Heimdall: Adventure Bits

After another lengthy flight, I’ve spent enough time waiting around to be well into the second of Heimdall‘s three chapters. I think I’ve pretty much cracked this game. As is often the case, the initial challenge is simply learning to think the way that the authors want you to think, figuring out what’s expected of you. Although the moment-to-moment details of this game are RPG-like, the larger goals more resemble a rather simple adventure game. Or, to put it another way, it’s a simple adventure game stretched out with lots of RPG-style padding. But the combination makes things somewhat more difficult than either would be alone.

And by that, I mean that there are items with non-obvious uses. Every once in a while, the game throws a quest item at you that you’ll need later in some special circumstance — but it’s not always obvious when this happens. Scrolls generally contain combat spells, but the more unclearly-titled spells have effects on the map level, like revealing secret doors. If I find a scroll of Revelation, I know from earlier experience that this is a part of a puzzle: somewhere, probably nearby, is something important and invisible. If you find, say, a ring, it’s less clear: it has no obvious use in combat (the engine doesn’t even provide a way to equip jewelry), but it might be something than an NPC somewhere wants, or it might just be a treasure that you can sell for food money. The wisest course is to hand it off to someone back on the boat and wait for more information. And that seems to be the key to the game. Don’t use stuff up if you don’t know what it’s for.

Mind you, the game can be forgiving even so. At one point, I found a scroll with an offensive spell said to be deadly against giants. I stashed it on the boat, thinking I’d pull it out when I started encountering giants regularly. It turns out that there is one giant, a singular boss monster, which I encountered while the scroll was still in storage. I beat it anyway. Heimdall’s stats are maxed out by now, so special encounters of this sort aren’t the problems they once were.

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