REPOST – ASCII Dungeon Incursion review


A/N: Taken from http://web.archive.org/web/20091216104314/http://theasciidungeon.net/index.php/archives/157

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Edit: In advance, I apologize for the lack of images. Two relevant screenshots are linked, but problems with the image uploader had created a bit of a set-back. Hopefully other reviewers do not suffer as I have.😦

I go into this review hoping it helps anyone out there confused or unsure about this wonderful game. Merely trying to create a character can be daunting, but it shouldn’t be what holds you back from really giving this game a go. This is probably my second most played RL, so I’m a wee bit biased. With that said, let’s dive right in…
Character Creation Process: Step One
Incursion is infamous for its complexity and steep learning curve, and one of the most daunting tasks is creating a character. First, you choose a race, of which you confronted with some necessary stats, and then a lot of tl;dr backstory. You might wanna bring in a cup of coffee or something, because the amount of text in this game will substitute for the newspaper. After the the race, you choose a class. Stats will be there, and so will another long description of the classes. Moving on, you get five dice rolls for your Str, Dex, Con, Cha, Int, Wis, and Luck. Each roll will come with two additional things: a bonus item, a bonus feat, a specific resistance, etc. (Note: Humans are extra special and get three bonus additions.) After that, you choose an alignment. Now comes the part that turns people off, I’ve found. Here’s where you choose stats. Incursion has a massive feat/ability tree, and it takes a bit of time to get used to it. You’ll choose a few, depending on you race and class, and then we move on. Then we come to skill manager. This should be relatively straight-forward to those familiar with RPGs or table top games. After that, we start the game. As far as that behemoth of a character creation process goes, it’s pretty fun. Incursion is definitely intended to be enjoyed by those with a bit of DnD experience in them (especially 3.5ed, off which the engine is based).

Gameplay can be pretty challenging. The amount of keys is rather hard to keep track of, but players will get a hold of basics pretty quick. The inventory in particular can be a little tricky. Just keep in mind that when you pick stuff up, it doesn’t go straight to your pack; it’ll be “in the air” (i.e., you holding it) until you either decide to equip somewhere (to do this, you find the place you want to equip it [left shoulder, right arm, belt, etc] and then hit space) or ’s’tow it in your pack. It’s rather embarrassing how long it took me to figure that out. Actual combat is fun, but sometimes really difficult early on. I’ve heard of many people who spend upwards of ten minutes making a character, to die across the first enemy they find. This is not the way you attract players. My suggestion to new players is to try a sneaky, small rogue character first. Use the ‘h’ide in shadows ability, and pick your battles. Smash random keys on your keyboard, and find out what stuff does; this can only help you.

The battles may be tough, but never the same. You’ll fight monsters you’ve never heard of, and you’ll encounter things that no other roguelike offers, like finding a sleeping Dwarven Priest, waking him, and having him join your party. Better have high diplomacy though.🙂 The game is incredibly original with it’s content; you’ll rarely find a boring moment. The plot may be lacking (more on this later), but it’s really well done; simple, but intriguing.

Varied environments with interesting descriptions make exploring interesting (however dangerous)
Aesthetically, this game is pretty great as well. Think “Legerdemain”, and you’re right on target. It’s colorful, vibrant, and the environments are really varied. From Ice Caves to Fungal Forests, you’ll find rather interesting descriptions of what’s happened. Again, it’s geared to table top gamer. As far as this reviewer can see, the game really doesn’t any flaws as far as simple presentation is concerned. This is certainly a plus, because it makes the environment which one would assume to be rather dull after a while (an abandoned underground fortress) a bit more surreal, and exciting.

The game also allows you to revive past characters. This is really fun, because sometimes you get a great roll, great feats, great items, and then die really early on. That’s no fun. You can replay a deceased character as many times as you want, but the number of times will appear in the character dump. (Ex. Tarsin Highhill II, a hin bard of mine). Mentioning names real quick, it should be noted that you do not choose the names of your character. Small loss. Also, the game autosaves, which is a nice bonus, and makes returning to save files easier.

So, about the plot. The plot is basically “Kill the Goblin King”, which is, as I said earlier, simple and a bit intriguing. However, the interesting (and rather promising thing) is that Incursion is the engine for the game Halls of the Goblin King. Think ToME, and that sort of set-up. This means that the Incursion engine could be used for new games. This is really exciting for those like myself, who are fans of the engine’s adaption of the 3.5ed rules.

So, I suppose in summary, I really only have to say that you should give this game a fighting chance, because for any new players, it won’t give you much of one.🙂

-Saryn

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