I felt it necessary to share my opinions with everyone else, regardless of whether or not everyone else wishes to know them. Without further ado.... 1. Character Creation Ah, this brings back memories. Whether it be playing the old D&D based computer games or even some classic tabletop action, part of the fun was rolling the stats and deciding exactly what kind of character you wanted to portray. After spending far too much time re-rolling the dice, I finally settled on a Druidic Rogue of Nor'lander origin. I would have spent far less time re-rolling stats if there was an option to swap stats around, but it's a minor nitpick. My only real gripe with the whole Character Creation concept is the classes. They seem like almost an afterthought, with the inclusion of a single free skill. With the availability of trainers and books to learn the same skills, what's the point? If Eschalon is suppose to be a skill based RPG, why not just allow players to pick one free skill and do away with the whole Class option? You can include the class in with the Title, based on the starting skills. Either that or the classes should have more to differentiate them such as more starting skills or class-exclusive abilities. 2. Gameplay In total, I spent 22.5 hours on a single playthrough with my Rogue. Of course, this is not counting reloads for silly deaths and my initial re-rolling of chests to obtain decent starting equipment (yes, it's evil, but there's good reason... read on...). I particularly like the initial starting storyline for the game... waking up in a destroyed village with no memory of who you are and nothing but a note to put all your trust in... classic stuff for sure. The entire storyline itself is fairly straightforward... offering just enough to keep you going to the next point in your quest. I would have liked to see more sidequests and more fleshing out of some of the townspeople, but I won't beat the developers up too much on their first go-round. I'm big on exploration in an RPG, so much time was spent wandering around, searching every nook and cranny to make sure I get all the loot and find possible secrets. Eschalon delivers in part on this aspect, with chests planted in obscure locations throughout the land. Unfortunately, the "hidden" chests are based on the same random loot table as the rest of the game, so I have every bit of a chance at getting that elusive Adamantine Great Sword +4 as I do the not so elusive tuber. This makes one less interested in exploring the game and more inclined to just plow through the main story. Then you run into the problem of needing to flesh out the story to keep people interested in completing the game. There seemed to be a bit of imbalance to the development of your character as well. If you didn't max out a combat skill at the creation of your character, initial progression could be quite difficult. That being said, by the middle of the game I was far too overpowered. Once I hit around level 10, I was a force to be reckoned with. When I reached the end of the game, it was far too easy. I was quite disappointed with how much of a pushover Gramuk ended up being, and obtaining the Destroyer ending was cake. My Rogue had a 98% chance to hit anything, and at most anything had a 19% chance to hit him. This is before any buffing, of course. It appears Alchemy is a big part of this imbalance.... with all my armor enchanted my AC was pretty much doubled. Combine that with Haste III, Healing III and Demon oil III... no wonder I was unstoppable. It's not that I needed alchemy to breeze through the ending, it just made it that much faster. The enemies you encounter fit well with their locations. It was nice to not have a rat be your first encounter for a change.... I am hoping to see a larger variety with Book II, and so far it looks like Basilisk is going to deliver. 3. Graphics While simple in nature, the graphics in this game are incredibly well done. Everything blends together nicely, be it the background tiles, the lighting effects, or the simple graphic for the apple in your inventory. Other "new-old-school rpgs" I've seen/played seem to have difficulty with this concept. One of the most notable examples in my opinion is the Spiderweb games. The characters don't seem to fit the surroundings that they're in. It's like one guy did the background tiles, another guy did the characters, and they never talked to each other or compared notes. None of that is a problem in Eschalon. The only real gripe I have graphics-wise is the fixed resolution. Ok, well maybe two gripes, but they're related. The low resolution of Book I makes it a pain in the rear to run in a window on my laptop; it has a 15" screen with a 1600x1200 resolution. It scales pretty well in full screen, but then the other "gripe" comes into play... the HUD. It's huge! It effectively reduces the actual gameplay area to ~ 570x456. It'd be nice to see a more streamlined interface, something along the lines of.... say Pool of Radiance. If it could be shrunk down, maybe some alpha blending thrown in... or have the ability to toggle it on/off. I'd just like to see more of the world of Eschalon, and less of the interface. Is that too much to ask for?? 4. Sound Don't really have much to say here... ambient sounds are nice, creature sounds are normal fare, not really looking for an ear feast with this kind of game. I suppose there could be some improvement in the battle sounds, and it wouldn't hurt to have some voice-overs here and there with NPCs. Hopefully there will be some good ambient sounds in Book II in regards to the weather effects; thunder, rain, wind, and all that jazz will be something to look forward to. On a whole, the audio was pretty average. 5. Overall - a.k.a. Fun Factor Overall I enjoyed playing through Book I. Sure there were some gripes, but they were mostly minor and likely to be addressed in Book II. In the end, it made for a nice nostalgic romp through a fantasy setting. It made me bust out some other old-school rpgs just to play through them again, and maybe actually finish them this time around. Upon finishing the game, my initial response was.... "That's it? I'm done already?? Wait... there's gotta be more!!" While partially a letdown, it was also partly a sign of solid game design. With the understanding that the game has been designed as a trilogy, the shortness of the game isn't such a big deal. In the end I don't think it will be a huge issue as Book II appears to be shaping up as a larger, more involved experience. The Setup Pros: + Character Creation is fun. + Story is enough to keep you going, even if a bit on the thin side. + Graphics are top notch for the game type. + Lots of places to explore and a decent amount of "secrets" + Overall enjoyable experience. Cons: - Short. Too short. Need more story and sidequests. - Treasure/Loot system needs balance. - Character Skills, Classes, and Leveling need balance. - Resolution/HUD needs streamlining. More game, less HUD!! The Knockdown I give it a final Score of 90%. It has some marks against it, but nothing drastic that will take away from the overall experience. Of course, this is scoring the game based on the fact that it is an old school RPG, not comparing it to new-type games like some of the crititcs have wrongly done. If you're looking for this type of game, then Eschalon: Book I will deliver. I have great expectations for Book II. Expand
  4. Aug 12, 2014
    I enjoyed this game. The story was interesting and some of the game mechanics were new to me. Though if you enjoy fancy graphics this isn't for you. The main failing, as already well described in LucidDream's review, is the issue with fights. With one character there aren't many tactics you can employ and you do find yourself resting a lot of the time to regain health and mana. But apart from that a decent enough game. Hopefully this issue will be rectified in Book 2. Expand
  5. KarelK.
    Feb 10, 2008
    The game has a good fooling feeling about it. The turn to base combat feels fluent, the skill system remains interesting throughout most of the game and the story is entertaining. Most of the locations in the game were fun as well, with little puzzles and fun sitequests. What I liked less about this game was that it was too easy, at least, for a mage. No creature moves faster than your character, so as mage the pattern of killing critters becomes a bit boring. That is, shoot some fire darts, run away, and repeat. All in all, definitely an entertaining game, but a too easy for the old-school rpg that the game strives to be. Due to this, the game looses some of its appeal later on in the game. Expand
  6. Sep 7, 2013
    I usually like old-school turn-based RPG's, in fact it is probably my favourite genre. Since this game is exactly that, I expected to like it. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed. The graphics of the game are not really all that good by modern standards. The music on the other hand I found to be quite good and the sound effects are adequate. One good thing about the game is that it can be quite fast paced despite being turn-based, thanks to the fact that enemies move at the same time as you move. This means that you can take as much time as you want but you can also play as fast as you want.

