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Spellshard: A must play 
 PostMon Feb 20, 2012 7:22 pm
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These screenshots and more can be found on their website. My saves were at the end of the game and I didn't want to spoil anything!
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Well designed puzzles and dungeons!
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Exciting battles and old school fun!
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Entertaining graphics and text!

Spellshard: A must play

In any given year, it's extremely uncommon to see a complete ohrrpgce RPG. It's even rarer to find one that's hard to put down. Spellshard is such a game -- it's the real deal!

Spellshard stars a cast of 4 player-chosen-and-named characters in classic RPG fashion. You're treated to great graphics and some quick back story. Long ago, brave warriors defeated the lords of decay, the world had robots and skyscrapers, but somehow the lords of decay returned and the world's technology magically reverts into primitive forms, such as robot housewives becoming cooking pots, (a NPC mentions this in the first town in outstanding and imaginative dialogue that continues throughout the game.)

You begin your quest by answering a king's call for help. Under advisement, the king has sent descendants of the six heroes of old to deal with the lords of decay. Being farmers and merchants, they died. The tone is set: your mission is to defeat the area's evil and watch the locals wise up in the process. It's very rewarding.

The biggest takeaway is that this game makes big promises and delivers. It comes with a poster that looks like it came right out of an ad in an old gaming magazine, and an actual PDF manual. It's worth downloading just to see them.

Looking at the screenshots, you'll get the idea this is a throwback to old NES games like Dragon Quest, and you're right, except I found this much more entertaining to play. The heroes talk, the battles, (boss battles especially,) require clever play, and the dungeons are themed with traps and layouts where you aren't wandering boring halls. In other games, dungeons feel like filler and padding between more exciting parts, but here most of them are exciting by themselves. There are optional bosses, secret passages, interesting puzzles, and even a hedge maze you solve with a clever trick.

That said, Spellshard also shares the same kind of oddities as the classics. It's up to you whether you treat them with affection or scorn. The biggest one would be the desert map. It's huge, and you'll likely find yourself wandering it for the better part of a half hour if you're unlucky. The trick is to understand the map wraps itself, so you'll want to wander at such an angle where once you reach the edge of the map, you'll cover new ground when it starts you on the other side.

The game really picks up after this. There is a shaolin fighting tournament, a dungeon inside a whale, a dream sequence that's absolutely amazing and a must see, a brief trip through space, a water town you have to use rafts in, and an amazing final chapter.

You're lucky if you find at least one moment so awesome that it causes you pause in a RPG. Spellshard has quite a few. Looking back on it, (it's been many months since I finished,) the one I remember most is the scene that happens right after your first class change. The text can get to you if you allow it. The game is light-hearted at times, but it has a strong maturity about it that really hit home with me. It gives you good motivation to defeat the bosses and save the land. The final few lords of decay in particular have very provocative text.

I played the game on a non-wide screen TV using a usb controller pad. The experience was an absolute blast. If you have any fond memories of playing NES games all night, this game can bring them back. It took me a week or two to finish the game at a very casual pace, with maybe three or so nights where I couldn't put it down.

If you're stuck, check out the F.A.Q. on their website: http://www.spellshard.crithit.org/

The best advice I can give is to not worry about grinding unless you really need to, save often, and run away from random fights when you feel you're at a good level. The best place to level up is always the next area, with the final area being the absolute best. There's an area in the middle where you can steal permanent stat boosting items, so if that's your thing make sure you pick the thief. There are two class changes, where you pick between two for each character each time. Pick them very carefully depending on how you like to play.

I've played all the games released in the same year, and it's no contest. If you want to play an old school RPG, one that can stand up to the classics, Spellshard is it.
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