Eschalon: Book I

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Eschalon: Book I
Logo for Eschalon: Book I
Developer(s) Basilisk Games
Distributor(s) Steam
Desura
gog.com
Series Eschalon
Engine BlitzMax
Platform(s)
Release date(s) November 19, 2007 (Windows)
December 11, 2007 (Mac OS X)
December 21, 2007 (Linux)
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution CD-ROM, cloud computing, digital distribution

Eschalon: Book I is an isometric turn-based role-playing video game by Basilisk Games. In the style of classic role-playing video games, it features a large and openly explorable game world, comprehensive management of character stats and skills, and a non-linear storyline. It is scheduled to be the first in a trilogy of games set in the fantasy world of Eschalon.[1]

The game was released for Windows on November 19, 2007. Customers could buy a digital download or a CD Version. The Macintosh version was released on December 11 of the same year, with only a digital download available. The Linux version then came on December 21, again only with the option of a digital download. On January 14, 2008 Thomas Riegsecker, the owner of Basilisk Games made an announcement that any CD Versions sent out will now contain all three versions of Eschalon: Book I.[2]

A sequel, Eschalon: Book II, was released on May 12, 2010 for Windows, with the Linux and Mac OS X versions following on May 26.[3]

Gameplay[edit]

Eschalon: Book I is played from an isometric perspective with turn-based combat. The player controls one character which is created at the beginning of the game. The story revolves around your character who is suffering from amnesia. He discovers a land that has been affected by war and begins a quest to find out who he is. At the character creation screen, the computer rolls a random number between 7 and 14 for each attribute which are: Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Speed, Intelligence, Wisdom, Perception and Concentration. The player has 15 points to distribute between the attributes, and can make the computer roll the numbers again. There are five classes, 24 individual skills and five different origins and beliefs allowing for a wide range of different characters.

Throughout the game the player will come across numerous NPCs that offer services, information and quests.

Plot[edit]

The map of Thaermore where Book I takes place.

The game begins in the abandoned village of Elderhollow, with the player character suffering from amnesia. A simple search of the ruined house you wake up in turns up a sealed note. Whoever wrote the note claims to know who you are, and compels you to head north east to the village of Aridell, to meet a man by the name of Maddock and claim a small package he has been safeguarding for you. With nothing else to go on, the player arrives in Aridell and receives the package from Maddock. Inside is a small bag full of coins, and another sealed note. This new note elaborates on your situation, that your memory was erased with a special serum and that you were placed into hiding for your own protection. The writer continues, that if the player wants to know his real identity he must retrieve his amulet from Eversleep Cemetery, found to the north. After retrieving the amulet from the coffin of the recently deceased aristocrat Adler Keldam, the writer asks you to find a woman by the name of Lilith who lives in Tangletree Forest, in the "Heart of the Woods" and show her the amulet.

Talking to the locals in Aridell reveals you are in Eastern Thaermore, and that the country is currently at war with the Orakur, a race of underground dwellers. The war is being waged due to the theft of a prized jewel known as the "Crux of Ages", stolen from Bastion Spire, the capital of Thaermore. The Chancellor has ordered all soldiers underground to find the Orakur, leaving settlements to fend for themselves. With the Commonwealth Guards away, Goblins have taken advantage of the situation and destroyed the village of Elderhollow. They have also captured Grimmhold, a fortress which use to cut a safe path through Tangletree Forest to the other side.

The dialogue screen.

When the player finds Lilith, she is willing to explain the purpose of your amulet, but not before you dispatch a Hive Queen which has been plaguing Tangletree Forest. After doing the deed, Lilith says that the amulet is a key to "The Underground Repository", a secret vault where important people keep their valuables. Lilith points you towards Blackwater, where the vault is located, and she shows you her amulet to prove she is not lying. Arriving in Blackwater, the player will eventually discover a secret passageway leading to the vault. Opening the security box that belongs to your amulet, you find another sealed note along with the "Crux of Ages". The writer finally reveals himself, revealing himself to be you. You found the prized jewel while scavenging a goblin battleground along with your brother. A powerful Goblin Shaman by the name of "Gramuk" is using a technique called "Temporal Linking" to find the people who found the prized jewel. This was why your memory was erased, to protect you from Gramuk and his goblin horde. Your brother however was captured by the Goblins before he could erase his memory, and is being tortured at Vela, a once prosperous port city destroyed by the Goblins. Your old self believes Gramuk is influencing the Chancellor into making poor war decisions, allowing the Goblins to move deeper into Thaermore.

