Getting Kobold: Arcania: Gothic 4 E3 Trailer

By Kieron Gillen on June 18th, 2010 at 10:10 am.

One day a serial killer is going to be found, and when asked why he did it, he'll say 'I did it to get the XP. They were full of XP'.

So, Gothic 4 trailer, then? I’m ten seconds into this before the voice-over mentions – without any visible trace of irony – “an island under attack by an ancient evil”. I can imagine the debate in the Spellbound office – “Isn’t this completely clichéd nonsense?” “No – you see, this is an island under attack from an ancient evil. Not a land, country, world, etc, etc. We’re actually the new Planescape Torment we’re being that original” “Wait… how big is this island? Because a lot of islands are tiny. Are we talking Australia or are we talking the Isle of Man? Some Islands would be threatened by the average rowdy stag-do.” “Stop worrying! We’re golden! And we’re called ArcaniA! That’s some original typography right there, man.”

Though – er – all that would be in German.

Alec informs me that Islands have always been the Gothic games’ thing, but I’m well past caring. Toodles!

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109 Comments »

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  1. Reiver says:

    It may be cliched but setting these style of games on islands works well imo. It gives a natural limit to population and playing area whereas moving to a mainland like in Oblivion and Gothic 3 creates an inconsistency where you’re being told that this is the capital of a great empire and there’s just 20 people running around. For me the original gothic is the gold standard of settings for open world games. It just feels right and believable rather than limited by technology.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It’s less the island, and more “AN ANCIENT EVIL!”.

      KG

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      It’s a lady saying it!

    • bob_d says:

      @Kieron Gillen:
      “UNSPEAKABLE EVIL!!” don’t you mean?
      It’s easy to take the piss (oh, so so easy). To be fair though, I don’t think that’s necessarily the game developer being un-inventive, but it’s intended as a crutch for the player. Some of my game developing colleagues have argued that genre games like this one need that sort of clear, unambiguous (and clichéd) threat or players risk getting lost. Granted, these colleagues worked on certain mass-appeal fantasy games that rhyme with “miablo,” and have had it beaten into their heads that you don’t mess with a winning formula, but I can see their point even if I don’t agree. The player always knows what they’re working towards, always knows the essential plot; sure it’s clichéd, but cliché actually has an important role in game design – it’s a shorthand way of conveying information to the player. “Planescape” remains one of my favorite games, but I don’t believe it sold all that well (certainly the sales were not corresponding to the quality of the game). Sad to say, being familiar sells more games than being smart and original.

  2. Name says:

    Does it seem like the character is skipping along at 0:25 to anyone else?

  3. Schizoslayer says:

    Dark trailer is dark.

    Is this an RPG with a story or just a mindless hack n slash? I’m not bothered which (doubt I’ll buy it either way) but if it’s an RPG then it doesn’t do a very good job of selling it’s story to me.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      You might have heard of a franchise called “Gothic”. If not, look it up.
      Could not be easier to find out whether it’s a hack’n’slash or not.

    • Schizoslayer says:

      I’m criticizing the trailer for not putting that information across not complaining that it’s impossible to find out.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      I’m sorry for misreading you, and you’re right about that. The trailer is totally generic, but I guess trailers where the PC beats up monsters are all the rage now (I’m looking at you, Two Worlds Two!).

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Is that really a neckbeard?

  4. DuckSauce says:

    Welcome… to the world of slow man in heavy armor trudging towards building.
    Can he possibly “run” any slower?

    Doesn’t too much peak my interest, looks ok I guess, but way too slow…

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    A PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! RPG sounds amazing to me right now.

    KG

  6. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    Since the developer has made merely average games in the past, and since the publisher has a record of pushing out games that suck and clearly need more development time, I predict that this game will be average at best and will probably be bad.

    Also I predict that this game will get great reviews scores in Germany anyway, and it will sell great in Germany. Then the German internets will be aflame again with disappointed people.

    • alseT says:

      Firstly this isn’t made by the Gothic people. Those guys made Risen after they lost the IP, so this will probably be rubbish. And the Gothics being average? u mad bro.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      TBH, the second paragraph is totally true when talking about Gothic 3. What an unplayable sucker that was, and the review scores were simply laughable.
      I stopped reading print magazines because of that.

