Gothic (video game)
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Gothic is a single-player action role-playing video game for Windows developed by the German company Piranha Bytes. It was first released in Germany on March 15, 2001, followed by the English North American release eight months later on November 23, 2001, and the Polish release on March 28, 2002.
Gothic has been well received by critics, scoring an average of 80% and 81/100 on Game Rankings' and Metacritic's aggregates, respectively. Reviewers credited the game for its story, complex interaction with other in-game characters, and graphics, but criticized it for the difficult control scheme and high system requirements.
The main character must complete quests and slay wild animals and monsters to earn skill points, which are used to increase basic attributes, improve skills, and learn trades. They are spent by finding the appropriate teacher. Several skills have only one "level" (Sneaking, Acrobatics), while the fighting skills (one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, bows and crossbows) have two proficiency levels. If the Hero chooses to be a Mage (or joins the Swamp Camp), he will be able to learn Circles of Magic; of which there are 6. The main attributes are increased in 1 or 5 point increments, starting at 10 and capping off at 100. The cap can be surpassed with the use of potions.
The game places a special focus on the interactivity of the environment. For example, hunting wild animals can earn the player raw meat. This heals damage and can be sold. However, by using a stove or frying pan, the player may also choose to turn this into grilled meat, which heals much more effectively. Similarly, most of the activities other characters can be seen doing (playing musical instruments, stirring soup pots, urinating etc.) can be done by the main character as well (although with the exception of forging weapons these activities have little bearing on the game).
The player can choose which camp to join, although quests get increasingly linear and the distinctions between different factions wane in the latter parts of the game. The major difference is that Swamp Camp members cannot become mages, because they are limited to 4 magic circles (out of 6). However, they gain access to magic earlier.
The game takes place in a medieval fantasy realm in which humans are fighting a losing war against the Orcs, a humanoid race. In order to fight back, the king needs to extract magical ore from mines, which can be used to forge more powerful weapons. Therefore he decides to send every man who has committed a crime to the ore mines.
To prevent the convicts from escaping he orders his 12 most powerful magicians to erect a magical dome over the mining colony. However, the Barrier goes out of control and grows large enough to cover the entire valley, trapping the magicians inside, and giving the convicts a chance to kill the distracted guards and take control over the colony. The king is thus forced to come to an agreement with the prisoners, trading goods for ore.
Soon after, the convicts separate into three different groups: the Old Camp which controls trading with the king, the New Camp which refuses to trade the ore they mine, and instead plan to use its magical power to explode the Barrier, and the Brotherhood, whose members believe in a god called the Sleeper which will help them escape from the colony. The magicians that created the Barrier also divided; they formed the Fire Mages, who joined the Old Camp, and the Water Mages, who joined the New Camp.
The player takes control of an unnamed prisoner who has just been thrown inside the mining colony. Before being sent in, the player receives a letter which he is tasked to deliver to the Fire Mages of the Old Camp. After getting the chance to talk with the magicians, the protagonist learns that Xardas, the head of the Fire Mages who is supposed to receive the letter, deserted in order to study black magic.
After joining one of the three camps, the protagonist ends up aiding the Sect Camp prepare the invocation of their god, the Sleeper, which they believe will show them the way to escape the colony. During the ritual the members have a vague vision and Y'Berion, the leader of the Brotherhood who performed the ritual, collapses after getting in contact with the Sleeper. In the vision, the sect members are shown the way to an old Orc cemetery. A guru and a few templars, together with the hero, set off towards the indicated place. Once there, however, the templars die fighting the Orcs they meet, and only the guru and the protagonist survive. After searching the entire underground complex the two fail to find anything. The guru then goes insane and starts accusing the hero that it is because of him that the Sleeper refuses to reveal himself, and attempts kill the protagonist.
After defeating the mad guru, the hero returns to the camp of the Brotherhood where he finds Y'Berion still weakened after the ritual. Despite efforts to help him recover, Y'Berion soon dies. Before dying, however, he warns the rest of the camp about the true, evil, nature of the god they thought was leading them on the path to freedom, and places his hopes on the escape plan of the Water Mages from the New Camp to blow up the Barrier using the power of the magical ore.
Bearing important information about the recent events in the Sect Camp, the player is given permission to see the Water Mages, who ask for help with their escape plan. After the hero acquires all the needed artifacts with the help of four convicts he has befriended, the Water Mages now need the help of the Fire Mages to channel the magical energy. However, the protagonist finds out the Old Camp's gates have been closed after their ore mine collapsed. Fearful that this incident might deprive him of his power, the leader of the Old Camp sent his men to take control of the New Camp's mine and killed the Fire Mages who were protesting against his action; only Milten, the youngest of the magicians, managed to escape.
Having no other option left, the Water Mages send the hero to ask for Xardas, the magician who deserted the Fire Mages, to help them. However, Xardas refuses to help the Magicians of Water and thinks that their plan will not succeed. He instead tells the protagonist that during his studies he learned that the Sleeper was summoned by the Orcs in order to help them against their enemies and that the demon is in a temple deep underneath the Orc city. With the help of Xardas, the player manages to enter the Sleeper's temple. Upon defeating the demon, the Barrier collapses and sets the prisoners of the colony free.
