Eschalon: Book I Image

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

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 43 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 The graphics may look a little outdated but they fit everything else extremely well, the sound is mediocre.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. Oct 3, 2013
    Got this on GoG and have to say I've enjoyed it. It's only $5.99. I think ti's a good value for people who might like this kind of game and can stomach 2d-isometric on a modern computer system.

    The list below is not exhaustive, but it's my best attempt in the given time.

    Things I liked:
    - A map in my inventory (that I have to click to open) and no gps. I didn't like the mini-map as much as the map in my inventory, but it was at least tied to a skill and, early on, looks like a map I might draw myself. However, I think mini-maps make me look at them more than the actual world which is usually a turn off. Generally, I like to feel like I'm earning an understanding of the geography and locations.

    - Stat system: this game has one. While I am not a fan of heavy use of numbers in games, I am a fan of an underlying system in the game that the player has to understand to fully exploit and I don't think every player should be equally well at understanding it. Maybe I feel this way because so many games that have simplified their skill systems (and thus cut away many of the numbers) are also very linear and cut and dry in most cases, unless you actively try to make the game hard yourself.

    - Inns and a resting mechanism tied to a survival skill. I like these. The inns are kind of expensive, but I used them once or twice just because I kept having to kill things that spawned when resting in the wild. If you catch a disease, inns can be an easier way to regain your hitpoints and mana. This can be a good way to restore yourself if you can't afford or don't have the means to cure a disease.

    - Quick travel to places you've already been to. Is a nice feature and not something unknown to old school RPGs. Daggerfall, for example, had a quick travel option.

    - Crisp graphics: 800x600 resolution. They're 2d-isometric, but much easier on the eyes than old school rpgs which tended to be 3d and pixelated. Animations are good.

    - More combat-oriented than quest-oriented. Yes, there're a lot of quests and they're relatively easy to do and they grant you a lot of experience and gold, but make no mistake, this game as at least as much or more about its exploration and combat. Many games I've played focus so much on quests that it feels like all I'm doing is reading stuff and not actually making tactical choices in a fast(er) paced environment. It's kind of like the distinction between Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. Icewind Dale was much more combat-oriented and tighter in its implementation, so its combat was numerous and stricter. Baldur's Gate, by contrast, had much more character depth and things to read or listen to.

    - I'm sure I could list many other things, but I'll end with: traps and diseases and poisons and lockpicking, hidden things (the game rewards you for exploring, not just putting points into Spot Hidden), lots of opportunities to escape certain death by using potions or zoning out or using the terrain to exploit the ai-pathfinding, you can specialize or diversify and I myself prefer to diversity so I'm not stuck using only a couple skills, never have too much money and always feel the need to stay alert for new (and old) opportunities to gain gold, can train skills as you level up and by paying non-players, quest non-players can die and will attack enemies but you can still loot anything that drops,...

    Things I didn't like:
    - Automatic skills, like Spot Hidden. It makes you feel like the character is doing the investigating and you're the one sitting in the audience, not participating. Granted, most skills have a high amount of abstractness, but oftentimes I felt like Spot Hidden did its work without me.
    - Help information is stuck inside the character editor and you can't access it without either leveling up or creating a new character. With a game like Eschalon, you need help information to make good choices, since it's a game more reliant on the numbers you choose to increase.
    - Keymapping is fixed, so you're stuck with what they give you.
    - Inventory and Equipping are in separate windows.
    - You have to open a window and click a couple times to change which spell you use.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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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