The player arrives in the goblin infested city of Vela and finds his brother. Your brother begs you to warn Erubor, a powerful wizard that resides in Shadowmirk about Gramuk and the Goblin hordes. Shadowmirk is a secluded place of study for Wizards. At the end of your short reunion, your brother will ask you to kill him to stop the pain. In Shadowmirk the player will find Erubor, and he will reveal all. The goblins stole the "Crux of Ages", and Gramuk manipulated the Chancellor into believing the Orakur were responsible. Erubor asks that you venture into the barrens of Crakamir and enter the Goblin Citadel, the heart of the enemy to stop Gramuk. The gate to Crakamir is locked, but the player can find alternative routes to the desert. Erubor tells you about four special keys that are required to go deeper into the citadel. The wizard already has one, and hands you it. Erubor continues, explaining that another key resides with a community of Giants near the Goblin Citadel. They are his allies, and Erubor will tell their Chieftain Omar of your coming. Omar will only hand over the key if you recover their former chieftain's skull from Thorndike, an abandoned hunting ground north east from Blackwater. The other two keys are in the possession of Goblin Warlords, one in Vela and one in Grimmhold. Before you leave, Erubor tells you of a portal in the Citadel that was used to steal the "Crux of Ages", and that you can use it to return the prized jewel to Bastion Spire.

Combat is played out in turns.

If the player aids Omar, several Giants will help you assault the entrance of the Goblin Citadel. Using the four Goblin Keys, the player is allowed to venture deeper into the Citadel. Entering the lair of Gramuk, the Goblin Shaman will make you an offer. If you hand over the "Crux of Ages" and leave Thaermore, Gramuk will give you enough gold to last you a lifetime. If you accept, Gramuk will be true to his word and Thaermore will fall to the Goblin hordes. If you refuse, Gramuk will attack along with several large spiders. Mortally wounding Gramuk, he will transform into a Dirachnid (A massive spider) and the battle continues. Gramuk finally falls before the player, giving access to the secret portal to Bastion Spire. Entering the portal, the player can either return the "Crux of Ages" and allow Thaermore to recover, or murder the Chancellor while he is vulnerable. If the player returns the prized jewel, the Chancellor will wake up from his nightmare and the two of you will share a short conversation before the ending cinematic.

Versions[edit]

Original Cover of CD Version.

Eschalon: Book I is available as a direct download or as a CD Version. The CD Version of Eschalon: Book I was originally only available for Windows, and including the following extras:

  • High resolution digital map of Thaermore
  • Extended music track of the main theme
  • Teaser Trailer formatted for Windows Media Player and DivX
  • Seven unique screenshots with notes following the progress of Eschalon: Book I

Thomas Reigsecker announced on January 14, 2008 that future purchases of the CD Version will now include all three platforms (Windows, Macintosh and Linux). There are two differences between the new CD Version and the original which now has a "slightly altered DVD jacket, and the disc itself has a green gradient instead of the tan gradient of the Windows-only disc."[4] The extras remain the same.

Reception[edit]

Eschalon: Book I has generally received favorable reviews from gaming critics, scoring 75% at Metacritic from four reviews. Macworld awarded the game 3.5/5, claiming that "Eschalon: Book I is a great attempt at an “old school” role-playing game that’s worth playing, and definitely worth the download time."[5] RPG Codex gave Book I a positive review and praised the music in particular, "It's a perfect soundtrack for the depicted locations, sets the mood properly and, while the number of tracks is quite small, manages not to become boring."[6] A common criticism from gamers that Riegsecker himself admits is the shortness of the game, with most players finishing Book I in under twenty hours.[7] GameBanshee selected Eschalon: Book I as runner-up for its 2007 "Independent RPG of the Year" award.[8] In a September 2009 interview, Riegsecker also revealed that sales were 25% higher than originally projected, and that about a year after the games release they saw a profit. He also broke down the games sales by platform: 48% Windows, 42% Macintosh, and 10% Linux.[9]

Expansion[edit]

On November 24, 2007, Riegsecker mentioned the possibility of a free add-on where the player is allowed to travel to Ash Island, an area currently unavailable.[10] On February 8, 2008, Riegsecker announced that the add-on had taken a back seat to development of the next installment of the Eschalon series (Eschalon: Book II) due to technical problems.[11] This expansion was planned to add another four to five hours of gameplay and would have been independent from the main storyline.[12]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]