Kisai's Review of Abandoned Places
Your party represents four from a circle of twelve professionals who were petrified into stone statues a thousand years ago. Because of downsizing of the local wizard's guild, only four can be thawed out to fight an evil lich which threatens the land. Presumably because of brain damage caused by 1000 years of being a rock, you'll start at level 1. Also, presumably because of looting, your equipment is noticibly missing and you are forced to defend yourself immediately with stray rocks and pimp slaps from the fire spewing demons who are suddenly upon you.
Once you get yourself situated, you will find yourself a run of the mill fantasy world called Kalynthia. To protect this world, you'll have to locate the Book of the World, and three pieces each of a legendary sword, staff, and orb that you'll need to defeat the lich.
Abandoned Places presents you with a 3D corridor viewpoint similar to Dungeon Master. Your four characters will forever stand in a 2 X 2 formation, fighting in real time. Controls are mouse driven, but fortunately you can move and swing your weapons with the keyboard.
While I appreciated the mix of spells given to spellcasters, accessing them is difficult. There is a short list of five spells that you scroll through in alphabetical order, with no hotkeys. The more spells you have the longer you have to scroll to find them, and older, less useful spells are not phased out, so the more your spellcasters know, the more senile they appear.
There are some ugly frustrations inherent in this game. The worst is trapising through the world map, looking for anonymous pixels where the dungeons may be while being attacked by random encounters that net you NO experience points. The food system is a useless chore, and you don't get to actually use the artifacts that you spent 12 dungeons assembling.
Abandoned Places is themed on exploration of the world map and diving into the anonymous, eponymous points for the dungeon hacks. The dungeons themselves are the highlights, ranging in difficulty from easy to nightmarish. Unfortunately, a few are set up so that a minor decision will render you unable to complete the dungeon because of poor design.
The towns and cities are some of the least interesting points of dullness in any RPG ever created. There are about 30 towns on the map. Five of them have someone within whom you can strike up a conversation. Only one of those people, maybe, will actually talk to you about something other than a business transaction.
Pre-game, you will be able to select 2 of 8 warriors, 1 of 3 mages, and 1 of 3 clerics, based on their names and looks alone. Each has their own stats and 2-4 starting spells which you'll get to discover once the game has actually started.
When you perform an action, like successfully swinging a weapon or casting a spell, you'll gain experience points from it. This is the only way to gain experience, so you'll have to balance your individual character usage. The most points are gained by damaging an enemy, but there are a limited amount of enemies to be had.
Leveling up only takes place in training grounds in a few cities around the world. Fighters predictably get tougher. Mages and clerics get more spells which are not chosen by the player.
The menace of Kalynthia is Bronakh, shown during the intro as a grindy-toothed, cloaked lich. Bronakh's evil has laid waste to a few locations and generally made the populance cranky. Once you've collected and assembled the artifacts needed to destroy him, he'll appear and declare that he'll allow you to challenge him, if you can make it through the Hall of Rage, a non-stop fireball-flying, trap infested dungeon. This feat makes as much sense as a bully allowing you the privilege to fight him if you can crawl through a woodchipper intact.
There's a bug in the description of where to assemble the Staff of Supremacy. The actual location is the graveyard, Draken Tor.