The Gates of Hell Open: Solium Infernum Out

By Kieron Gillen on November 26th, 2009 at 2:04 pm.

Well, there's hexes in the game, but I'm only showing art for the top bit. Sue me! No, don't. We have no money.

An lo! there was a cry from the pits. The turn-based-devil-’em-up Solium Infernum is now available to purchase. If you don’t want to throw cash down blind – and you probably should at least feel it out – there’s a demo available for you to play, which you can get here. To get a feel for the game, here’s my first-impression notes, though Tom Chick’s ongoing diary will be splendid at introducing some of the concepts you should be thinking about. There’s a manual in the actual game directory. Also, while there’s apparently a default player-archdemon, but it doesn’t appear for some systems – mine included. Vic suggests a basic martial demon, in which case, I’d throw down Martial 2 and Charisma 3. Make him a Duke and have Wrath at your aim. More on the Cryptic site and I multiplayer diaries when we get a game cooking with hellfire.

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44 Comments »

  1. BooleanBob says:

    Awesome, awesome, a hundred times awesome. Downloading as we speak. Probably going to wait to see if some kind of discount pack emerges that bundles it with A. Empires before buying (the demo of which I’ve been playing for over a year).

  2. BooleanBob says:

    Did literally three seconds of investigating and lo! one exists.

  3. brog says:

    However, the servers seem to be taking a hammering (not sure if it’s because of huge demand or tiny supply) so downloading may take.. a while.

  4. Tyjenks says:

    I downloaded a demo version to my desktop today so I would have the manual there and the starting Avatar is now there.

    Also, the front page of Cryptic Comet’s site does have a bundle deal currently available for $53.95 (10% off) of our crazy, American dollars. I think that is about 3 Euros.

  5. Baboonanza says:

    I’ve been playing the demo for the last couple of hours. It’s fairly overwhelming, but I’m persevering.

    My main complaint so far is the same as my main complaint from AE: it’s created in Adobe director and this makes the whole thing seriously clunky. Vic is a great game designer, but boy could he use a good programmer!

  6. Hentzau says:

    Getting the game is proving to be a bit of a trial; first I got gouged for VAT and having the temerity to buy in pounds, and I’ve since had to abandon two separate downloads due to them hanging. I shall persevere.

  7. mesmertron says:

    Woo!

    Now if only I can justify both this and the THQ sale to my wife so soon after she let me get the Dragon Age collector’s edition…

  8. Hermes says:

    There is a patch available at http://siupdate.s3.amazonaws.com/SIUpdate1_01a.exe which fixes that the default archdemon is missing and one other bug.

    There is also bundle for AE and SI too(53.95$)

    Cheers!

  9. wiper says:

    Oh, how I do hate sites which add VAT on at the last minute (I should have remembered it as being the same with AE, actually). Well, that’s turned it from the impulse purchase it would have been to a long-term test of the demo.

    Which makes it exactly the same as AE, actually. Just remains to be seen whether I’m as taken with this as I was with that.

    I do wonder how much more of an audience this might find if it were released at a slightly lower price-point, though.

    • Taillefer says:

      Well, I wish he’d lower the prices, at least. For me, these are games I class as distractions rather than something to dedicate serious playing time to. Even though I caved in anyway with AE, I think it may be out of the distraction budget. And I had less to play back then.

    • brog says:

      And yet people will pay twice that for some generic FPS.

    • wiper says:

      I think you’ll find the correct words would be /some/ people. I can’t remember the last time I paid full-price for an FPS.

      *thinks*

      It was probably Halo, actually, back when the Xbox was released.

    • brog says:

      The “some” was implied. What did you think i meant, “all”?

      I don’t think I’ve ever bought an FPS myself. This is partially because I’m from New Zealand, where games arbitrarily cost half again as much, but even at US prices they’re expensive. But I find it really odd when people complain about the (much lower) prices of indie games. This is a niche game, guys! He wouldn’t make a living from it charging ten bucks a copy! Sure, he might sell a few more copies, but not three times as many.

    • wiper says:

      Well, I’d be happy with him selling at twenty bucks, but unfortunately he’s asking for €25 – or $38, give or take. I was willing to buy it at the pre-tax €20 (which is pretty much my upper limit for indie games generally), but the extra five just took it out of impulse purchase range. Especially as, like AE before it, it lacks a long-term single-player mode.

