Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness – Review of a retro isometric RPG


There were times when the term “RPG” did not mean an open world with a myriad of questions. When, instead of the only chosen humanity, a party of adventurers saved. When CRT monitors were dominated by hand-painted isometric environments instead of 3D landscapes. And when the success of any action was determined by a virtual dice roll.

Many people like to remember these times not only because they were simply younger and without worries, but because it was a golden era of role-playing for them. Legendary fantasy series like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale or, in my best opinion, Planescape: Torment were born at this time.

But the rich age of these isometric RPGs is not over. Seven years ago, the return of the Infinity Engines heroes opened the gates of the Pillars of Eternity, a year later the Tyranny villain simulator. We’ve got a spiritual sequel to Planescape Torment: Tides of Numenera, and the third installment of Baldur’s Gate by Larian Studios is almost in sight.

And the developers from GrapeOcean Technologies in Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness want to take you on a magical journey into the past and the famous RPG age.

retro you in

The pleasant nostalgic freezing of Black Geyser causes already during the creation of the character. The heart of every Dungeons & Dragons lover beats when tables, classes, races, abilities, spells unfold before him and he begins to create his own river in a very familiar editor.

The list, although undeniably rich, offers a more or less classic selection of traditional role-playing games. Only occasionally did the authors do the job of changing the name of something. You will find that the Highlander is actually a barbarian, Spellweaver is a wizard, the Templar is a paladin, the Shaman is a cleric and the Cleric is a priest. Perhaps the only interesting and unique class is Wintermage, a magician with an affinity for ice lines.

The witness’s heart beats for the second time as the game throws you into the world of Yerengal and you are greeted by a familiar isometric view of the game environment. The stylization and visuals of the twenty-year-old RPGs have succeeded, and Black Geyser looks more like a sequel to Baldur’s Gate than what Larian Studios is preparing.

The graphic experience is modestly modernized. There are only a few animated elements in the environment, such as (some) vegetation and floating banners, but such lights, shadows, reflections and magic look great. At the same time, the game retains a clear message and never betrays its inspiration, even if it means somewhat awkward animations of the characters.

Hero fifty times and still for the first time

The story of the Black Geyser is like a guide for the beginning Lord of the Cave. The world is shaken by the civil war, the main decisive force of which is you. And from a small local point of view, as usual, a conflict will arise over the future of the whole world, in which you will face the gods themselves.

The main storyline is made up of a number of high fantasy clichés. The cult of the dark god? Yes. A prophecy about the end of the world? Of course. Elf thief and dwarf warrior? But of course. A reversal in which an insignificant servant becomes a chosen one? Write it down! But it is a high-quality, fun and well-served béčko.

The world, though not very imaginative, is plagued by a curse of greed that directly reflects your actions. It grows with every stolen object, with every unrejected reward, with every defense of the corpse and with every greedy answer in the dialogues. As the world gradually sinks deeper into greed, traders’ prices rise and the Yerengal becomes a darker place to live. Roleplaying is thus not limited to the extremes of good / evil, but it is necessary to find a balance between potential gain and hopelessness. Despite its archetypality, the Black Geyser offers an interesting gray zone in which the player moves most of the time.

You must gather your party before venturing forth

Although the main plot is predictable and unoriginal, its delivery through dialogues drains well and can keep you playing longer. It can also bring story twists and important decisions that will dramatically affect how your party’s journey will take place. Unfortunately, the party is the weakest link in terms of script.

For example, there is no interaction at all between the members of your party. The characters lack a memorable character, so you’ll just think of them as tools. If the authors wanted to at least get closer to such legendary characters as Minsc, Jaheira or Morte, they did not come across. Even the motivation why some join your journey is usually dusty: “Hi, can I join you?”

It reminds me of when we played Dragon’s Lair as a teenager. If the “pijej” didn’t want to invent an introductory adventure, how our characters ever met, he limited himself to: “You’re just a bunch, you all know each other well. Especially whether we play. “

Side quests are also below average. The “Couriers of Darkness” from the game’s subtitle could be used for the vast majority of optional quests, as every first and last stimulus makes you messengers. Optional assignments are limited to the mere: “Go there, take the thing and bring it back to me.”

When two people do the same thing, it’s not the same thing

Although love for the golden era of RPGs and an effort to get as close as possible to the source of inspiration comes out of every piece of Black Geyser, some elements of the design would need to be significantly improved and in my second decade they simply have no place.

While such a diary, for example, is pleasantly retro, because the game doesn’t tell you exactly what to do, but instead you have to read a bit between the lines, on the other hand, the absolutely horrible work with the user interface kills any joy of tacting and arming the party.

For example, you cannot map keyboard shortcuts to the action bar. This is a problem mainly for classes that have magic. Each level of spells has its own bar, which you have to switch between. In more challenging fights, where you really need to make the most of each party member, the cadence of the click is more like Diablo, and the tactics turn into a tiring slave.

The work with inventory, trading and robust crafting are terrible, which I completely ignored, because the production of only one potion is a lengthy click-through process.

Artificial intelligence and pathfinding also occur. Once the enemy starts attacking your character, it takes an awful long time to change the target. You, with a character who is wearing “aggro”, can run around while the rest of the opponent’s party is massaged with fire and sword. And they won’t be pleased that magicians and other fragile professions are rushing to the front lines with their clubs outstretched to fall under a welcoming volley of arrows and magic.

Difficulty would also deserve to tune in. The fights attract a good old system with an active break, but most of the game is enough to kill everything by fighting close and cast one or two spells here and there. This changes dramatically at the end of the game, when skirmishes with ordinary enemies require the deployment of all abilities and frequent quickloads.

Recording times from hell

With the bite of frequent uploads, I come across an absolutely fundamental problem that Black Geyser has. Even taking into account the above-mentioned complaints, I enjoyed playing and the experience was good, authentic, until it was able to magically transfer time to simpler times.

But all this is absolutely fundamentally disrupted by brutal recording times, which sometimes climb to tens of seconds. And that’s a stumbling block, because every location is recorded. Transition from one quarter to another – load. Entrance to the building – load. Exit to the second floor – load. Then, when you are sent to another area as part of the quest, not to mention the interior, playing will be very annoying to you, because you know that most of the time you will travel, you will be looking at the recording screen. The authors assure the community that they are working on the problem, but how many and when they will be successful is in the stars.

Add to all the recurring music, missing content, and achievements that the authors are yet to add to the game, leaving this year’s preliminary approach is hard to understand. In short, Black Geyser does not act as a finished product in its final form, and therefore is difficult to recommend in its current state.

Developers can be expected to work hard to catch bugs and add content, with only about three updates released during the review, and Black Geyser really looks like a work created with love. But if I want to remember the legendary role-playing games, I’ll reach for an RPG from Bioware in the 1990s, which received an update in the form of an Enhanced Edition. At least until all the flies are caught in the Black Geyser.


Source: Games by games.tiscali.cz.

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