Hey all, Zanthia suggested that I throw this up here as well as the RPG board.
This is a review of the downloadable add-on for Icewind Dale Heart of Winter, Trials of the Luremaster. It's a 72MB download dungeon which should be enjoyable for all who have been playing this game.
For those unfamiliar with Icewind Dale, it is a Dungeons & Dragons RPG along the lines of Baldur's Gate, (though in this game, you create your whole 6 person party rather than pick up NPCs along the way) where you take a party of adventurers through dungeons, wilderness, caves and castles to save the towns of Icewind Dale from an evil which is spreading over the land. Heart of Winter is an expansion set for IWD which is bought (a la Opposing Force for Half-Life) and Trials of the Luremaster is a downloadable expansion for Heart of Winter (HOW is required for you to play this add-on). Trials recommends characters levels 11-18 but I would not recommend the level 11 end as it is not a simple thing to complete this.
I went through TOTL with my crash-n-bash squad (my squad from before I discovered the wonders of ranged weaponry). This took a while, 'specially since I don't use cheats. There are some battles which will challenge the best adventurers and some neat puzzles which are very different from those normally found in IWD.
You volunteer to go to purge this haunted castle for this little halfling gentleman you meet in the inn in HOW. He takes you there (note - stock up on stuff before you go as his shop is not that impressive and the ONLY way out of this add-on is to finish it!) and you get attacked momentarily after arriving. It goes from there. The spirit which haunts this castle (the Luremaster) gives you riddles which you must solve in order to figure out what to do. Normal puzzles in Icewind Dale are find the key, then find the door is goes to. Not so here. Not to go into too much detail but the initial riddle and accompanying tasks are not too hard but the next step is a little more difficult and this gets you into the castle proper. Once in, you must descend into the dungeon levels and from there you get another riddle which is to tell you how to get out of the dungeons which you are now locked into. This one is more difficult (especially since I missed examining a crucial hotspot for a few days and couldn't figure out what to do next) but it will lead to a great final battle. The ending is very good (though I went through the final battle twice and once it glitched and I didn't get the Luremaster's death speech).
During this section, Dungeons & Dragons fans will see some great classic creatures not seen in the other parts of IWD. Beholders, harpies, wyverns, rakshasa, djinni and jackalweres all make appearances in this new portion of the game. Make sure you save often, especially when dealing with the beholders, as they can disintegrate and use finger of death on you, placing you beyond raising or resurrecting. This is a great flashback to the dungeonhacking of D & D but really requires a good adventuring crew to take through. There are a few battles which are extremely difficult. I don't even think ranged weapons would make a difference on one of them, there's just too many opponents in too close a space. A lot of defensive spell-use comes in handy but the shamans have this habit of casting dispel magic/effects a lot. Plus there is some neat magic stuff (the big plus being bags of holding (2 of them) which will come in handy in the rest of the game).
Overall, this was an excellent idea of an add-on. Very challenging, good puzzles & riddles and a good storyline. I hope that this is not the last add-on we will see issued in this fashion.
I give this a big thumbs up.
Now playing: Too bloody many (sigh)
Now reading: Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 9th edition (1995)