|David Masters / Nightwolf
The Lord of the Dead wants you to guard the gateway to his realm - can you handle it? 6 eps, Challenging 1024x768
"Dedication" series 1 of 14
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As an introductory comment, make sure to head into the Bergamo colony with some good money; you need to buy 24 Wine and 24 Orichalc before the monster appears (you can manufacture neither), and get three Horse Ranches going somewhere with purchased Wheat; they're all needed to summon the hero, and this monster destroys many buildings otherwise. Don't even bother setting up your Marble industry before she is defeated. Once the monster is gone, delete the Horse Ranches and expand your other industries, selling Marble and Timber to whoever wants it. This is the most challenging aspect of the adventure, I believe.
I took my time as I always tend to and found that sometimes butchered me on my own; the sanctuaries were sacrificing my Sheep faster than I could say "jackrabbit", and I had to replace them (and some Goats) every two years or so. I ran out of Fleece on a couple of occasions, too, when dealing with invasions and not concentrating on my necessities. It actually hurts the gameplay, IMO; seven sets of Shepherds is enough for a city my size, but the three sanctuary requirement is a killer to the industry. It might have been nice to be able to buy Fleece to back up the industry. Want to see a city of 5,000 shut down? Take away their Fleece, then remove the emphasis on Culture while trying to redistribute some. My pop dropped to about 900 or so, and I abandoned my mission to rebuild for two years. I managed, however.
I also found that when the colonies came up I didn't have an option for one of two colonies; I was forced to do Bergamo, but Asarma never surfaced. I must nix Playability for that as one colony is unplayable. With that said, the 120 Charioteers goal was an interesting challenge; it took some creative University placement within the neighbourhoods themselves (thus sending curators past houses on their way to the neighbourhood housing the Museum itself) in order to accomplish the otherwise all-but-impossible goal. The challenge was there! Medusa was also a pain, destroying the same Agora over and over while creating her own versions of sculptures; Echidna didn't do much, but came across my bridge once to terrorize something. She mainly killed people (and I saw her visiting a Wolf encampment a few times, even killing Ares' pet - who also snacked on wolves - in a fight, making me chuckle loudly).
Despite the playability issues, I found the game to have a good balance. There was some challenge in being able to afford the Marble (both types) early on, and having to import marble for all the tasks actually balanced out well with all the exporting and taxing you could do; if anything, the last episode had more of an imbalance (25K profit annually without fail, hello), but by that point you expect the adventure to be almost over and balance isn't a concern.
No sound files. Plain and simple. I hope to one day start creating some sound files for the series and re-release updated text files for the series (David hasn't answered me on two attempts in 2007 and recently regarding this), but we'll see how that goes. Unfortunately, creativity will be a maximum 4 for me on all such adventures in most cases, as sound files show creativity themselves. However, the combination of a good story and some rather twisted goals gives maximum points otherwise.
Map Design: 4
One huge issue with the map design. There was a HUGE patch of land on the right side across the river; once when I fought to defend my city, the invading army appeared - well, over there where the earthquake trails had popped up. They moved around back and forth for a couple of months while I watched, having no way to cross the river, and it wasn't until I put a bridge to the mainland that I could finally convince them to invade me. If a player didn't think of this, the invading army would be forever present on the east side of the map! (I did eventually plant an elite neighbourhood over there, however, which also helped defend the main city when the soldiers could stay over there.)
I rather enjoyed the story, which was the reason I considered creating sound files myself in the first place. Too bad we can't indicate on the map where the actual "dark realm" entrance is, but that's moot; the tasks and resulting story seemed to go together rather well. At the end, however, I wish we knew what the stolen Ambrosia was for; I recall in the Atlantis adventure (maingame), the speaker became a god himself at the end, while this Ambrosia...apparently was scattered in the wind.
Additional Comments: I took some time to finish this because I never bothered with my Silver industry, and came within 500 Drachmas of finishing in the year before my housing devolved due to Fleece (and, eventually, Culture) shortages. After I got my housing back, I finally realized that minting was the way to go. Turning off unneeded industries and sending my Frigate staff home (I had 10 trading partners now, war was over), I got 13 mints operating, hit 35K Drachmas (goal of 31K) in a year, and I got my final victory. Certainly some challenging goals in this adventure, and well-designed but for some playability concerns.