    • alseT says:

      But what a different experience G3 is right now after all the fan patches. I still think the game turned out like that because Pirahna Bytes bit (heh) more than they could chew. We just need Wulf to come in here and sing its praises some more in his eloquent way.

    • Alphabet says:

      I actually really liked vanilla Gothic 3…..it took me a few hours to get out of the initial village because I had never played a previous Gothic and was inept at the combat, but I loved it after that. I had the same experience as I had with Mass Effect actually – played for an hour the day it came out and gave up in disgust, loaded it months later in desperate boredom, and loved it.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      In vanilla G3, wild boars were the meanest enemies. in the whole game.
      In Germany, this has become a running gag, not only amongst my friends, but Arcania also had so suffer the “wild boar test”, as much as Risen.
      Admittedly, G3 is better with fan patches, but I still prefer the first two instalments.

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      Sagan says:

      @alseT:

      I know that the game is not developed by Piranha Bytes, and I meant Spellbound when I said that the developer has made merely average games. Spellbound has made such gems as Helldorado, Desperados 2 and Chicago 1930. (All of which, coincidentally, got much higher review scores in Germany)

    • Ozzie says:

      The first Desperados was pretty good, though. And I heard Robin Hood wasn’t bad either. Admittedly, those games aren’t the most recent of Spellbound, but I think they prove they are capable of more than just mediocrity. At least if the same people from way back then still work there…

    • Vague-rant says:

      Wait, this is the same guys who did Robin Hood? Wow. Nostalgic memories of that game spring to mind. It really was very awesome.

  7. Yargh says:

    I vote that Ancient Evils henceforth be replaced by Newly Discovered Evils, all to the gentle strains of ‘This is the new shit’

    • Chad Warden says:

      I laughed out loud !

      I almost forgot EA’s advertising escapade

  8. Spacegirl says:

    where are the games with the Somewhat Old Evils? It’s always Ancient Evils or brand-new-science-gone-wrong shit…

    Why can’t we have a game with an evil that’s been around a little bit, but hasn’t yet gotten all old and stuck up like your run of the mill Ancient Type?

    Like an evil from the 1600’s….

    • BeamSplashX says:

      How about a staggered evil that has had mild successes across several decades and never really went away?

      “They’re back! After all this time, they’ve returned for revenge!”
      “Oh, I wouldn’t say that… though I heard they got the original lineup back together.”
      “Interesting. I think I still have their Dragon General’s autograph.”

  9. Rosti says:

    Nothing wrong with the odd cliché – there’s a reason why my D&D crew enjoy their excursions in the United States of Generica, after all.

  10. CMaster says:

    It looks just like Risen!

  11. SirWhat says:

    this is an outrage! to read comments about supposed “average, slow running or mindless hacknslash”.

    well, before i played gothic2 till the end, i was thinking like them too. lets just say that gothic to rpg is like the stalker series to fps. immersion is the word here.

    • qrter says:

      I don’t know.. Gothic 2 seemed very light on the role-playing, and overly heavy on the grinding, to me.

  12. neolith says:

    This isn’t Gothic. It’s a different game underneath…

  13. CMaster says:

    Ever play “Burden of 40 proof” for Deus Ex? Thats the sort of thing you are asking for I think, and it’s pretty interesting, if not always fun (especially the broken line-walking challenege)

  14. Alphabet says:

    This actually looks….really good!

  15. Andreas says:

    I really hope the in game writing is better than the trailer writing

  16. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    Did Risen turn out any good? I tried to download the demo for that a few months ago, but couldn’t get it working.

    This looks pretty generic. Of course, you can’t really tell from trailers and I’ve never played a Gothic game, so don’t really know what to expect. Still, nothing very interesting shown here.

    • snv says:

      Risen is great.

    • Tei says:

      Risen is a very good intro to the Gothic type of games. If you don’t do gothic games,
      If you do Gothic games, then Risen is a very good intro for other people, and a morning snack for you.