    The main problem with the game is related to battle design and level of challenge. A really good RPG will every now and again throw fights at you that are so hard that you can only beat them by making good use of your characters strengths and your enemies weaknesses and finding a good strategy (tricking enemies to clump together and then throwing a well placed fireball is a classic) while also having easier sections to let you feel like you are making fast enough progress. In Eschalon you only ever control one character which reduces the amount of possible choices you can make in combat and therefore finding a good strategy plays a much smaller role than in games where you control multiple characters. Also, it is generally very hard or impossible to beat all the enemies in an area at the same time, but you also don't have to, you can take some of them out, run away, rest and come back later (or you can use a lot of potions but these are expensive so this may not be the best option). You never have to face that challenging fight that really tests your skills (and as I said the lack of possible choices during combat means skill isn't that relevant anyway), instead the game has you fighting a few enemies, resting, fighting a few more and so on. This quickly gets old and is not all that fun since it requires more patience than skill.

    The story of the game is nothing to special, in fact I don't remember much of anything of it. The main motivation to keep playing is to complete quests, and thankfully there are a fair amount of optional quests as there should be in an RPG, and level up yout character. Character creation is the best aspect of the game, the game really let's you create the chacter you want, including giving your character a religion (or no religion or undecided about religion) an origin (i.e. where you grew up) and of course a class, skills and attributes such as strength, perception, etc. and all these things make a difference. This makes leveling up your character more fun than it would otherwise have been and keeps the game just about motivating enough that I found it worth playing to the end. There are much better games in the genre though, so I would only recommend this to hardcore turn-based RPG gamers who are starved for another game in the genre to sink their teeth into.
  7. Apr 7, 2013
    If you have the slightest interest in this game, definitely play the demo first. I can assure you that there's nothing in this game for you to discover beyond the first 10 or so minutes of play, because it's just a rinse and repeat from there. It calls itself a strategic turn-based game that isn't "dumbed down for the masses" or based upon nothing but repeated clicking... and that's simply a lie. Everything in this game is done through clicking, and combat is a matter of repeatedly clicking on a monster. It's Diablo with none of the depth even that game had, and made to take much, much longer because of how after everything you do, you have to camp for more HP or MP. Or, to put it even more simply, it's a dumbed-down Diablo made even more boring. It claims to be a "return to the Golden Age of RPGs" without any understanding of what made those games any good, and it comes off as slander to those games. The RPG genre is flooded with games much better than this one in any way imaginable, and there are even free games out there, like Elona or NetHack that you could be playing, instead. Don't play this game. Expand

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