Gemcraft: Achievements

Gemcraft: Chasing Shadows has 419 Achievements.

One is awarded for winning the game in “Iron Wizard” mode, a harder version of the game that becomes available when you reach experience level 100 in regular mode. (Not as big a deal as it sounds — I’m well over level 500 currently.) Iron Wizard doesn’t seem to be the no-failure-allowed ruleset that other games call “Iron Man”, but it removes the experience system, which makes skill points much harder to come by. At any rate, I won’t be able to get that Achievement in my current playthrough.

The other 418 are a varied lot. Some are outright impossible to not get. Some require special effort. Some are tutorial-like, using the achievement system to point out non-obvious things about the rules, like the fact that building an Amplifier right next to your base helps reduce damage to it. There’s a whole set that require beating particular battlefields under arbitrary constraints that you’re unlikely to do unless you’re specifically going for the achievement, like “Harvest 24,000 mana from shards at field K5 before wave 18 starts”, or “Don’t build anything at field H1”, or “Use only armor tearing gems at field R4”, injecting a little extra variety into proceedings.

The one consistent thing is that every Achievement applies to a single battle, and you must actually win the battle for it to count. Even in the few cases where the condition for the achievement is something that happens outside the battlefield, like “Upgrade all skills to level 5 or greater”, you have to actually play out a battle in that state to get credit for it.

No matter what’s in the achievements, they all seem quite achievable. I have the majority of them already, and I’m making a serious go of getting them all. This is clearly what the designers want. These are not your tacked-on Achievements concocted at the last minute to satisfy console certification requirements. These achievements are deeply integrated into the game. Achievements give you extra skill points — it’s a fraction of what you get from leveling up, but every little bit helps. And there’s a very nice in-game Achievements menu that lets you filter them by various attributes, including the attributes of “locked” and “unlocked”. This is useful for planning which Achievements you want to go for in your next battle. Sometimes I can find several that naturally go together.

In fact, the game goes a step beyond that. It lets you access the Achievements menu in the middle of battle. I really didn’t see the point of this at first — it seemed like a case of counting your money while you’re sitting at the table. But the battlefield version of the menu shows bar graphs where applicable, letting you track your progress towards that “Kill 150 Cursed monsters using the Beam spell” or whatever. Better yet, it adds a few new filter attributes, letting you look at just the achievements that are still achievable in the current battle.

So basically, the developers have put a lot of effort into catering to the achievement-mongers among us. The only game I know of with a more capable in-game Achievements UI is Team Fortress 2, which lets you display progress towards selected Achievements on the in-game HUD. TF2 is also one of the few games I’ve played that has more Achievements than this one.

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