    • Warduke says:

      Never understood why Risen was available on Steam briefly then disappeared. I took that as a bad sign on the game.

  17. tomsoul.grind@gmail.com says:

    Someone should do an RPG where you are an evil guy in a nice happy evil land when an ANCIENT GOOD returns, and you have to try and stop it making the whole land spangly and light.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Dungeon Master? Overlord? America’s Army?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Actually, starting a world where Evil is already victorious and trying to bring it down would be a fairly obvious riff of the trad D&D plot.

      KG

    • Stick says:

      Heh. I worked on a setting like that for a Neverwinter Nights campaign back when. Never got off the ground, mainly because I’m… better at conceptualizing than at slaving away with a toolset. *cough* Ok, “lazy”. But I’m still proud of the tagline:

      “Even the Dread Lords get lucky sometimes.”

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Totally room for “Terrorists or Freedom Fighters!” as a theme.

      KG

  18. sana says:

    The Gothic franchise never fails to put their characters in great-looking, chunky armour, which is rather strange considering there’s is a different developer at work here. Did the Gothic series design documents contain the magic words “good-looking armour”?

  19. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    >“an island under attack by an ancient evil”

    “Your hero is the islands only hope – IF he/she can regain their memories!”

  20. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    Despite the enthusiasm for the Gothic games from their fans, I’ve never been able to work out the enthusiasm enough to even try them. They just raise a grand meh within me. For some reason they always strike me as an enrichment of all the things I didn’t like about Oblivion, and when people stand up and argue that they aren’t, they only end up making them sound more Oblivion than Oblivion. My short playing around with the Risen demo also didn’t help, as the whole thing felt clunky and cumbersome.

    Now before anyone jumps on me for judging an entire series based on loosely formed conceptions and a bit of playing of a demo, I’ll clarify that I’m not trying to judge the games per se, but to explain why I’ve never been able to work up the enthusiasm for them. I might indeed find that when I sat down with them properly, I’d join with people singing their praises. (Alternatively, I might find I still feel the same. Which wouldn’t mean they were bad games per se, just not ones which catered for what I’m looking for.) Yeah, I’m an AWWIM, ambiguous wishy-washy internet man!

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      AndrewC says:

      I like it because it feels like a more grounded world than the Oblivions of this world – not grim n gritty, but a bit more honestly working class.

      But if it hasn’t grabbed you, you aren’t missing out on the secret best thing ever or nothing. They’re just…nice. I really like them.

    • Philip L says:

      One thing I love about the Gothic games is it contains characters. “What is this mad man going on about!?” I hear you say, “Oblivion has tons of characters!”. Yes, indeed it does, very observant of you. But, how many can you name?

      One thing I love about Gothic is how there aren’t tons upon tons of useless characters, like in Oblivion, most of the NPCs have their place and are pretty memorable. Oblivion’s are mostly the same character saying the same thing when spoken to, or just there to add a little quest to your log. I can probably name over 90% of the named characters in Khorinis in Gothic 2, but could name hardly any in Oblivion’s Imperial City. And that is just one of many reasons I love Gothic 1/2. (I also love Oblivion too!).

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      AndrewC says:

      Yes, I particularly like Gruff Man #3, though not as much as Surly Man #2.

  21. Ragabhava says:

    An evil is either ancient or it has been created eons ago, wich is even more ancient. The only other alternatives are Nazis, Communists and – as the latest installment of the recent evil – terrorists. Thats it buddy!

    • snv says:

      Nationalism, and its small brother Patriotism are rather aged too

  22. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    The narrator seems to be channeling Cate Blanchett Lord of the Rings stylee. Apart from that, the trailer doesn’t really tell us much that we wouldn’t already know from a Gothic game (why is he running in slow-mo though?)

    I must pick up Risen at some point; I quite liked the demo. Bought Gothic 2 on GOG a while back but got annoyed at the frequent crashing. As for G3, the less said about my experiences of the demo, the better.

    P.

