Posted by: Ben | March 3, 2010

Moria Part 2: More O’ Ya

The problem with being the hardest bastard in the room is that at some point a harder bastard is inevitably going to walk in and demand your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle, before breaking your arm and throwing you at the nearest hotplate. I have reached Level 14 (which is the highest I have ever levelled a character, assuming that levelling mechanics are fairly similar in all games that have them). These tunnels are my home, and other adventurers fear me. I am the minotaur, a cursed creature of miscegenation and shame that stalks these tunnels in a foul mood, butchering everything I see. And yet I’m about to meet my Waterloo, if that isn’t too grotesque a mixed metaphor.

A couple of hours earlier I was banging my head against a brick wall. There’s nothing more frustrating and un-fun than being stuck in a single small room with two dead-end passages leading off from it. You know there must be a secret way out somewhere but the only way to find it is to search every single square of wall, and each search only has a small and unquantified chance of being successful. All you can do is keep going round and round until you find something. At what must have been the very last moment before I gave up, I did eventually find an exit but it didn’t give me any great sense of achievement, it only made me wonder what the bloody point was.

The point, it turns out, is acclimatisation. Four hours ago I started out not knowing how to get through locked doors, get valuable mineral deposits out of the rock and search for secret passages. It’s not only my character who’s learning. I’m becoming more familiar with the world and my character’s development reflects this. And now that it’s taking me so damn long to get back to the surface when I start to run low on food (following an unwise hand-to-hand encounter with a creature called a Rot Jelly that apparently eats all your food), I’m beginning to think about discovering the mysteries of teleportation. Once I get back to the shop to sell some of the unidentifiable crap I’ve picked up in the dungeon, it turns out that I had a teleportation scroll all along but I was too much of a girl’s blouse to just read it.

So far the most fiendish opponents I’ve come across are a Green Mould that makes me too afraid to attack it, and a Grape Jelly that saps experience as well as hit points. Even these are easy pickings once I’ve learned the ways of the bow and arrow. But things are about to get much more dangerous. 650ft down, and I’ve been poisoned – several times – in a fight with a Hairy Mould. Usually this isn’t a problem, as it wears off after a few turns, but this one doesn’t seem to be wearing off. My hit points are dropping. Resting doesn’t help. I’ve got two scrolls, three potions and three rings of unknown use. There could be a lethal fight around any corner. Time to start experimenting. The pearl ring goes on first. It’s cursed, so I can’t get it off, and it doesn’t seem to be doing anything for the poison – if anything it’s speeding it up. The first scroll doesn’t do anything either. The second is a Scroll of Light, which seems to have the effect of lighting up the room, although I already have a perfectly good light source. Time to engage in the highly risky strategy of drinking strange potions. But before I can try one, I teleport to an unexplored area of the same dungeon. That must have been the first scroll working. Didn’t cure the poison though. On a whim, I try a Cure Light Wounds potion, which unexpectedly works. That was a close one. In the meantime, I’ve been teleporting around at random. It must be this cursed ring.

Then, for no readily apparent reason I go blind. Perhaps I stumbled into a hidden trap, or perhaps I was just masturbating too much. This is not good. Not on the thirteenth floor of a monster-infested mine. Then, for even less reason, somebody in the vicinity magically summons a monster. I don’t like the way this is going. In the nick of time I get my sight back and kill ‘im (it was an unspecified Magic User.) Unfortunately I’ve teleported again and ended up in a dark room, being alternately bitten by Creeping Gold Coins and a Giant White Tick, one or both of which has a poisonous bite. My health is low and I don’t think I’m going to make it. The Cure Light Wounds potion doesn’t really cure poison, it was just a coincidence last time. Time for random potion drinking. Cloudy, gold speckled or light blue? Has to be blue, really. Blammo! It was a potion of healing. How fortuitous.

But my death is still waiting for me. You see, earlier on this same level I encountered a room of Giant Gnats. The thing about Giant Gnats is that they multiply a whole lot faster than you can kill them, and soon they were swarming through one whole corner of the dungeon. Not a corner I would have gone back to if it hadn’t been for the whole random teleportation thing, but here I was, and it doesn’t matter how tough you are, unless you have a decent escape route they can nibble your health away to zero. Which is exactly what they did.

Total Play Time: 6hrs 30mins.
Verdict: The longer I last in one of these games, the more I like it, and as those six and a half hours prove, Moria is as compelling as this sort of game has a right to be. The interactivity is pretty rudimentary, but what’s most appealing is the way your character grows in tandem with your knowledge of the game world.

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Responses

  1. I love it. : D

    I’m not sure I’ve played Moria, but I’m a huge fan of Roguelikes. My most played is probably ADOM, but I recently came across Brogue and love it, too. I posted a review on my blog if you’re interested… it’s Mac native, but there are apparently Windows / Linux ports around.


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