      I’ll probably end up getting it (assuming the demo clicks, at least), but not until pay day at the least.

    • Taillefer says:

      I can also buy a generic FPS for half the price, but that’s not really the point. Nobody was complaining, merely suggesting a lower price could appeal to more people and be mutually beneficial. It’s not an essential item, so it doesn’t affect me if I don’t buy it, but it does affect the dev.

      If this is the price he’s worked out he can make a living from, that’s fine, I’ll just have to do without it. I know it’s not a game I’ll play that often. But if I was interested in the multiplayer, I’d certainly be placing more value on it.

    • Alastayr says:

      Wiper, that pretty much does it for me, too. Especially since some of those stores just attach the highest VAT they could find without checking the actual country you’re buying from.

      And seriously, I thought it was a joke when someone said it’s done in Adobe Director. But I just got a Director Script Error and the game CTD’ed without further comment. Great.

  10. Antsy says:

    Downloaded and installed this in the middle of the night. Of course half asleep is entirely the wrong time to attempt a first game and, right enough, I didn’t get past the menu. First impressions today though are much the same as my initial thoughts on AE, “Eh…..what….um…..how……huh?”. Pretty sure the penny will once again drop though :)

  11. Wilson says:

    I think it’s mean of Tom Chick to leave “two caveats you should know if you’re thinking of buying Solium Infernum” until the day after it releases. That said, based off the demo I’m interested in getting this. Quite possibly with Armageddon Empires.

    I’m finding the game fairly easy to understand (after 4 demo games), but the possible complexity due to all the stuff that could happen and how it interacts is quite impressive, and will take a long time to get my head round, I imagine.

    Would love to hear opinions from people who have played it more. Does it stay interesting after several full games for instance? Do the different map options provide big changes in how the game plays, or are they just to provide a bit of variation? Stuff like that.

  12. the affront says:

    Am I blind/stupid or doesn’t this work in windowed mode? If so, WTF?
    Doesn’t make sense at all, seeing as I get such attractive grey borders ingame because it doesn’t scale and this is the type of game that should really, really have windowed mode, in my opinion.

    • Wilson says:

      There is a specific .exe that runs the windowed version of the game. Are you using that?

    • JM says:

      Would you be offended if we suggested you were blind and stupid? :)

    • the affront says:

      Heh, apparently I _am_ blind/stupid. Well, good for the game.
      And no, I didn’t. Just looked in vain for an ingame option, tried alt+enter and the usual command line parameters and ctrl+f for “window” in the manual – absolutely didn’t expect a separate .exe, probably because I had never seen it done like that before.

    • malkav11 says:

      Because of the way he’s implementing his games (in Director, which is not designed at all for the purpose), fixed resolution and awkward windowed mode are unfortunately unavoidable.

  13. archonsod says:

    I suspect it’s going to be similar to AE going on what I’ve played thus far (demo since last night, full game since this morning). Thanks to the random element in terms of the card draws and board layout you’ve always got a different game, and AE still entertains me today because it always manages to throw up an interesting situation or three, irrespective of how well you know the game.
    In the case of SI multiplayer is likely to extend it quite significantly too.

  14. Kester says:

    Baboonanza said:
    I’ve been playing the demo for the last couple of hours. It’s fairly overwhelming, but I’m persevering.

    My main complaint so far is the same as my main complaint from AE: it’s created in Adobe director and this makes the whole thing seriously clunky. Vic is a great game designer, but boy could he use a good programmer!

    Yeah, this. I played the demo a few times to figure out what was going on, and it seems a really interesting game. But, I came away with a feeling of frustration similar to that you get after trying to play a FPS on a graphics card that isn’t quite up to the task. You have to wrestle with the interface in order to play the actual game and never feel properly in control of what’s going on.

    My other gripe: the demo doesn’t really last long enough to get a good feel for how the game actually plays; you seem to get cut off just as you’ve got past setting up enough of an initial position to actually get into the meat of the politics. (Also disappointed that in 3 plays, not once did any AI try to interact with me politically, seeing as that’s supposed to be the core of the game. Also also, everything is grey. Is there more variety in the landscapes in the full game?)

    I’ll probably wait to see how much this takes off: as with Blood Bowl, reliable human opposition makes it a lot more tempting of a buy, even if it is only PBeM.

