When I first got my hands on Eschalon Book II, from Basilisk Games, I was a little worried. I had never played Eschalon Book I, so when the name speaks it so definitively of it, that can not be a good sign for a newbie to the series like myself. True, I had heard good things about it from fans of the series, but I had not, up to this point, heard about it from a non-legacy fan. By reading this, however, you are going to!
Eschalon: Book II is a single player, turn based, strategy role-playing game. To be perfectly honest, it felt like a computer implementation of the classic pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons games; this made me nervous as well. Part of the reason that D&D is fun is because of the interaction, the community building, the team work, and the fact that it is a game that is impossible to play alone. Those attributes don’t seem so perfect for a single player game.
I am happy to report that they pulled it off. This game is very well done. The gameplay holds true to the D&D feel from the days of yore, while at the same time adjusting it perfectly to fit in a single player package. They even let you pick the house rules while setting up your game. It is a bit slow at times, but that is not a big problem. It allows you time to really enjoy the game, rather than being as hectic and rushed as so many games today tend to be. The leveling is the easiest thing to do right in RPG’s, but at the same time it is often over simplified to the point that it plays only a minor role. Here, that is not he case. It is implemented in all it’s importance and glory!
The graphics of Eschalon neither add to or take away from the game. They are good enough that you can enjoy the game, but also not at the level that they are a reason alone to pick up this title. The opposite can be said of the story. I found the story to be really well done, and rather engrossing as well. It was open enough to allow freedom of playing style, but at the same time linear enough to give you a great story to follow, rather than just the bits and pieces that some games give you.
All in all, I would have to say that this game is worth picking up for any fan of D&D. The character creation will feel familiar, the game-play will bring back memories, and the story will have you taking notes for the next chance you get to DM.
Make sure to check back throughout November for the next title in the November RPG Indie Roundup!
Be sure to follow Basilisk Games on Twitter @BasiliskGames[review pros="Great story, fun game-play" cons="Graphics are good enough" score=87]