Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva

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Realms of Arkania:
Shadows over Riva
Realms of Arkania Shadows over Riva.jpg
Cover art by Ugurcan Yüce
Developer(s)Fantasy Productions
Attic Entertainment Software
Publisher(s)TopWare Interactive
Sir-Tech
U.S. Gold
Designer(s)Guido Henkel
Hans-Jürgen Brändle
Horst Weidle
Programmer(s)Hans-Jürgen Brändle
Lothar Ahle
Wolfgang Schulz
Artist(s)Vadim Pietrzynski
Markus Henrich
André Taulien
Composer(s)Guido Henkel
SeriesRealms of Arkania
Platform(s)MS-DOS
ReleaseDEU December 1996
INT 1997
Genre(s)Role-playing
Mode(s)Single player

Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva (German title: Das Schwarze Auge: Schatten über Riva, translated as "The Dark Eye: Shadow above Riva") is a role-playing video game based on the German role-playing game system Das Schwarze Auge by Attic Entertainment Software. It is a sequel to Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny and Realms of Arkania: Star Trail. The original German version of the game was published by TopWare Interactive in 1996. Sir-Tech released the English version in 1997.

The game was re-released with Windows support in 2009 on Gog.com, with macOS support added in 2013; it as also released in 2014 on Steam.

Gameplay[edit]

Plot[edit]

Shadows over Riva picks up where the party left off in Realms of Arkania: Star Trail. After uniting the dwarves and elves, the party stops by the harbor city of Riva, which is currently under siege by the Orcish hordes. The city is on edge. The countryside's once lucrative dwarven mine has been decimated and occupied by the Orcs after a string of well-coordinated attacks. For some unknown reason, the magistrate refuses to recognize the threat the orcs pose just outside the city gates. Meanwhile, rumors abound of traitors in the slum ridden-Hoberkian community and strange corpse disappearances within the city's graveyard, the Field of Boron.

As the party investigates each lead, more questions seem to surface than answers. After penetrating the dwarven mines the deviousness of the traps suggests that the Orcs have somehow become much smarter and more organized than normally possible. No longer are they fragmented tribes warring among themselves. They speak of a single, wise, all-powerful chieftain with the powers of a wizard. Upon confronting the chieftain deep within the mines, he summons a massive demon from the underworld to fight the party. This alone is rare, as orcs have never had the intelligence required to master magic, let alone the skills of one of the most powerful wizards. Since this has not been the only time the party has fought demons, the party manages to kill it, sending it back to the underworld. Upon killing the Orc chieftain, a tiny worm emerges from chieftain's head and flees.

Returning to the city with this new information, the party still finds the city's magistrate apathetic. They befriend the Holberkians when they save one of them from a mob. Far from the traitors they had been painted, it turns out the Hoberkians are faithful friends. Being half-elves and half-Orcs, they have knowledge of the orcish hordes, earning the enmity of the city, which thinks they are responsible for the Orcish siege of the city. They also have noticed a pronounced change in the Orcs' activity, suggesting an outside influence. They reveal a long-absent sorcerer living on an island in the swamp who could have been responsible for the changes in the orcs. The next day, one of the Hoberkians takes the party to the sorcerer's tower. There the party finds numerous experiments and letters all pointing to a person known only as Borborad and his shipment of two worm queens. One queen was delivered but a second was lost en route when the urn sank with a cargo ship in Riva's harbor during a storm. Research notes further reveal a wealth of information on the worm spawn from the queen. They possessed extreme intelligence and could possess hosts by entering their brains through the nose. They were also linked telepathically to the queen who spawned them and could not be killed unless you killed the queen who resided within a hive which was invincible to attack due to the queen's magic.

After returning to Riva, the party speaks with the magistrate about their suspicions. Instead of immediate action, the magistrate dismisses the group. Within the day, they are framed for murder. It is at this time that an underground movement contacts the group and offers them sanctuary as well as the use of an underground tunnel system that surfaces in every temple. They are informed of the movement's suspicions that the magistrate is under some unknown influence, possibly a worm spawn. If so, it would explain why the party was framed for murder—they know too much and are a threat to exposing the entire plot. They are told to rescue a group of wizards from the magistrate's prison island during the night. There they see an attempted worm implantation which the wizard manages to fight off. After the rescue, the wizards inform the group that it was the magistrate who had an expedition to recover the sunken ship items from the harbor. One of the urns was brought to him. Upon opening the urn, the worm queen was released. It possessed the magistrate, established a hive, and used its worm spawn to possess various people around the city. The worm queen is able to hear and see everything the possessed townsfolk see and hear. The group is told that the one remaining urn in the sunken ship is required to learn more about the queen and a means to defeat them. After obtaining the urn from the merfolk that live in the waters near Riva's harbor, the wizards spend a few days studying the queen inside.

