Release Date (Windows): December 15, 2001
Release Date (Mac OS): n/a
CrossOver Profile: Click Here
WineHQ AppDB entry: Click Here
IMG Review: n/a
Test Platform: MacBook Air (Late-2010; GeForce 320M, 10.10, CX 14)
Somedays, it really just doesn't pay to get out of bed. One moment, you're one of the most powerful wizards for the King, tasked with trapping a whole lot of people (criminals, actually) within a powerful magical shield (because powerful magic is presumably cheaper and cooler than just building a great big wall). The next moment, you find yourself trapped within that very same shield, and you're desperate to find a way out. Meanwhile, right outside, there's a massive army of orcs threatening to topple the Kingdom. What about the whole lot of people you've trapped in with you? Well, let's just say that now, the lunatics are the ones running the asylum.
Of course, there is one last hope that you've got: some random ordinary joe who probably got charged for the heinous crime of leaving some specs of brown on the inside of the royal toilet bowl (but then again, these days, they'll brand you a criminal if you're caught jaywalking or chewing gum, and Heaven help you if you're caught doing both). All he has to do is deliver a letter – simple, right? What could possibly go wrong?
Thus is the stage set, for one of the more memorable and interesting RPGs of its day. This game was released at a time where RPGs and RPG-influenced games had been flourishing, with titles like Baldur's Gate 2, Deus Ex, Icewind Dale, and Arcanum being brought into the world (among many others). With a wealth of such games out on the market, it was a period where gamers saw developers do interesting things with the genre. Gothic, from German developer Piranha Bytes (who would later go onto produce the Risen series), was no exception.
SPRECHEN ZIE DEUTSCH?
Gothic immediately was a divisive game for its peculiar qualities. While reviewers praised its interesting and engaging story -- placing you in the midst of a struggle for power between rival factions of prisoners -- the game also drew the ire of reviewers and gamers alike, for its steep learning curve, and arguably sub-optimal control scheme. Despite those shortcomings, Gothic presents the player with a massive open world set out in front of him. With a healthy emphasis on exploration, the game doesn't hold back in giving the player a huge range of things to see and do (and of course, kill). That huge range of things actually looked quite nice compared to other RPGs of its day, though arguably Gothic's graphics haven’t aged very well.
Within Gothic’s world, there's actually a surprisingly large amount of actual "role-playing" that you have to do in addition to the combat, as you converse with people in the world to gather information and figure out what you have to do (and potentially, who you would have to side with in order to do it). However, talking to NPCs quickly exposes dialogue and voice acting that is just as clunky and awkward as its control scheme. The writing itself is quite serviceable for a game originally released in German, but it's delivered with laughably bad and painfully flat voice acting.