Often overlooked, interesting engine, good for beginers.
This is an often overlooked crpg, which is a bit of a shame. It has a fairly interesting engine underneath. Demon's Winter is a sequel to another older SSI rpg, Shard of Spring. If you have played Shard of Spring, then some landmarks will be familiar, as the game is set in the same land, just futher forward in time.
You create a party of six adventurers with the sole purpose of stopping Malifon from bringing Eternal Winter to the land.
The system is skill based, you have your shamanism skills, priesthood, kungfu, different thieving skills, etc. Quite a large variety. New skills can be learned at various Colleges you find dotted around the landscape.
The magic system is based on Fire Runes, Wind Runes, Earth, Spirit Runes, etc. Each rune set has 7 or so spells of various types. I found I relied more on hack n slash than magic in the game, so maybe it is a tad unbalanced in that regard. Magic spells cost magic points.
Like the early Ultima's (I'd rate this game somewhere between Ultima II and Ultima III), you can travel around the continent, but that soon becomes too small and you require a ship to visit the other lands.
One thing I liked is you can have your character with the most charisma, haggle with merchants. You have to be careful tho, if you haggle too much they get insulted and remove that particular item from sale. It is safe to haggle about two or three times at the most per item.
Combat is of the Pool of Radiance style, only cut-down.
There are a few large scale graphics throughout the game like the Ice Dragon, Malifon and a few other pictures which break the monotony up a bit.
There isnt a lot of side quests in this game but a lot to do in the overall quest. Each dungeon has many things that need to be done, solving riddles, passwords, using items. This is what made the game interesting. You might find a room with a book case, where if you move it, you find a passage behind it. Dungeons are loose collections of coridoors and rooms, most rooms have descriptions, something which I have not come across in any other RPG.
In the starter dungeon, if you find a key, you can open a lab rat cage in one room, where you notice the rat run through the wall to the west, ergo, you might want to check out the west wall.
Its all the little things like this that add up.
Despite all the bad things I pointed out below, I still enjoyed playing this game quite a bit.
The EGA graphics are not all that flash for EGA standard. A bit bland but functional. Icons lack detail.
Too short and a bit linear. No side quests, just have your majour goal.
For a game released in 1988, it was largely overlooked due to the fact that there was much better game systems around. Had it been released, say, 1 or 2 years earlier, it would have garnered a bigger audience.
Its top down all the way, from overland travel to dungeon traversal.
Sound, blips and beeps. Abysmal.
Probably the _wost_ offender is the 'hard to map' dungeon which you find branching off in the first dungeon you visit. When you walk into this area, the walls are on all sides of you so you cant see which directions alleyways branch off at. With each 'step' your character takes the feet of the icon change very slightly, and you have to watch closely to map this to know if you have take a step or have just run into a wall... Needless to say, I have not mapped all this dungeon, and I know there is another hidden part in here I have not found yet...
The Bottom Line
A fine beginners rpg, well worth a look if you can get past the graphics and into the system itself.