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Review by: Pete Hines
Published: August 5, 1997
When we last left our hero, he had just saved his beloved Ecstatica from the hands of evil. Now, upon returning home, he finds that all is not well in his castle. In Ecstatica 2, your task is to lead our hero through the horde of monsters who have taken over the castle and determine the cause of this disaster. As it turns out, a powerful archmage has seized control, and you must defeat his four servants (warlock, sorceress, wizard, and necromancer) before you can face him. In addition, a powerful artifact, the Eldersign, has been broken into seven pieces and scattered throughout the castle. You must find the pieces and reassemble them in order to defeat this most powerful adversary.
Ecstatica 2 features a much larger playing area — 10 times the size of Ecstatica. Literally hundreds of rooms await exploration as you seek out pieces of the Eldersign and eliminate numerous foes. One of the things that makes this game interesting are the numerous camera angles from which you view your character and his surroundings. Within any room or space, the angle and scope of your view may change several times. One minute, you view the scene from hundreds of feet overhead, and the next minute you are right there next to your character.
Ecstatica 2 is truly nonlinear. In fact, the game has very little structure to it, which is by design. Certain areas of the castle are off limits until you accomplish a certain number of tasks. The order in which you accomplish those tasks is completely random. The game has a feature that tracks how much of the game you have explored as a percentage. You can finish the game without being at 100 percent, as many areas do not have to be explored in order to win. The one walkthrough I have seen for the game allows you to finish the game without seeing a lot of the castle. A priestess will appear in various places throughout the game and will help guide your efforts. Listen to her advice and counsel closely; your life depends on it.
The game is set up simply, so that players can focus on adventuring and not worry so much about distracting inventories and the like. The main screen contains some simple information, like what kind of weapon you have for combat and the status of your life energy. Life energy measures your health and drops with any kind of attack or damage. It can be increased with special potions found along the way, which heal your character. These potions can be found in various pieces of furniture along the way, and can also be found as a random reward for killing a creature. Killing creatures can also result in obtaining other items, such as scrolls or keys.
Treasure, in the form of gold, jewels, and similar items, can also help cure your character. After amassing the equivalent of 30,000 gold pieces, you can completely replenish your life energy with the touch of a key. The more treasure you accumulate, the better able you will be able to heal yourself in tough battles against powerful foes. In addition to treasure and the Eldersign pieces, there are eight items that must be found before you can complete the game. At different points in the game, you can get help from the priestess as to where these items can be found.
The icon page contains the rest of the information you will need. It includes an inventory of which Eldersign and special items you have obtained, the strength of your weapons, how much magic energy you have, the number of kills you have made, the percentage of the world you have discovered, and more. As the game wears on, the information in the icon page becomes more important and increasingly valuable, especially before you start a particularly tough battle.
The main focus of this game is on fighting. Good combat skills are essential for survival. You start off with only your hands and feet as weapons, but swords, armor, and magical items can be picked up and used along the way. More than 60 types of creatures await you throughout the castle. Movement in combat is fairly straightforward. All movement in the game is managed through the keyboard. Through the use of a few keys, you control every action your character can perform. In general, the four directional keys manage movement, and combat moves are made by pressing one or more keys in addition to using these four keys. Twelve pages of the manual discuss the many different combination of moves available, based on what types of weapons and abilities your character has at any given moment.
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