  15. Tei says:

    This dude should move to something better than director, or buy some usability book, or something. The game interface is really hard to gues, this make the game extra hard to learn, since is not a simple game.
    I managed to understand the older one, but this is ‘closed’ to me.

  16. adobelol says:

    http://www.tacticularcancer.com/content.php?id=45

    Any likelihood of moving away from Director for future projects due to limitations in the software?

    Maybe after I finish up these first couple of games. I’d like to be successful enough that I could afford to take the time to retrain in something more powerful. At this point I don’t think I could start from scratch. I’ve built up a lot of design patterns that should really acclerate my productivity. I’d like to get the time down between releases to less than 18 months consistently.

  17. Latro says:

    Bought it.

    Cant download it, BTMicro servers seems to have been swamped by unexpected hordes of Satanists Strategists.

    Cant wait to test it.

    The manual, which I could download, points out to it being a game of subtlety, deceit, and multiple levels of aggression – hell I’m reading the part about sending an emmisary and I’m just thinking “how convenient, insult them with a low bribe, they humilliate your emissary, bingo, casus belli”…

  18. Alexander Norris says:

    Oh god.

    I just tried playing a game and it felt like running into a brick wall. I know people will scold me for asking to be treated like a child, but I really wish there were some sort of tutorial in the demo to explain what does what to whom in what order.

    I’m going to uninstall it so I can feel better about myself, see if I can read up on how the hell I’m, supposed to play this, then reinstall the demo and try again.

    • Wilson says:

      Nah, I know what you mean. A first time player’s guide would be pretty nice, just to suggest some stuff to do on your first turns, lead you through the different actions and things. It is intimidating. I’ve been lucky it seems in that I haven’t found it too hard to come to terms with for the most part (after playing a few games and skimming the manual), but it is the kind of game that would benefit substantially from some tutorial style introduction.

    • Hypocee says:

      Which Bill Harris (dubiousquality.blogspot.com) did for AE and has announced that he intends to do for SI. I know I for one won’t blame you if you choose to wait.

  19. whalleywhat says:

    How long until Bill Harris kindly explains how to play this?

  20. Psychopomp says:

    Why are wargames so bad about having no/terrible tutorials? I love’m to death, but those first few hours with them are a headache.

  21. Lugribossk says:

    I put up a short picture tutorial here that hopefully shows how the start of the game works.

  22. Quirk says:

    It takes a bit of manual-wrestling to get to grips with this.

    A few things I’ve found from playing the demo:
    When you roll up a character, invest in Charisma. Seriously. 0 Charisma is barely playable – you have hardly any resources to do anything with. 3 Charisma as Kieron suggests will get plenty of resources rolling through the doors and won’t use up all your points.

    When you start out in the big bad hellplane, you’ll want to grab an unattached Place of Power as soon as you can and start racking up Prestige Points. Places of Power, like other units, have three “fight” values – Ranged, Melee, Infernal. The way combat works is that first the ranged scores are compared, and the unit with the higher score damages the weaker unit by the difference, then the melee, then the infernal and then it goes to a second round. If you’ve opted for a Prince of Hell or similar your starting unit may be good enough to take out your local Place of Power by itself.

    If your unit *isn’t* good enough to compete, you can still block other people from getting it by marking off territory round it so they can’t get to it. For your first few turns, whether you can take the nearest Place of Power out or not, you’ll be wanting to Demand Tribute and move your unit.

    Then, save up, go to the Bazaar, and buy a Praetor or artifact which boasts something like “Melee +4″ or “Ranged +3″. If you look at your orders menu, it will let you manage your newly acquired Praetor or artifact on the next turn, and you can equip your default unit with it. This will hopefully make it tough enough to wreck Places of Power with impunity. Another option is to buy another unit and have it stand in the next hex when you attack; you’ll get half of its stats as “support” boosting your unit.

    So, having established a toe-hold, what next? Well, you can move your nastiest unit up to a weaker neighbour’s border and start harassing him. If he grins and takes it, you get tribute or Prestige. If he bristles, war’s on and you get to wreck his stuff. You can do this either by putting up a Praetor champion to fight in single combat or by moving your troops into his territory; as long as they still border your territory at end of turn, you capture his land.

