|Genre: Adventure & RPG|
|Min OS X: 10.3 CPU: G4 @ 1800 MHz RAM: 256 MB|
Eschalon: Book I (EB1) is the first episode in a planned fantasy role playing trilogy from Basilisk Games. The turn-based adventure draws inspiration from classics in the genre and enthusiastically embraces the term "old school." Players set forth as a low level character armed only with some basic equipment and a cryptic letter. As they battle and quest their way across the often hostile land of Thaermore they will grow in strength of arms and magic before eventually having to decide the fate of a land under siege.
EB1 begins in standard RPG fashion with the creation of a character. After choosing a name players then customize their character by selecting one of five character classes, picking an origin, deciding upon an axiom, allotting skill points from a pool of 20, and rolling up numbers for each of the game's eight character attributes. The choice of class does not offer restrictions as in other titles. Each class provides a single skill such as the Swords skill for Fighters and the Elemental skill for Mages. A character's origin includes some flavor text and bonuses to statistics, while axioms determine a character's philosophy and associated advantages and disadvantages. A Virtuous character, for example, gains the use of the Bless spell but is more susceptible to curses.
The eight character attributes in EB1 are determined through a combination of random rolls and assignment of 15 points to stats of the player's choice. For those with fond memories of hours spent hoping the next click would offer up the perfect character, EB1 will deliver some old school nostalgia. Players who find random rolling tedious should be able to get decent character stats in only a few clicks.
The meat of character design, and the element which will have the most dramatic impact on a player's experience in the game, is in the choice of skills. EB1 includes a wide range of potential options including weapon proficiencies, magical abilities, thievery, and unique skills such as cartography and survival. Although it is entirely possible to follow traditional archetypes most players will be better served by creating a well rounded character, particularly since EB1 is not a party based game and offers no companion Non Player Characters (NPCs) with complimentary skill sets. Stat boosting and light related spells, for example, can be extremely useful even to a character focused on weapons and armor.
EB1's interface is uncluttered and functional. Icons are readily identifiable and unique enough to prevent confusion. For those seeking to streamline the experience the main screen includes several quick slots in the lower right for frequently used items such as potions. A text read out at the bottom of the action window provides both story text and information about the results of combat or other actions.
Since EB1 is turn-based, time in the game world is essentially frozen until the player takes an action. Once the player makes a move the rest of the world then gets a chance to move. Unlike many of the RPGs which inspired EB1 the game does not require a player to wait while each NPC or enemy takes a turn, instead allowing other creatures in the world to take their turns simultaneously.