Eschalon Book I: A must-have game

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

In between moderating, tinkering with Linux and holding the weight of the Internets on my shoulders, I found a new game that I really, really like.

That’s the Eschalon Book I demo, an oblique-angle RPG in the vein of Diablo or the Fallout series. It’s probably the best game I’ve played in months (although I don’t get to play games as much as I’d like), and I’m thinking it would make a nice New Year’s present to myself. :)

You can guess the general premise and the basic mechanics, and while it’s technically turn-based, it moves quickly enough and action is simple enough that you won’t notice the turn mechanisms.

Graphics are its high and low points. It needs OpenGL to run, and the effects are beautiful, but the resolution is locked at 800×600, fullscreen or windowed. I’ve heard that future versions will bump up to 1024×768, which is a better choice in my opinion, since some of the flashes and spells would look great in detail. (As a side note, the system specs suggest a 1.8Ghz machine with 512Mb, but my 1Ghz is running it without any difficulty whatsoever.)

There are some other features of the game I’d love to see fleshed out — skills are rather rudimentary and mostly passive, spells are simple for what I’ve seen, and the ability to play as a female is almost necessary these days. But the game is nonlinear, which is a huge bonus in my book, and quests don’t seem like an eternity of fetching.

The picture is from an Ubuntu installation which worked perfectly off the bat; I tried it in Arch and I needed the mesa package to get it running, and never did get the sound quite worked out. (More about that later. ;) )

I haven’t seen any provision for online play, but again I’m just using the demo version; for all I know there could be ladders and rankings and who knows what else. I’m looking forward to trying it.

Anyway, it’s fun to watch and fun to play and eats time like crazy. Best of all? It’s another Linux-native game, so you don’t have to feel guilty about installing Wine or dual booting just to play.

Thanks to this thread and the Ubuntu Gamers Arena for introducing it to me. :D

Edit: Apparently I needed the alsa-oss package, and to start the game with aoss ./eschalon... from the terminal to get proper sound. :D

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