|Version||8.3 (newest available is 8.4)|
Bold adventurer, is it fame you are after? Do you want treasure, fight fierce beasts or just to explore the land? This roguelike game, Fame, does not provide any answers for these questions. An adventurer you are and thats it. A manual bundled with the game also remains quiet about your reasons to wander around the world and whack monsters risking your life many times in the process. I found this lack of introduction incongruent with Fame’s otherwise well done plot. Anyway, who really needs a reason to hunt monsters?
Your hero arrives at the village of Elunny. He or she notices it is a beautiful day and already has a good idea what occupation would be enjoyable under such circumstances. There are some NPCs waiting in their homes for you to come and help them out. You might get some quests or decide to immediately head out into wilderness instead in search of some action. If tutorial option was checked you already have a quest to complete. I found the hand-holding mode to be a waste of time. The tutorial is short and tells only about the basics one can figure out in almost no time anyway.
Traveling long distances is one of most noticeable things fundamentally different about Fame. World map is divided into segments and crossing boundaries of one places you into another. This is a good way to escape any tough creatures going after your hide. You can find mushrooms in forests. Also, trees are neither obstructing your vision nor movement. This is nice. In plains you may find large rocks which do block passage but they are rare.
While crossing the country that way is more immersive it is monotonous at the same time. Locations visited more than once invite player to hold down movement key to traverse them. Fortunately when an encounter happens you will be stopped from running into adversaries by a pop up window announcing whatever you meet. Unfortunately if you decide to avoid the generated baddies there is nothing informing you next time of hostile presence in the area. Quite annoying.
Next feature diverging from usual behavior is permadeath. Here it is merely an option to take. Before version 8.4 it was not even supported. The decision makes sense because Fame is not as well suited to replayability as average roguelike game. Static plot takes up large chunk of play time. There is long random dungeon providing lots of varied action but in this department many other games outclass Fame by a wide margin. Since the plot is one of main strengths of the game forcing player to replay it as a punishment for mistakes would be counterproductive.
Fantasy roguelikes often implement hunger. A few have added thirst, some add fatigue and sleep. Fame belongs to the latter category. Your character has to eat but also needs to rest. Yes, you can die from exhaustion if energy meter reaches 0%. I have mixed feelings about this feature. It feels like silly interrupt in glorious times of fighting powerful monsters and searching for fabulous treasure. On the other hand getting bogged down by hostiles now carries additional threat. Even if you slaughter them left and right not getting to safe place in time may have you lose the war of attrition. Bring potions of energy.
Hunger itself is not a concern. It is fairly easy to find locals to dine on. Try to vary your diet, some corpses give funny messages. You should never fear starvation unless you fancy a zombie remains for a breakfast. This is a big no-no.
Fame seems to be greatly influenced by Ancient Domains of Mystery. Developed plot, detailed bestiary, presence of wilderness and large world to explore all seem to be inspired by this old roguelike or at least bear significant resemblance. Some in-game messages like “You encounter a lone wizard” are straight homage to ADOM. Fame does a lot of things its own way but the influence is quite visible.
The game is full of quests. Their number does not approach LambdaRogue even remotely but certainly beats most other roguelike games. Many quests feature interesting pieces of dialog and occasionally some meaningful choices to make. Plot in Fame is well developed but I feel it detracts from replayability. However, it is difficult to have interesting random quests.
Things you are asked to do by NPCs mostly comprise of collecting items from a location or killing some monsters. Then there are odd things like “fetch me a beer” or escort mission. I was surprised by the last one because it was easy. Perhaps trying to rescue the cute puppy in ADOM too many times left me expecting a lot of grief out of guarding a NPC.
Sooner or later inviting depths of mysterious dungeon will lure a prospecting hero in. There is dark inside so it is prudent to bring a torch. Dungeons provide old fashioned hack and slash kind of fun. There is random loot and plenty of monsters to kill. While the items you may find are nicely varied one cannot say the same about monsters.
Creatures in Fame are very bland. Their types tend to differ by stats, speed, picture and description. You fight majority of them with the same single tactic. First, find a choke point, then just slay them one by one. Two exceptions are vampires and basilisks. Vampires are best treated with silver, basilisks can paralyze you. Add venom using monsters to the list and you have seen it all. Finding a new creature strain is supposed to be exciting. Alas, when that beholder turns out to be nothing more than stronger, weird looking goblin it starts to become boring.
Inside one of dungeons I found a shop. Well, this alone is nothing new. The fact you can ask the owner is it good to have a business deep inside dark dungeon is something innovative. Turns out the dude knows perfectly well who has the most money and where to meet them. Nice surprise.
Another failing of Fame are unimplemented skills, that are nonetheless present in the game. Randomize button will avoid picking these for you. If you are curious you may choose them yourself only to find these really do nothing or close to nothing.
Working skills are divided into two categories: combat and adventuring. Members of the first are used automatically. You just have to fight to raise them. Sadly blunt weapons seems to be exactly like axes but for mace-like implements. There is no incentive to choose any weapon skill over another. Adventuring abilities are much better fleshed out.
Final word of warning: save your game often. You may see danger in the form of tough encounter coming but predicting a crash bug attack is impossible. These happen rarely but can ruin your day if you use the save button sparingly. A lot of roguelike genre enthusiasts treat save as something to do before taking a break. Not advisable in this case. Also, a number of minor bugs may make your play unpleasant or even stall your progress. A saving grace is author usually deals with reported problems very swiftly.
In current stage of development Fame offers solid plot consisting of many quests. Game itself could use a bit more content. Gameplay leaves something to be desired, too. It is a roguelike with strong tendencies towards RPGs. I found it to be fun and worth checking out. Good thing it is actively developed. Plus it comes with up to date manual. How many games give you accurate documentation? Oh, and it has werehedgehogs. Now that is a name worthy of a true monster.
Polish players may want to set “lang” to “pl” in their game.ini file. You can find it in directory where applications usually store user data on your platform.