79 of 83 people (95%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 24.5 hrs on record
Posted: Jul 6, 2015 @ 1:55am
Updated: Jul 6, 2015 @ 1:56am

Do I recommend this game? Emphatically.

First there will be a general overview of the game, followed by a breakdown of its parts.

Barony is a game that honestly surprised me. I didn't actually want to get it at first, but was convinced by a friend. Don't let the graphics or negative reviews by people who have played for 10 minutes turn you off. This is a genuinely satisfying game with challenging but fair gameplay and simple RPG elements, such as unique equipment, rare encounters, and stats and skills that grow as you use them. Despite its simplistic nature, the game has surprising depth and replayability. A variety of classes all with unique starting equipment and playstyles, random dungeons and loot, so many ways to live or die, and secrets to top it all off, it is well worth the $7 you pay.

While there are some people who can't handle permadeath, the game plays in such a way that failure feels like an experience instead of a loss. If you have a good mindset and learn from your mistakes instead of blaming something else. It makes you want to play again to overcome a failure that was ultimately your own. You need to be careful to survive. Peek around every corner, and keep an eye out for traps. My best character, who'd found the legendary spear Gungnir, become an expert at magic, felled the minotaur, and was strong enough to move boulders, died to a spike trap that I was entirely aware of, I just turned too soon when passing it. If I'd been more careful, I might have beaten the game, as I was very well equipped at that point. The moral of the story is that you are never untouchable. This game doesn't cater to your power fantasies the way games like Skyrim do. You can't faceroll through it without ever dying. You are quite mortal, regardless of how lucky you get with gear. And I like that about the game. It's never *too* easy.

For some, this first part may be enough. But for people on the fence, we'll take a more in-depth look at the game and its features.

Settings: The game supports resolution up to 1920x1200, and other than a few simple features like blood and visual effects such as bobbing and shaking, the game doesn't have any real graphics settings. Both me and a friend have had issues with resolution. If you change the resolution to that of your monitor without selecting fullscreen, the game will glitch out and you'll have to reinstall it entirely. Additionally, using any command that begins with "/res" (such as "restart"), will make the screen go black, and I had to remove every file related to Barony and reinstall it to undo it. The only con with having to reinstall the game is losing your highscores, but luckily I'd taken screenshots. Other than that, I've had no issues. The game has crashed once in the entire time I've played.

Aesthetics: The graphics are simplistic, but have a certain oldschool charm. The screenshots don't really do it justice for how nice it can look despite its simplicity, and they can't convey the excitement you feel in exploring a new area. There's not much to say about the graphics. You can either appreciate the style or not.
Light plays a major role in the game. Torches, spells, and fires provide light to pierce the darkness of the dungeon, and some areas are especially dark, making these tools almost essential to proceed.
The overall ambience of the game is relatively grim, for the dungeon is dark and full of terrors, and the somber music accentuates this when not in combat. It's slow and suspenseful normally, but changes when you enter combat, and becomes frantic if you linger in any particular floor for too long, signalling the arrival of the minotaur. The music is nothing spectacular, but it fits the mood of the game well.

Gameplay: This is the most important part of any game, right? After watching a brief exposition drop that tells you about the town of Hamlet and its cursed mine containing the ghost of the tyrannical Baron Herx, you'll be met with a simplistic character creation screen. Male or female, check. Select one of 10 classes, each given a rating of how hard it supposedly is to play, and each with different equipment, some with spells, and each with its own unique batch of stats and skills, though at low level, no one will excel at anything, and anyone can learn any set of skills with training, so a starting class is an idea more than a formula you have to follow. After selecting your class, you can choose one of five basic appearances. It's a bit lacking, and all but one of the options comes with a beard for males, but it's acceptable. For games like this you don't want a super customized character anyway, because they'll die in a matter of minutes and be gone forever regardless. I do wish it had a white hair and purple eyes option, though. That's my favorite.

Equipment plays a much larger role than classes, I find. You have a selection of basic medieval weapons; swords, spears, axes, maces, halberds, bows, slings, crossbows, and staves (including magic staves with built in spells). Along with weapons comes a variety of armor and clothing, as well as accessories. Nothing special there, really. What matters are the ones that are enchanted, and these are what can make or break your run, as they can have incredible effects like invisibility, levitation, or even the ability to reflect spells. The only catch is that items are unidentified unless appraised, which is very slow and has a low rate of success unless you've trained your appraise skill, which you should. You can use unidentified items, but much of the equipment you find is cursed. Cursed items have a wide variety of negative effects from blinding, strangling, setting you on fire, and so on. And they can't be unequipped unless with a spell or by breaking them. This adds a unique dynamic to the game, in that enchanted items are borderline required to thrive in the dungeon, but at the same time, there is a great danger in equipping them, as they can easily put an end to even the greatest of heroes. It hearkens back to the oldschool D&D days, and it is found well appreciated by me.

The combat of the game is minimalistic. There are weapons, and you click to attack, hitting anything in front of you, even if it's a party member. Along with the basic weapons, there are spells. Powerful but costly, as they can quickly eat up your mana, leaving a magic focused character helpless. Cowardly, but effective, ranged combat and magic are the best ways to deal with enemies while avoiding damage. You can block, but it's not going to save you indefinitely. Should you take damage, there are healing items and you regain health over time, but linger on any floor too long, and you'll be beset by the minotaur, a colossal beast that will tear weak players to shreds, presumably to discourage waiting to regain health before proceeding to the next floor.

The overall goal of the game is to proceed through the floors of the mine without dying, and ultimately defeat the villain, Baron Herx. There is a bit of lore (yes, this game even has lore) that indicates that the Baron isn't the worst thing that lurks below the ruins of the town of Hamlet, however. A tome titled "The Adventurer Who Went To Hell" implies that you can do battle with the devil himself to earn a chance to "live as a God", and put a permanent end to the evils of the mine. Other books can be important too; some explain aspects of gameplay or the the setting of the game, while others are just for fun.

It's a game with surprising depth and replayability for what takes all of two minutes to install. If you enjoy a challenge and can accept permadeath, it's the game for you. There's the sting of loss that comes with every death, as every run is unique, but that's part of it, I think. All those special items, every ounce of luck that resulted in that one of a kind character in its one of a kind run. It's a special experience every time, not in spite of the loss, but because of it.
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