  23. Jamesworkshop says:

    I always liked Gothic 2 I consider it one of my favourite games, the Mages, paladins and mercenaries faction divide was always a good setup since you can only really join one whereas Gothic 3 you could basically do anything you wanted both combat and magic.
    I enjoyed the fact that people actually moved around and seemed to have lives of their own which even Fallout 3/Oblivion and dragon age (to be fair DA:O isn’t really an action RPG) didn’t really do.

    Damm it I might have to play Gothic 2 again now

    Plus its so old that it runs like lightning on todays machines.

    • Premium User Badge

      oceanclub says:

      To be fair, I thought Oblivion did the living-NPCs well (too well, in some cases, as you had to trek miles to find them if they were merchants). It makes the stock-still NPCs in Bioware games look glaringly artificial these days.

      P.

    • Philip L says:

      I totally agree. The setup of the three separate, unique factions worked really well. I was disappointed in Risen when it suggests you three (or four?) different options at one point, but really there are only two choices.

      On my first run through I think I joined the mages as soon as possible and rushed to chapter 2. Now, after a few runs, I’m experienced enough to do as much as possible before going to chapter 2, as it makes things much smoother. I love the amount of different ways you can go through the game, and bits you can explore at your will at whatever level you wish. Definitely one of the best RPGs of all time.

  24. Al3xand3r says:

    The engine has been improved a lot and looks pretty solid now, in terms of gameplay as well going by the way the character and enemies move here. Hopefully the same is true for the storyline and quest structure. I didn’t think I’d say this but I look forward to this. It seems better than Risen, which I liked, but after a point felt half finished at best (and what a terribad ending session), showing it wasn’t really (or at least not only) JoWood’s fault that Piranha Bytes didn’t deliver with Gothic 3.

  25. Malagate says:

    Is it just me, or does that insignia on the goblin’s shoulder pad a horned skull with glasses? And maybe a flying moustache?

    Have yet to watch the trailer (blocked video media at work, booo!) but it sounds neat so far, although I’ve never really gotten into any gothic games. Played a bit of two and tried the Risen demo, but none of it really sticked.

  26. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I love to be a pedant, Australia’s not an island.

    • snv says:

      Same way pluto is not a planet. Matter of definition

    • Philip L says:

      n.
      (Abbr. Isl. or Is. or I.) A land mass entirely surrounded by water.

      How is Australia not an island again?

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      Sagan says:

      Everything would be an island if Australia was an island. All landmasses are surrounded by water.

    • Philip L says:

      Not quite true. Germany isn’t completely surrounded by water, for example, for it has other countries next to it.

    • The Telemetrics of Robert Francis Bailey says:

      Australia is an island – england is an island – america is not (bordered by mexico & canada) Ireland is not (North & the republic) etc

  27. Zyrxil says:

    Nitpick:
    Rock Golems/Elementals do not roar gdamnit! Roaring is what animals do to warn other animals off. Golems magically created solely for combat have absolutely no reason to do so. Gdamn fantasy writers and their natural divorce from logic.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      Not that I don’t see your point, but doesn’t frightening one’s opponent seem like a valid combat tactic?

    • Zyrxil says:

      No, roars are not used by animals to frighten, just to get the other party to back off so they can both avoid an necessary fight. This sentiment does not apply to golems (magic robots), which have no sense of self preservation or any emotions such as rage/fear.

    • Philip L says:

      Men roar when charging in to battle, is that not to frighten? Also: could this ‘magic’ not be used to give golems a sense of self-preservation, or simply to give them the ability to roar? You claim animals don’t roar to frighten… fine, a magically created golem is not an animal, so surely that does not apply?

    • Zyrxil says:

      Men roar to psych themselves up. Magic Robots do not have emotions and thus do not. There’s also no real need to create robots with emotions that can psych themselves up since artificial creations are capable of fighting at 100% without morale.

      Sure you could Wizard up some far-fetched explanation for why golems would need to roar, but the simplest explanation is that the monster designer is stupid and just thought everything should roar.

    • Urthman says:

      If I made a Golem, it would totally roar to scare things away, because I don’t want the golem to have it’s paint chipped and finish unnecessarily scratched by smashing stupid adventurers who should have had the sense to run away.

    • Zyrxil says:

      All adventurers know a golem is made to smash. The roar is unnecessary. It’s like if you put a airhorn on a Minigun to show you should get out of its way.

