Author Topic: REVIEW: Game04: The Lost City (by Ray Dyer)  (Read 865 times)

Offline ProphetSword

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REVIEW: Game04: The Lost City (by Ray Dyer)
« on: January 25, 2009, 08:05:14 PM »
Game04: The Lost City
by Ray Dyer

Overall Rating: 8.0

Reviewed by Chris Markwyn

       Another in the continuing "Realm" series of designs by Ray Dyer, "The Lost City" is an adaptation of one of the better B-series modules for the Basic set of Dungeons and Dragons. The plot is simple, a bit contrived perhaps, but it gets the job done. The party, escorting a caravan across the desert, is lost in a sandstorm. They stumble across a ruined city, discover an ancient pyramid, and must enter in in the hopes of finding a way to survive in the desert. The pyramid rests atop a buried city, and the party is quickly involved in the power struggles and politics of the surviving inhabitants.

       This is definitely one of the best "Realm" modules, and hence one of the best conversions of a pen-and-paper modules to UA. While my exact recollections of the original module are hazy after nearly a decade, "The Lost City" did an excellent job of capturing the feel of live gaming. There are the usual art hacks we've come to expect in a Realm game: new walls, backdrops, combat icons, etc. There is a bit of a range in quality, from near-photo sharpness to rather fuzzy scanned art (presumably from the original module) but this really doesn't detract from the gameplay. The opening title pics do a nice job of setting the stage for a dungeon crawl in a ruined city.

       One thing I quite liked about this module was the contrast between the mostly abandoned upper levels of the pyramid and the bustling city life below. The party becomes accustomed to the empty corridors of the pyramid, with the occasional monster or outpost of civilization, so when the ruined city is reached, it seems even more lively than it is. There is also a definite sense that the ruins are alive, that people are living and dying there outside of the party's immediate ken. Ray has managed to get beyond the common feel in a module that nothing happens except in response to the player's actions.

       "The Lost City" is fairly large, which is good. Some of the other Realm games, notably Swamplight, were too short for my taste. This is of course due to the length of the original pen-and-paper modules, but I like a nice long involved dungeon crawl sometimes. There is nothing truly groundbreaking in this design in terms of plot or hacks, but that's not the point of the Realm as I see it. The point of the Realm is to try and capture some of the feel of a classic D&D gaming session in a UA design, and "The Lost City" does that admirably.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2009, 05:51:40 PM by Olivier Leroux »

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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: REVIEW: Game04: The Lost City (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2009, 10:00:28 AM »
Game04: The Lost City
by Ray Dyer

Reviewed by Harri Polsa

     I did enjoy this game, for a while. It has a nice atmosphere all over, but later it turned into something somewhat annoying, in more ways than one, and I had some problems finishing it.

        The atmosphere was good, it felt like some ancient Egyptian tomb (as seen in popular movies, with traps and such all around). As the party proceeded deeper inside, the good vibes were somewhat lost. A bit too many enemies, with no apparent rhyme or reason to the consistency, and no apparent reason why all those monsters were there. Of course, we all know that their sole purpose for existence is to be vanquished by my party, but still I'd like at least some more reasonable reasoning for their existence.

    "We found a large pyramid and entered. First we met some guys, who offered us a place in their ranks. We refused, and guess what they do? They attack us. Weird. They said only males can join their ranks, there were no males among us, then they ask us to join... What a senseless waste... Anyway, later we met some women in armour, they asked if we wanted to join their ranks. We did, since it seemed more appropriate. Then we proceeded down and eventually came into a big underground city filled with loonies. Kara felt the best thing for them would be to simply kill them all, but fortunately her proposition was mostly ignored. We were informed that the monster (now worshipped as 'god') residing under the city had to be destroyed. Did that... at least we thought so. Chaos erupted and we needed to give some further assistance to these people. And I had thought we finished it already! We needed to find some 'flower' down in some catacombs, we got down there. There we were asked some 'moral' questions. It was a test. Now I won't say anything specific, but when my Mistress is put through tests like these, you'd better watch out. I don't know what happened. The spirit asking questions boomed 'wrong' after my Mistress had uttered her response (and if you ask me, that question had no right or wrong answer, it was all subjective), and said that 'all is now lost, including you!' Of course, my Mistress had some tricks up her sleeve and we found ourselves facing the same questions again. Realizing the spirit wasn't interested in honest responses, my Mistress responded with what it wanted to hear, and we were allowed to proceed."

       It was the second question. The first and last were okay, but the middle question was 'wrong', at least in a computer game, where we have only ones and zeroes to go on. The game announced that the story for my party had ended and I thought 'okay, so be it...' and just quit for a while. These things tend to bug me for a while, so I spent a moment or two doing something else. That, plus the fact that I felt some loss of atmosphere during the later parts of the game; too many 'out of place' monsters appeared, too many wandering monsters (I bet my party killed way over one hundred wandering goblins in the city 'after the event', before I used the editor to lower the random percent chance), these eventually caused me not to go back, at least not for a while. But I did, and finished the game. There was one bug, which prevented a complete finish, I had to play the final stages in the editor's 'test mode'. The 'guided tour' placed my party in the wrong location, which resulted in them missing the final sequence of events. Instead, I was outside again, and not knowing there was a bug involved, saved the game and went into the editor to look for clues. Naturally, my 'automatic instant save system' saved over the previous save...

        The overall presentation was mostly good. There were some (quite a lot, in fact) poor quality images, but there weren't any top quality images, so the poor quality didn't bother me that much. There wasn't much music heard during the game, but the intro music was good.

        I fear the impression I'm giving here makes it sound like I hated the game... well, I did, for a while. But understand, that it has happened in commercial games as well (it's a miracle I was able to finish Ultima - Ascension with all its stupid questionnaires). But other than the problems I listed (the question, monster abundance, bug?), it was a well-done UA design. I didn't enjoy the latter parts of the game, but actually liked the earlier parts, with the more 'quiet' area to explore.

[OL: This review was cropped from Harri's article Travels in the Realm - Part 2. To read the full story - including the fictional parts about Harri's party traveling in the Realm - use this link:

Offline PetrusOctavianus

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Re: REVIEW: Game04: The Lost City (by Ray Dyer)
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2018, 10:38:07 PM »
Playing the Westlands campaign of the Realms this is by far the largest module so far, about as big as the five previous ones put together.

I mostly agree with the reviews above.

Artwork was of variable quality.

The first part - the Pyramid - had excellent atmosphere and level design.

The second part - the caves under the Pyramid -  was the weakest part, with routine level design and not much of a monster "ecology". It felt a bit like walking around a zoo and opening the cages.

Things picked up once reaching the Lost City proper, and combatwise this last part was definitely the best part of the module, with some epic fights.

All in all another excellent Realms module, but more varied in quality and mood than the others I've played so far.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 12:29:05 AM by PetrusOctavianus »