Piranha Bytes worked more than 4 years on the development of Gothic's technology. The engine was created completely in-house, with a modified version later used for Gothic II. These are the only games to use this engine.
Marketing and release
Gothic was first released on March 15, 2001 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, published by Egmont Interactive. The North American release by Xicat Interactive followed more than half a year later on November 23, 2001. In February 2006 an international re-release was announced to prepare for Gothic 3 – which received much more attention from international media than the previous games. In the course of the re-release an English demo version was made available at the official website. The Demo contains a part of the first chapter of the game.
In Germany and some other countries, Gothic is also available in a Collector's Edition, bundled with Gothic II and Gothic II – The Night of The Raven, and Gothic - Fan Edition, including the official map of the Colony as well as a variety of extras.
The game has received generally positive reviews from game critics, scoring an average of 79.35% on GameRankings and 81/100 on Metacritic. IGN concluded that "Gothic is a solid role-playing experience" and Eurogamer said that it is a game that "developers should look to as an example of how a role-playing adventure should be done". GameSpot gave the game a slightly less positive review saying that despite Gothic's achievements in terms of story and dialog, players might still be disappointed by its shallow character development and poor combat mechanics.
- "Gothic - PC". Game Rankings. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Gothic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Taylor, Martin (2002-01-15). "Gothic". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Park, Andrew (2001-12-18). "Gothic PC Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Krause, Staci (2001-01-15). "Gothic". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Introduction video. "Xardas: The king needed swords for his army and every man guilty of a crime, no matter how insignificant, was forced to work in the Ore mines of Khorinis."
- "The Barrier...". Game manual. pp. 14–15.
- Thorsten Felden & Piranha Bytes (w), Henrik Fetz (p), Tom Thiel (i). Gothic - Der Comic: 13/1–3 (2000), Germany: Egmont Ehapa
- Thorsten Felden & Piranha Bytes (w), Henrik Fetz (p), Tom Thiel (i). Gothic - Der Comic: 13–14 (2000), Germany: Egmont Ehapa
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. "Hero: I have a letter for the High Magician of the Circle of Fire. [...] A magician gave me the letter shortly before they threw me into the colony. / Milten: This letter is addressed to Xardas! [...] He left us some years ago and turned towards black magic."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 2: The Minecrawler's nest. "Cor Kalom: Wait till nighttime, then come to the temple courtyard. We will gather there to invoke the almighty Sleeper."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 3: Artifacts of ancient power. "Cor Angar: The vision was very vague. [...] I saw an Orc in a cave. There is an old abandoned Orcish place of worship nearby. The Orcs used to bury their dead there, that's why we call this system of caves the Orc cemetery. The Guru Baal Lukor has gone there with some templars. Maybe we'll find something there to help us understand the vision."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 3: Artifacts of ancient power. "Hero: I've been to the Orc cemetery. There was NOTHING THERE. [...] The entire cave system is teeming with Ors. They killed all of the templars. Baal Lukor and myself survived, but suddenly Baal Lukor went mad. He screamed that the Sleeper had ordered him to kill me, and he intended to obey this order."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 3: Artifacts of ancient power. "Cor Angar: Y'Berion woke up for a short time while you were out. [...] he said that the Sleeper is not what we think he is. We must try not to awaken him again. [...] Shortly before he died, he placed all his hopes on the escape plan of the Magicians of Water."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 3: Artifacts of ancient power. "Saturas: There are not enough magicians in the Circle of Water to control the powerful energies and to guide them onto the right course. [...] Go to the Old Camp and try to win some of the Magicians of the Circle of Fire for our cause."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 4: Xardas. "Diego: The Old Mine caved in [...] Gomez was [...] afraid that his position could be at stake. [...] Corristo and the other mages were the only people in the Camp to remain rational. [...] Gomez didn't trust them any more[sic] and had them perfidiously assassinated. / Milten: I had a very narrow escape."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 4: Xardas. "Hero: I was sent by Saturas. [...] The Magicians of Water plan to use their big ore mound... / Xardas': Forget the ore mound! Its power won't open the Barrier."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Chapter 4: Xardas. "Xardas: The answer lies deep beneath the Orc town. [...] A few centuries ago, five Orc shamen invoked a very old arch demon which they hoped would give their clan the power to defeat their enemies."
- Piranha Bytes (2001-03-15). "Gothic". Xicat Interactive. Level/area: Ending video. "Hero: When the Sleeper was banished into his own dimension I returned to daylight. The magic Barrier had fallen."
- Developer's post jowood.de. Retrieved on August 3, 2006
- Gothic FAQ www.worldofgothic.de (German) Retrieved on August 3, 2006
- Gothic 3 website. Retrieved on August 3, 2006
- Katilovic, Dusan (2001-12-25). "Gothic Review". ActionTrip. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
- Wessel, Craig (2002-01-02). "Gothic (PC)". GameSpy. Retrieved 2009-01-16.
- "Gothic review". PC Gamer: 61. March 2002.
- GameStar. January 2002.