Star Trail (1994) is the second part of the glorious Realms of Arkania Trilogy...
Can you join together the elves and dwarves in common war against the orc invaders? Star Trail features over 70 spells, 50 skills, over 350 types of items and weapons. A convenient autodiary records your adventure while a sophisticated automap allows for fast travel.
Star Trail was acclaimed best RPG of 1994 by:
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Realms of Arkania is a classic CRPG trilogy with a first-person 2D interface. Movement is tile-based in the first two games, more point-and-click in the third one. You control and develop a six-person party. The plot is a role-playing adventure and there are fantasy and science fiction themes. The games are untimed and require no manual dexterity. Combat is turn-based. There are three games in the Arkania computer series: Blade of Destiny, Star Trail, and Shadows Over Riva. You don't need to play any of them in order to fully enjoy the next--it is possible to export your party from game to game, but it isn't important to, and there is no continuity of plot. However, if you get all three games (they are often bundled together in one CD set,) you probably want to give Blade of Destiny a try first. This is the oldest of the three games, the controls are most irritating, and the mouse usually does not work. If you enjoy the experience anyway, then play the three in order--it's always nicer to move from a poor interface to a better one than vice versa. If you find that you're just not getting into Blade of Destiny, then skip ahead to Shadows Over Riva, which is the newest of the three and best adapted to modern machines. You can always go back for the others later if you find yourself hooked by the gameplay. Plot and Quests: There are a fair number of quests to undertake in these games, and the main plotlines of Star Trail and Riva are good. The quests don't have any flexibility to them, though. There is only one way to complete each quest, and rarely are you required to make choices. Puzzles and Mental Challenges: Realms of Arkania's dungeons are brimming with tricks, traps, and puzzles and are almost uniformly fun to play through. To my great surprise, when I went back to do the Blade of Destiny walkthrough I found I had actually missed a secret door in one of its dungeons. It's been a long time since a game has fooled me with a secret door. :-D There are no spatial or visual puzzles. The riddles have all been translated from the German, so some of them may actually be new to American players. (I always appreciate a riddle that isn't one of the same 15 that have been in basic dungeonmaster circulation since the '80's.) Characters: You get six PCs in this classic RPG format; all of them are customizable to your liking, including setting various personality parameters that will affect some of their in-game behavior (one character may have a high Curiosity, for example, while another may be particularly Avaricious). You can also have one NPC in your party at a time, who serves as little more than an extra combat hand. Gameworld: This trilogy is set in the gameworld of the popular German tabletop RPG "Das Schwarze Auge," which has quite obviously evolved from Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, it goes back to a lot of the irritating conventions of pre-AD&D Dungeons and Dragons, such as the impossibility of having both a racial identity (elf, dwarf, etc.) and a character class (thief, fighter, etc.) No dwarven mages or elven jesters here. The people of Arkania have a Teutonic feel about them but are otherwise thoroughly generic. In the third game a few more complexities of the gameworld begin to reveal themselves, to the betterment of the series. Gameplay (Leveling, Spells, etc.): The Realms of Arkania games are based on the 'Das Schwarze Auge' tabletop RPG, a skill-based system still popular in Europe. The game mechanics are minutely complicated, which is fun in many ways (gaining a level is an exciting affair, and you have great control over your characters' development) and irritating in others (the illness system is a chore, and it seems like every spell from the tabletop is represented here, despite the total uselessness of most of them within the games; as each has a non-transparent name like "Salother," this makes for a lot of flipping through the rulebook). Interface (Movement, Inventory Management, etc.): These are the most detailed computer games I have ever played. This is not necessarily a good thing. Though the interface is easy enough to use, Realms of Arkania puts a lot of emphasis on tedious repetitive chores like searching for water whenever you camp or changing your clothes to suit each day's weather, and many of these involve protracted clicking, scrolling, and dragging routines to accomplish. Battles are tactical and rather awkward--combat takes place on a diagonal grid, yet you must use horizontal and vertical movement commands to navigate. Thankfully, the interface is much streamlined for the third and final game. Ambience (Graphics, Sound, etc.): The player has a Wizardry-style first-person view of the surroundings, except during combat, when the scene switches to an Ultima-style third-person battleground. The look and feel are old-fashioned but fine; the high point is the atmospheric dungeons, which use textual details to help keep you immersed, and the low point is the combat scenes, where your characters have pre-assigned animated sprites that do not match their portraits or the weapons they are wielding and cannot be changed.
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