Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tales of Maj'Eyal: I Am Terrible

It's a rare game that holds my attention despite utterly destroying my characters on a regular basis. Tales of Maj'Eyal is one of the few.

I'm used to failure in roguelike games. It's part of the draw - see how far you can get without dying. Or without dying too many times, in the case of the Adventure mode that Tales of Maj'Eyal offers with limited extra lives. Usually after a dozen or so tries, I'm able to make reasonable progress.

Not so much in Tales of Maj'Eyal. I have more than 20 characters in my personal Hall of Shame, and that's only in the original campaign. (Still haven't moved on the to the new one.) The highest was level 40, which puts him about 80% of the way through when a bunch of orcs stomped him into the ground.

I'm not trying to do something supremely difficult, like play in permadeath mode on a high difficulty level. Almost all of my attempts have been on the normal difficulty, and using Adventure mode. And I've got enough attempts under my belt now that I mostly know what's coming.

What keeps killing me is two things: swarms and impatience. (And random bad luck, but that's hardly worth mentioning in a roguelike.) By swarms, I mean areas where I know there are a whole lot of enemies, but the game gives me no choice but to plow through. The worst offenders are various Orc strongholds that you have to raid, where you'll be jumped by a crowd immediately upon stepping inside. And by impatience, I mean that it's very easy to get tired of playing carefully and move into unexplored areas too quickly. All it takes is one nasty rare monster in the wrong spot, and...croak.

And yet, I keep playing. As I said earlier, my favorite part of the game is the various types of characters that are available. Sure, it's frustrating to lose a character, but it means I get to try something else. Often something new, because there's a bunch of additional character creation options that I've unlocked along the way, despite not making it all the way through the campaign.
Only 21 of 48 character creation options unlocked so far!
Eventually, the frustration over character deaths will outweigh my desire to try yet another new option. May be a while yet, though!

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