the writings of a mind

Title: Mistmare
Genre: RPG
Big Word: Smog
Strap: Is it on target, or will it have mist? We havenít the foggiest.

"Look what you got us into!"

"Me, are you crazy? If you knew how to keep your mouth shut, the punishment would probably be to make our beds or something like that!"

"Well, I guess youíre right. I should keep quiet. I should learn to think before talking. Iím sorry."

Itís enough to make Hegel proud. Itís the level of dialogue from Arxel Tribeís latest.

Try to imagine that youíve never played a role playing game, but that you have a friend who likes them. Youíve watched him play now and then, not paying that much attention, because letís be honest, no one likes to watch someone else play a game. ("No, no, wait, Iím just getting us to a good bitÖ") Occasionally youíve thought about playing an RPG - your friend seems to get lots of entertainment from them - but in the end you never do. Ok? Right, so now imagine that from this position, you sit down to write one yourself.

Here are some basic rules you might not know about:

If you have a third person perspective, camera mounted behind the characterís shoulder, you move them with the keyboard Ė not by aimlessly clicking the mouse on the scenery.

If you have elaborate quantities of statistics, weapons, and skill categories, itís important to have some form of interactive combat Ė not just holding down the letter ĎWí.

If you want your player to develop the character through the enormous number of skill levels and ability categories youíve created, you have to have the story take notice Ė not be an entirely linear script from which it cannot deviate.

I spent my training arsing around. The weapons combat guy wanted me to fight, but I didnít, because involvement in fighting consists of pressing the ĎWí key, and frankly, thatís insulting. The magic training guy wanted me to learn all sorts of spells, but I didnít, because magic involved pressing F5, then F6, 7 or 8, and nothing else, and frankly, thatís insulting. So instead I did stuff that took up huge quantities of the time. Like, for instance: opening a box (quarter of a day). And at the end of this, this impossible to control, horribly programmed, badly written, poorly animated mess, I was told,

"You are one of our best students ever."

It misses the point. It doesnít matter that itís set in a world of intense Christian faith and "Liturgical magic". It doesnít matter that there is a killer fog sweeping across the world. Mistmare has an enormous story with an elaborate back history, but itís buried deep in the fog it mentions so often, and told out through endlessly long dialogue boxes. Itís not truly an RPG at all Ė itís a bad European adventure game with statistics.

Margin Note:

Gotta Have Faith

Mistmare is extraordinarily buried in extreme Christian dogma. Characters at the monastery in which you start all spout bizarre sermons on the fundamental importance of Jesus Christ, out of context Bible verses, and reminders that they are only there for God. Alongside the notion of Liturgical magic and fighting monks, itís hard to know if this is the work of an extreme fundamentalist, or just a mentalist.

 Anything that might be good is far too deeply buried in the bad. Amateur.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Mindscape
Developer: Arxel Tribe
Price: £30
Minimum System: PIII 450, 100Mb RAM, 200Mb HD space, 16Mb 3D card
Recommended: PIII 600, 256Mb RAM, 32 Mb 3D card
Multi-player: No
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