    As long as you keep winning, Prestige keeps counting up.

    Other things:
    Every so often, if you have any skill in Prophecy (usually from points in Intellect), you may get an Event card. These have wide game-changing effects, and you can keep one in reserve until you either get a new card to replace it or decide to use an action and play it.
    Gaining attribute points – takes an action as well, and is fairly cheap in resources for early levels.
    Rituals:
    Rituals have a range of handy effects; mostly they let you convert resources into various things such as information on enemies, damage to enemy units, fog of war over your territory, etc. These also take an action to use.

    • puked says:

      Listen to this guy here. Listen to him but good.

      Also to those put off by the learning curve, this game really isn’t that hard to figure out as you go along aside from a few things like unit and praetor combat. And this is coming from a guy who’s never been able to summon up enough autism to make it through a game of Dominions 3.

  23. MWoody says:

    Three major problems with what could have been a fantastic game, and still might be with some patching:

    1) The resource cards. This is just silly. I played a charisma-heavy character my first time out, raising Diabolism to 7 plus some perk increases. That meant that at some points, I was looking through as many as 80+ cards to find the eight I needed, all in a tiny rectangle in a 1024×768 window. Or worse yet, the more-than-eight I needed, which meant I had to spend multiple turns combining smaller cards into bigger ones to cast the spell. Not to mention the headaches with sorting and tracking 20+ manuscript cards. It’s an entirely unenjoyable bit of micromanagement, and the game would be infinitely better if they were just numbers.

    2) The enemy AI is extremely passive, from what I’ve seen so far. In my first full-length game, after turn 20 or so, the enemy literally just sat there. They completely turned off, even leaving some points of power untaken (but surrounded and therefore inaccessible – they ARE clever about that). Now, I lost, so for at least one opponent, I guess I can’t be too angry. But for the other two – it reminds me of in college, when someone was losing really bad right off the bat, sometimes they’d be dicks and just go watch TV instead of playing to conclusion. The one who won was simply the AI that was high enough starting level to take his nearby points immediately. I never once had any of them initiate any military or diplomatic actions, and with “sloth” as my goal, I couldn’t, either.

    3) The price is wrong. $20 max; at $15 I’d even recommend it before he fixes #1 and #2.

    I liked AE, and purchased this one thinking he was learning. Instead, it seems some of the limitations of his design and the director platform are here amplified. I can relate, man – I wrote a roguelike in Flash once – but at some point you just have to sigh, wave your lovingly-crafted code goodbye, and start over with a real language.

  24. Psychopomp says:

    Man, the people who think the price is off are about to be dumbfounded

    http://www.shrapnelgames.com/Illwinter/DOM3/DOM3_page.html

    • JimmyJames says:

      Holy crap. The “monthly special”… did it always cost that much? I bought it a long time ago and genuinely can’t remember.

      That being said, I’ve been pleased with Dom3, and liked AE. Still, Arkham Asylum for $25. Couldn’t pass it up. Maybe some other time, SI!

    • Psychopomp says:

      Aye, it launched 60 something bucks. Still, it’s one of my happiest purchases ever, despite the ridiculous pricepoint. The semi-regular patches that add new races and whatnot helped, in addition the ridiculous amount of variation you got with the three different ages. The 300 page manual probably took up most of the pricepoint, now that I think about it. That had to be expensive to print.

      Really please with Solium so far, as well.

  25. Choca says:

    Gah, so many games, so little time.

  26. Quirk says:

    >after turn 20 or so, the enemy literally just sat there

    That’s hilarious – the AI functions only until the demo would run out? :)

  27. Torgen says:

    I was coming back to see if anyone had seen the AI do anything interesting at all in the demo. Out of every three or four demo games, I may have an AI insult me or play more than one or two event cards it seems.

    It does seem that turn 20 is right at the cusp of where you could start doing some interesting things, every time. I think even a small expansion of the limit to 25 turns would do more to sell the game. Of course, I’m notoriously slow at getting my armies/economy up to speed in TBS/RTSs, so it may just be me. :) I find myself saying “Oh, come ON! Gimme just TWO more turns to take that bastard out!)

  28. juri says:

    UI Improvement

    Right click on the tribute pad when the tribute tab is selected now auto sorts the tribute cards according to the Tom Chick method.

    (from 1.3 patch notes)