JtRH: Goblin Territory

After hitting a rough patch in the mid-teen levels, I’m making progress at a pretty good clip again. I’m up to level 20 now, so Rooted Hold is basically within sight, or would be if we weren’t underground. But let’s go back a bit, to level 13, a goblin level, because that level has a pretty big gameplay shift. In the course of solving this level, you encounter the Goblin King, who’s kidnapped Halph and is holding him for ransom. The ransom is more than Beethro can afford, and ultimately the King admits that he knew this all along, that the ransom wasn’t the point. His real motivation is revenge for all the goblins killed by the Budkin family over the years and the ransom was just a way to make Beethro squirm. Beethro’s reaction is to charge into the goblins’ living areas and slaughter them all, much to Halph’s dismay — Halph, as established back when he was just one of many unnamed nephews in the outro to King Dugan’s Dungeon, thinks goblins are cool and is eager to make friends with them. And really, the goblins were never going to hurt him. Like all the dungeon’s monsters, they recognize that he’s special. But Beethro comes to his rescue anyway, regarding the goblins as creeps and his nephew as an idiot.

But he can’t do that right away. He passes through several roomsworth of goblins that are tantalizingly out of reach, while he’s isolated in a parallel passageway. And it all ends in the staircase down. Back when I played JtRH the first time, I wasted some time looking for the hidden passage or crumbly wall that would let me through to complete these unsolved rooms, but there was none. DROD is extremely friendly about letting you go back and solve things later, though. You can restore to any checkpoint in any room, and still keep the credit for everything you’ve solved, which is a good thing, because everyone misses most of the secret rooms on their initial descent. So I did eventually move on, and thus found that the levels actually double back after a while. You solve level 14, then on level 15 there’s a second staircase leading back up, which leads to another staircase to the area on level 13 that you couldn’t reach before. I said before that there are no stairs going back upward, that going down stairs just deposits you in a room without any stairs in it, and that’s true for KDD and the first half of JtRH. It stops being true here. Floors 13 through 15 aren’t just a sequence. They’re a space.

Now, most rooms in DROD are self-contained, but even KDD had some puzzles that span multiple rooms. Most obviously there was the infamous maze level, but there was also a sprinkling of things like rooms that you couldn’t solve when you entered them the first time, and instead have to cross to a different exit and then loop around and come back from another direction that you can solve it from. It seems to me that JtRH engages in this pattern a lot more than KDD did, and that the goblin subquest simply takes it to another level 1Literally.. This is a trend that The City Beneath will continue, as the rooms come to more and more represent places rather than just puzzles.

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1. Literally.

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