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  1. #1
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    serpent in the staglands

    Somehow missed this? It looks crazy good, I have no idea how neat looking Darklands/good late Ultima looking RPG slipped through both its kickstarter and launch for me.

    I found this through chris avellone's twitter -

    https://twitter.com/ChrisAvellone/st...28518868840448

    It was on RPS once back in march -
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015...the-staglands/

    there's a demo -

    http://serpentinthestaglands.com/demo.php

    Anyone have it? I have to wait a bit to get the actual demo and see for myself. Have the kind of feeling that maybe I would have heard more if it was actually good, but, there doesn't seem to be even one single review of this on any gaming site anywhere other than GOG/Steam, and for what those are worth they are making it sound pretty rad. It's the kind of thing where even if it's actually pretty crummy I can still see myself being interested on some level.

    How did this stealth so hard it managed to launch for weeks without a word about it?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Wolfenswan's Avatar
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    It's a great game and unbelievable to think that it's the work of only two people. If I'd have to compare it to any RPG of the past I'd say it's closer to Fallout 1 than BG1, esp. the overworld travel and the way towns work. The comparison to darklands is apt too but SitS is less free-form and does not feature cookie-cutter questing.

    Speaking of quests, so far I'm really happy with their design. No town feels like an assortment of hapless NPCs who've been waiting 20 years for you to come by and carry a bunch of eggs to the other NPC 20m over. All quests feel organic (having only a "manual" journal instead of an automatic quest log helps with that) and fit into the game world.

    That said, the game def. did hurt from it's low-profile release and little beta testing (not necessarily their fault, just not enough feedback before release). There have been tons of patches after release, fixing many small UI and balancing issues. But the game is very much play- and enjoyable atm. and I think whalenought studies deserves all the money you can throw at them, if only because I'd love to see what they'll create once they've gained some reputation.

    Regarding reviews:
    Steam reviews are overwhelmingly positive and the codex is generally gushing about it and taking turns to applaude the devs. That they aren't featured elsewhere is probably due to the little PR they did and that they didn't know any "big cat" in the pc review game. I think Avalone recently hyped them on his twitter so hopefully they'll get some more exposure soon. Right now this one is def. a hidden gem but as I said, it's deserves to be a shooting star, a vision of ecstasy and to shine bright light a diamond.
    Last edited by Wolfenswan; 16-06-2015 at 01:26 PM.

  3. #3
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    I backed it, I wrote to RPS about it and I frequently mentioned it on this very forum. Sadly, I barely had any time to play in the last couple of weeks but I will get to it soon enough.
    Immersive Sims on Steam WIP

    Thrust Issues: A Marvelous Guide to Fencing in Dark Souls 2

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  4. #4
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    I know this is just me being shallow, but the graphics don't do it any favors imho.
    They look very authentic, but don't quite have the charm of pixel graphics or the wow of more modern graphics.

    I'd kill for a modern version of Darklands.. but mainly what I want is Darklands with updated graphics, rather than something with darklands era graphics.

    I'm sure it's lovely, but it's not hugely eye catching.

  5. #5
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    Gods help you, BillButNotBen. Now you are truly lost.
    Immersive Sims on Steam WIP

    Thrust Issues: A Marvelous Guide to Fencing in Dark Souls 2

    Without directions a lot of people wind up going round in circles...

  6. #6
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    I'm not much for isometric RPGs; the only ones I ever finished were Planescape Torment and Fallout 2. Everything else old and new: Pillars, Wasteland 2, BG1/2, I've abandoned less than half-way through, and the rest (Ultima, Darklands, Wasteland) I've never bothered trying.

    But Staglands is rocking my socks off. Wolfenswan covered the good stuff, and it is really good. I love the feeling of dread in the air, and the slow burn of a plot that unfolds organically like Fallout 1's. I like the worldbuilding and how it feels very little like a story explicitly about the player. The "quest" design is great, primarily because it doesn't package them like fast food from a menu. There's no way to tell if a merchant offering an arbitrage deal on spices is an inverted fetch quest or a scam. It's not clear what the "main quest" is and what are side objectives. I'm now a convert to the practice of writing my own "quest" journals because of the ambiguity it brings. I'm growing to like the combat too, it's a welcome change from having to remember to cast a dozen abilities across the party every five seconds in Pillars.

    But there are also plenty of issues beyond just the expected bugs and balance issues. Here are some things hurting my immersion:
    "Richness": The bare bones budget shows in more than just the graphics. I'm spoiled by the dialog trees from the Infinity engine games (and more recently, Pillars), and there simply isn't enough conversation or flavour text to go around. Your companions are mostly mute, you cannot broach obviously relevant topics with officials, or talk to people you've talked to once. Every NPC reacts the same way if you try to pilfer their belongings regardless of their status or relationship with you. There's very little immediate "throwaway" reactivity in the dialog, which is puzzling, because it's the cheapest kind of reactivity to create. This is pretty much all Telltale games have.

    A word on the graphics too: I think the environments look gorgeous and alive and the animations simple and smooth; this is pixel art done right. The character sprites, though, not so much.

    It's missing some important usability features (Esc does not do what you expect it to in many menus), and some that would have been nice: Marking locations on the map, or a journal that supports proper text editing and is less cumbersome. Right now each entry is limited to ~300 characters, making it more of a notepad to jot down addresses than a diary that supplements my role-playing. And I suppose asking for a keyword search in the journal would be too much.

    And finally, considering it's somewhat narrative light, it's just not as systems-heavy as I was hoping either. Day/night makes little difference to NPCs or encounter design, guards do not react to my fighting bandits in their presence, and everything (and everyone) feels more like a backdrop than it (and they) actually is (and are). This is a strange problem for an RPG to have; the opposite of the usual carefully disguised shallowness.

    I suppose most of this comes down to manpower, budget and time, and that's fair. Still, even accounting for how much I'm enjoying it, I figure if you can't beat the big guys in attention to graphical detail, you have to do beat them at something, and Staglands falls short in all these almost-there​ ways.
    Last edited by karthink; 20-07-2015 at 12:21 PM.

  7. #7
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    Which reminds me, I gotta check Darklands at some point. Tried it long before GoG miracle-wrapped it and it had tons of issues.

  8. #8
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    If i ever get around to it, I'm going to stick Darklands on my android tablet and see how that goes.

  9. #9
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    Sounds good on paper, but looks horrible. I rather playing something else rather than risk going blind trying to see whats the screen.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by smullyoz View Post
    Sounds good on paper, but looks horrible. I rather playing something else rather than risk going blind trying to see whats the screen.
    I think it looks fine; all screen elements are quite readable.

  11. #11
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    I played the demo and thought otherwise. Hurts to look at it. They could've easily made it twice the resolution, then it could be playable. Maybe it will work in an ipad sized screen or something.

  12. #12
    This game really went down a press hole. The only other place I even saw it discussed was on the Codex. From what I've seen it just released at a time where the is a glut of really good RPGs and it can't compete on its low budget and lack of standouts features.

  13. #13
    Network Hub Aerothorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axiomsofdominion View Post
    This game really went down a press hole. The only other place I even saw it discussed was on the Codex. From what I've seen it just released at a time where the is a glut of really good RPGs and it can't compete on its low budget and lack of standouts features.
    2015 really is the Year of the RPG - partially thanks to the time cycle on Kickstarter games, I'm not sure this many PC RPGs have *ever* been released in a year, and as far as Notable Good Ones it certainly beats any year this century. In the long winter of no-RPGs, there would have been more championing of something like Serpent on the Staglands, just as there was for the original Witcher, but right now I literally can't even look at it because I have a massive RPG backlog.

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