When they[ambiguous] finally summon the group, they give them a shrinking spell that reduces them to worm size, allowing them to enter the magically reinforced hive. They fight their way through the hive, pick their way through a confusing maze, and fight off telepathic nightmares sent by the queen. Finally they come face-to-face with the massive queen and stave off her magic and pincer attacks. After killing the queen, they return to their normal size, destroying the hive as they grow, since the magic protecting the hive walls broke with the queen's death. Everywhere in the city, the worm spawn are dying and falling out of their hosts. Unfortunately, none of them recall them being under the influence of the spawn, so the group is still considered to be a band of fugitives. They are forced to escape the city, but they go with the knowledge and satisfaction that they saved everyone from the orcish invasion. Without the queen's leadership, the orcish horde fragments back into their warring tribes. Even though they still outnumber the alliance of elves, dwarves, and humans, they are no match for their combined might. The realms of Arkania are safe once again thanks to the group of heroes. But somewhere Borborad rages. He swears vengeance against all who managed to defeat his plans.

Side-stories[edit]

There is a side quest involving the disappearances of corpses from the city cemetery known as the Field of Boron. The group finds one freshly dug grave to be a fake which leads to a shapeshifter's quarters below ground. Upon killing the shapeshifter and its demon summon, there is information indicating the presence of a felimia, an elven vampire. This leads the party to another side quest to investigate the sewers where they run across a massive humanoid rat, the city's rat catcher, and an old slight hag. Upon further wandering through the sewers, the group runs into the city's secret underground resistance. There, the old hag suddenly displays inhuman powers as she grabs the nearest elf, kills him, then changes into a beautiful elven female sporting vampiric canines. The group finds out from different citizens that, the last time the city caught the felimia, they imprisoned her in a coffin buried in the Field of Boron. Digging up the coffin the group finds it empty with a hole in its bottom that leads to the shapeshifter's quarters. The felimia had bypassed the charms placed on the cover of the coffin by breaking through the bottom of the coffin. Later, the resistance contacts the party and tells them that, the last time they fought the felimia, they learned that Moonlight can kill the felimia. With the help of the resistance, the group finds the felimia's lair behind a magic mirror. Inside, they find a magically locked trunk that belonged to the resistance and open it with the password given to them. Inside is a moonlantern, moonstone, a cloak, and magic dagger. The cloak turns out to be an invisibility cloak that allows the wearer to turn invisible to normal people but also bestows the ability to see the felimia. At this point, the resistance member dons the cloak, sees the invisible felimia standing right next to them in the room and attacks her with the dagger. He chases her into a room of mirrors. Finally, the group kills the felimia in the room of mirrors when they light the moonstone and place it into the lantern. The beam of the lantern rebounds off several mirrors until it strikes the felimia, which was charging at the group. The moonlight kills the felimia, reducing her to nothing in a brilliant flash of light. With this, the underground resistance is forever grateful to your group and later aids you when you are framed for murder.

Out in the countryside, near the dwarven mines, there is a set of boots embedded in stone. When you grasp it, your party is transported to a mouthless cavern deep in the mountains. There you are confronted by a nameless warrior who wearing the set of boots. He acknowledges that you are after his magical boots. He tells you that he's been imprisoned there with the boots for ages and seeks death but can not die by his own hands. But as a warrior he can not simply let you have the boots. He seeks to let you fight him for the boots. The boots enable him to have greater speed and range than any normal combatant. But you have the advantage of numbers against him. Upon killing him, he dies with a relieved smile and you are able to take the pair of boots from him.

