Have any of you been watching the progress of Serpent in the Staglands
on Steam? I've been watching and geeking out huge over this one since I discovered it but the reason for it is very very specific. To understand my enthusiasm for SitS one has to first be a Darklands geek. As AI is describing, it's difficult to go back to them old classics because they were damn near impenetrable -- but no PC game EVER was as impenetrable as Darklands.What is Darklands?
How many of you have even heard of it?
I'll not go into it here in too much detail because explaining this fucking game is a hell of a business, but suffice it to say that Darklands was to Baldur's Gate what Wasteland was to Fallout. The weirder, more little-known precursor that set the technical and tonal what-was-to-come for something huge.
Darklands was basically Baldur's Gate removed from the TSR license and stuck into fantasy mediaval Germany. And not like D&D fantasy world either - low-tech fantasy world with the Catholic church, saints, alchemy, pfennigs and florins, the Medici family, Hapsburgs and witches and satanists all over the damn place combined with a splashing of fantasy tropes like Gargoyles, Niebelungen and Demons.
The game had a very strong, very pronounced Christian religious overtone to it because it was the damn middle ages. All your characters were Catholic so praying to saints and collecting knowledge of saints was a huge deal with practical in-game mechanics. Characters walked around accumulating hagiographic lore in the same was as Geralt collects potion recipes. Menaced by guards in an alley? Quick, pray to St. Christopher or St. Adolphus of the Flenses or whoever the patron saint of getting out of jams is. The plot was crazy and involved one of your party beginning to get Joan of Arc style visions from God that warned of the impending incursion of the no-shit capital-D Old Nick Lucifer devil into the quiet lands of medieval Bavaria.
Alchemy, likewise, was very weird all very grounded in the real world more or less. No "wizards" as a specific class but you could source bitumen, sulfur, saltpetre and charcoal and make potions and bombs with them and throw them at bandits to create smokescreens and acid clouds, etc. Visit real world universities like Bremen and Rotenburg, practice alchemy and learn things from professors. Equip zweihanders and plate mail.
Darklands had so many firsts in my book
- First time I remember creating a party from scratch, wiping a charcter when they perma-died(!!) and picking up a replacement at ye olde local inn.
- First time I'd seen a party where you equipped everything via a "Paper Doll" interface
- First time I'd 'clicked to pause' my party in realtime battles - a staple that would go on to define Infinity Engine.
- First time I'd encountered encumbrance choices when speccing characters.
- Only time that extensive knowledge of mediaval Catholic saints made a huge and meaningful impact on my survival.
Anyway, that's what this game is. It is to Darklands what the new XCOM is to X-COM. Fond memories of a very specific thing filtered through 20 years of nostalgic memory.