    • Urthman says:

      Dude. My minigun totally has an airhorn on it.

      Because nobody says, “Hey! Quit blowing that airhorn!” to a guy who’s carrying a minigun.

      HOOOOOOOOONK!

  28. Ergates says:

    Isn’t that kind of Fallout3? World in ruins, you have to work towards improving it?

    • Ergates says:

      My previous post was in response to: Someone should do an RPG where you are an evil guy in a nice happy evil land when an ANCIENT GOOD returns, and you have to try and stop it making the whole land spangly and light.

      Damn reply system! (this probably won’t work as a reply either…)

  29. dhex says:

    it’d be fun to play an rpg where the ANCIENT EVIL is actually a hoax. a magical false flag operation, if you will.

    • Zyrxil says:

      Grandia 2 was sort of like that. I quite enjoyed it, even if the characters were bad anime character archetypes.

  30. Bursar says:

    Why are these worlds never threatened by an adolescent evil? Or possibly a ‘slightly passed it’s prime’ evil?

  31. Kraszu says:

    1)Gothic has no level scaling, and great world design, many places are dangerous but you can survive there if you can avoid enemies or if you get a transformation scroll of strong beast. You must do a little planning in G2:Notr to get xp, you can just grind becouse there are respowns.
    2)Time based combat, some people call that clunky but that is like calling Prince of Persia clunky when you are swinging your sword then you can start to jump all over the place. Melee combat is one of the best you must find the correct time to attack, dodge some enemies, there is some variety not all enemy can be killed with the same tactic.
    3)You have to choose between factions that you want to join.

  32. Jamesworkshop says:

    I found Gothic 2 on steam with the Raven add on-might have to buy it for £9 because I never got to play with the expansion

  33. toro says:

    It looks nice, but it doesn’t have anything else. They messed up the proportions for mobs, probably because today simpletons could only equate danger with mob size whenever in Gothic games, even the smallest creatures were dangerous. By the way, the original games didn’t have zombies, but I guess there are a necessity when you aim for aforementioned simpletons.

  34. Serenegoose says:

    Do you have to play as the character from the trailer, or are they a generic placeholder and you can make your own character? I really find I can’t play RPGs any more unless they let me make my own character. The Witcher is just about the sole exception to this.

    Also, is the whole ‘ancient evil’ thing really so bad? I mean, yes, it’s cliched, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do interesting things within the confines of a trope shown to work well.

    Also also, I really do wonder why we don’t have more games where the bad guy has already won, and the whole point is to dismantle their conquests. Even worse, we almost never have bad guys who are right in their own way. Would it be so bad to have a little ambiguity as to who the real villain is? And not just at the end where he goes ‘look at my dead minions, who’s the real bad guy here?’ What about showing you all the innocent lives you destroy on your quest? I’m sick of knowing that I’m right – I want to be shown how my actions change the world for the worse, and how the ‘villain’ for all their flaws is at least trying to make the world better for most. A real Vetinari, you know?

    Bah.

    • Ozzie says:

      I don’t think you were ever able to create your own character in Gothic.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Ah. Well, that’s definitely a mark against it then. I’ve never played a game from the series before, but it does look intriguing.

    • Ninja Dodo says:

      One might argue that playing yourself is not really role-playing.

    • Serenegoose says:

      True, but I could hardly say I’m playing myself when I have the choice, not even a hyperidealised version of me – normally I prefer to play the sneaky skunk with a bow. I just like to have that choice, rather than have it made for me.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Serengoose

      I’m the same way about wanting to choose how to play my character. For what it’s worth, in the case of the earlier Gothic games, it’s my understanding that while the model is always the same you’re given an enormous amount of freedom to build the character however you like from a skills standpoint. That is to say, you very much can make that “sneaky skunk with a bow” you just mentioned in these games.

  35. Robin says:

    Oh for a second I thought that said “Arcanum”. I was almost exited for a second. I’d forgotten what that felt like.

    • Serenegoose says:

      A new arcanum would be so beautiful. I’m crying to think about it.

