Written by  :  BostonGeorge (788)
Written on  :  Dec 03, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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The Dawn of the best RPG-Series on PCs

The Good

Realms of Arkania is the first part of the so called "Nordic Trilogy" in the Universe of the "Das Schwarze Auge" a very famous P&P Role Playing System in Germany.

Well DSA is very rich in his history and has a vast variety of Characters and Landmarks as rich as the D&D Universe. I always have been a fan of DSA but never played the PC-game. Some years ago I played the third part of this Trilogy (Shadows over Riva) and was fascinated how good they implemented the complex system in a PC-Game. After I heard that you can play the whole trilogy (3 GAMES!) with ONE Party that you create in this first game, I started a new Beginning in "Blade of Destiny".

And what to say - it's pure gold. The character-creation takes time though but it's worth it. You can create up to 6 characters and you can chose from 11 classes: Warrior, Dwarf, Pirate, Thief, Juggler, Magician, Wicher, Druid and three types of Elves.

Every character has 6 good and 6 bad attributes. For example strength and intelligence are good and superstition and fear of dead are bad. But these are only the basics. You've got also about 30 Talents in your Fighting, Physics, Society ...

Sounds very complex but it is not! Because most of the talents are very important for the game others are not and for nearly every action in DSA you have to accomplish tests on your abilities (with a dice-roll). So in the PC-Game the computer does these tests in the background and depending on the outcome you just see the consequence on the screen. In the Background the Dice - NICE!

The traveling system is also very good. You can visit almost 50 locations (cities and dungeons) by travelling by foot or by ship. During your journeys you meet a lot of NPCs which can be helpful or just want to have a chat with you. It's up to you if you talk to them. Also it can happen that ships get attacked by Pirates or sea-monster. It can happen that you travel longer than one day. Then its important to have someone in your party, who can hunt animals or find water or herbage. Sleeping is always important to regenerate Hit- and Mana-points. When you sleep in the wilderness and don't arrange guards for the night you get attacked almost every night. As one can see DSA is a lot of logical management for a group of six people.

The fighting is based on Rounds. When you walk through a city you see the first person perspective and when a fight comes out it changes to an isometric perspective. The whole fighting is almost like chess. You ave movement points for every action. The account of these points depends on how much your characters carry. I never had the feeling the AI was too dumb or too strong if you make the right decision. (When you sent a thief into the blades of three orcs, it's your fault) The enemies most times flee when they recognize that they are loosing.

Sounds like a typical RPG as Baldurs Gate but I think the real excellence of the DSA-Trilogy is the role playing element as it was in times of Ultima. For example:

Your group are forced to eat and to drink otherwise they die (sometimes a real problem in dungeons far away from any city). So you must have a character which is good in hunting. You have to chose the right answers in dialogues. For example you have to be polite to women. You can sleep and you HAVE to sleep! You can get drunk - consequence is that all your basic values sink except the courage gets higher ;) When you travel you can get ill if you don't have the right clothes. You can be a good musician and earn extra money. You can steal but be careful. When you want to negotiate about some prices be good in it, otherwise the dealer kicks you out and let you there for days. Warriors are men/women of honor and so they can't use any type of poison and prefer no help in fights. These are just examples for the Role-Playing Element. There are so many I cannot count them. But I think that is what the world of DSA makes it so alive. You never have the feeling the NPCs are waiting just for you. They and you are part of a world and have to arrange each other.

One word to the graphics. The first part "Blade of Destiny" is old. That's fact! Most people are deterred when they see the game. Even I was. But one gets very quick used to it. And the really lovely, fantastic soundtrack let you forget the monotone graphics. I listen to it sometimes beyond the game.

The last thing that makes "Blade of Destiny" and the whole trilogy unique besides that it is most times really funny (jokes on every corner) and that you can play the whole trilogy with one party is the fact that BoD is one of these oldschool games with impasses...... I know I know most people hate this but you know what I hate - modern games which indulge the gamers with so stupid things that you can never ever loose. What the *!°/@* is going on. The whole industry is afraid that the player get bored when he dies in the game or even has to think about a puzzle (Yeah Bob lets implement the game solution as a watch!) PENG. That's not gaming. I mean it is. But it is so sketchy.

When you make a game where the player is playing a Role and where you can interact with a whole world then the world has to act realistic. And sorry my world hasn't shown me the way to treasure and the princess yet!

Of course there are games with a lot of impasses and stupid ones too but in DSA it is really balanced. If you read all things attentively and make logical conclusions nothing really bad can happen. But this fact makes it a really realistic and a grown up-game!

The Bad

In the first part of the trilogy it's only possible to walk step by step. Not so bad but I prefer the smooth walk of an Ego-Shooter. You can choose these option in the other two Parts "Star Trail" and "Shadows over Riva".

Well DSA is famous for its stories but in the PC-Game the main plot is kind of flat and sometimes ridiculous but all the other quests are really lovely. It never bothered me though I love good stories in games. But as I said the game has its own method for a deep atmosphere.

The handling is sometimes really annoying when you have to manage 6 inventories and everything is stacked. They improved the handling from game to game.

The graphics of the dungeons are really boring most times. You can find a lot of nice locations but you just see plain walls. Every interesting thing you explore in a dungeon is described by text boxes. Thank god they changed it in the other parts.

The effect of poison is too extreme in this part.

You have a time limit in this part. I think 1 1/2 year and than the Orcs overrun the country. But the time you have lasts at least.

Some questions are really difficult if your are not into the P&P Game of DSA - but hey there are a lot of solutions in the web.

The Bottom Line

If you want a REAL Role-Playing-Game with an unique atmosphere, a vast world to explore, a stunning soundtrack a balanced gameplay and if you like character processing in a game then the trilogy of "Realms of Arkania" is the best game if your are not lost in Ultima VII yet...