A side quest comes up when you investigate the sunken ship of Riva's harbor. The moment you walk about the water, your party is immediately attacked by a group of merpeople with tridents. After fighting them off, you encounter a second group of merpeople. If you decide not to attack this second group, they turn out to be friendly and take you to see the merking at their palace. The merking tells you that some of his people have been under some evil influence since the sinking of another ship in the harbor. He asks you to investigate and solve the problem. You can accept or reject this quest with no consequence to your primary quest of retrieving the urn. However, if you accept, the merking will also mention that his daughter feels that one in your party has extreme attraction to her and would like to reciprocate the feelings. You can accept or reject this offer as well. If you accept, the merprincess will join the party which relieves you from more potential attacks by merpeople. Within the bowels the second sunken ship, you find the culprit is bottles of alcohol that line the supply room. You can choose to smash all the alcohol in the room. If you do, all attacks by enraged merpeople will stop. When you report back to the palace, the merking will mention that the merprincess and your party member feel even closer than before. He offers the party member a life under the sea in his court. If you accept, the party member with the greatest charisma will leave the group with the merprincess. If you refuse, the party will acknowledge that the current quest is more important and bid a fond farewell to the merfolk. In either case the merprincess leaves the party as soon as you leave the water environment.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
PublicationScore
PC Gamer (UK)79%[2]
PC Gamer (US)88%[1]
Next Generation4/5 stars[3]
Computer Games Magazine4/5 stars[4]
PC PowerPlay84%[5]
Computer Game Entertainment87/100[6]

According to Die Zeit, all three games in the Realms of Arkania series, including Shadows over Riva, were commercially and critically successful.[7] Riva alone sold over 400,000 units by 2008.[8][9] The paper's Nicole Lange reported in 2011 that the three Realms of Arkania entries together had surpassed 2.4 million sales worldwide.[7]

In PC Gamer US, Michael Wolf wrote, "We roleplaying gamers are lucky — other RPGs slated for release this year will probably have better graphics, more intuitive interfaces, and more non-linear adventuring. But this one still has everything a real RPG fan could want."[1] Steve Faragher of PC Gamer UK praised the game as a return to form for its genre, writing that it captured the "good ol' role-playing feel that's so desperately unpopular with games designers today".[2]

A reviewer for Next Generation criticized the game's reuse of combat mechanics and graphical assets from Star Trail, but believed that "the story line makes it all worth playing". The writer concluded, "Role-playing gamers will definitely be able to sink their teeth into this one."[3] Robert Mayer of Computer Games Strategy Plus called the game "a ray of sunlight for fantasy gamers", and "a winner, a solid statistics-based RPG in an era of lightweight imitations."[4]

In Computer Gaming World, Scorpia called Shadows over Riva "yet another of those products that aggravate me more than outright turkeys", due to the design of its final sequence and ending. However, she believed that the game was "still manna for a CRPG-starved gaming public", and worthwhile for those who overlooked its flaws.[10] PC PowerPlay's David Wildgoose lauded the game as "a cracking good adventure" with "great character interaction and conversation", but found fault with its "unnecessary" reliance on statistics.[5] Andy Backer of Computer Game Entertainment called Shadows over Riva a "solid and satisfactory" experience that fans of the genre "will undoubtedly welcome ... with open arms."[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wolf, Michael (August 1997). "Shadows Over Riva". PC Gamer US. Archived from the original on March 12, 2000.
  2. ^ a b Faragher, Steve. "Shadows over Riva". PC Gamer UK. Archived from the original on May 3, 2002.
  3. ^ a b Staff (September 1997). "Realms of Arkania III: Shadows over Riva". Next Generation. Imagine Media (33): 138, 143.
  4. ^ a b Mayer, Robert (August 1997). "Shadows over Riva". Computer Games Strategy Plus (81): 102. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005.
  5. ^ a b Wildgoose, David (August 1997). "Shadows Over Riva". PC PowerPlay (15). 60, 61.
  6. ^ a b Backer, Andy (August 1997). "Realms of Arkania III: Shadows Over Riva". Computer Game Entertainment (2): 91.
  7. ^ a b Lange, Nicole (September 23, 2011). "Zu deutsch für den Rest der Welt". Die Zeit. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016.
  8. ^ http://archive.is/nFuqq
  9. ^ http://archive.is/CScIQ
  10. ^ Scorpia (September 1997). "Leave It to Riva". Computer Gaming World (158). 249, 250.

External links[edit]