  36. Batolemaeus says:

    Risen is the better Gothic, to be honest.
    It’s one of the very few games that i actually bought shortly after launch and didn’t regret it immediately. I doubt that a new developer will be able to make the game feel right.

  37. Urthman says:

    “…with your courage and sword as your only companion.”

    The trailer voice-over sounds like it’s on total generic fantasy autopilot, but this statement is disappointing if true. I liked having companions in the earlier Gothic games, more so than when Oblivion gave you a companion.

  38. LintMan says:

    KG: “A PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! RPG sounds amazing to me right now”

    Careful what you wish for…
    Rohan

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    Lintman: As I think everyone’s aware, I’d probably be all over Rohan if I had time. BIKINI DEATH!

    KG

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    AndrewC says:

    Yes! DEATH TO ALL BIKINIS!

  41. Ragabhava says:

    nanana, nationalism and patriotism sell movies, games and soda pops. They also let the masses follow their overlords dictums in stupor right into the trenches. How could you call that evil – its brilliant! They do what you say and pay you for it !!

    • Ragabhava says:

      the above that was in response to :

      snv says:

      Nationalism, and its small brother Patriotism are rather aged too

  42. Freud says:

    Was I the only one that got the impression that this is basically Forrest Gump in a fantasy setting?

  43. DSX says:

    Eh Looks like oblivion with swords.. er.. I mean better graphics.

    The gothic series has always been like a 3rd rate RPG, horrible character mechanics, shoddy dialogue, and craptastic skill/inventory management – but very pretty to look at.

  44. Argenik says:

    Risen is a mediocre Gothic-wannabe, not the best effort from Piranha Bytes. Or was it their best effort? If yes, then it means that PB are pretty limited as a developer. I know it because I played all Gothics and Risen. The latter I only finished it once and never touched it again. It was short, uninspired, clunky, the characters are as ugly as hitting yourself in the thumb with a hammer, the ending was lame, the map is small (even in comparison with Gothic 1). I really hope that Spellbound will deliver a better game ArcaniA than PB did with Reeksen…I mean Risen.

  45. Digit says:

    Looks fab, totally getting it.

    I can’t get enough of their games, they had a small slip up with G3, but now what with Risen and this, we look back on track. Yeeha! :D

    • Urthman says:

      It’s a different team, and it’s hard to tell whether this will fee like Gothic the way Risen did.

      For instance, I can’t tell from the trailer if Spellbound can pull off (or is even trying to pull off) the kind of terrain and level design by which Piranha Bytes proves that procedurally generated train is still vastly inferior to well-made hand-designed terrain.

    • Digit says:

      That’s a very good point in regard to the terrain. I didn’t actually realise it was a different team, my bad for skimming things. I do have a soft spot for PB though, as I thought Risen was ace. Well, as with all things time will tell. I am certainly hoping for the best, and yes I really hope they stick with hand-crafted worlds as I really agree there that they are still tops compared to procedurally generated ones. :>

  46. Mr. me. says:

    “Mr. Gothic 4 director! We have finally done it! We’ve secured the BEST graphics engine the industry has to offer!”
    “Good work, you! We’ve wanted Cryengine 2 for a long time, and we finally did it!”
    “Sir.. Cryengine?.. Two?”
    “Yes?”
    ” Uhm.. No disrespect, sir, please don’t fire me or hurt my family. But, the engine is actually called Unreal Engine. Without a two. But just look at it! It’ll blow everything out of the water!”
    “What year is this?”
    ” … 2004.. Sir?”
    “Hrm, close enough. No one will notice anyway”.

    Sorry if you read that, it’s pretty horrible. I should have just said that the graphics are shit compared to, yes seriously, Gothic 3. What happened there anyway, how do you get shittier graphics in a new game, years later? Maybe someone set a couple pc clocks to april 1. somewhere? By any means, I’m not one of the graphics-is-everything crowd, quite contrary.. But come on, this is embarassing.

  47. Internet guy says:

    “We’re actually the new Planescape Torment we’re that original”

    Thank you for this. Best laugh I’ve had all day!

  48. Michael says:

    I’m not sure Scotland and Wales agree…