Crusaders of the Dark Savant or Wizardry 7 as it is also known is the hardest CRPG I have ever played. I did finish it, but I'm not ashamed to admit I needed help. The game is not for a casual role play, you will need to devote many, many weeks to the game. The game only comes on two disks, yet contains a rich and full role playing land that puts more modern offerings such as Menzoberranzan ( the 1 week wonder ) to shame. The price for the rather humble disk space comes in the graphics, whilst they are in 256 colours there is little variation. All the dungeons, towers and like will look the same after a while. The monsters are well drawn, although the same monster picture is used for several monsters of similar breeding. For example, a Blackbird, Rook, Fire Crow, Dragon Rook and Vampire Rook all look identical.
The game is very non-linear and I found myself revisiting several sites to pick up items I had forgotten or left behind. Some items found quite early in the game are not required until much, much later. I found the best procedure when dealing with items was to try to sell it to one of the many characters you meet. If the item is essential a message will inform you that you need the item.
The plot is as complicated as the game, basically your party of six arrives on a planet that is in a state of war between several races. You must try to keep a globe called the Astral Dominae from getting into the hands of the Dark Savant. The Astral Dominae has power to destroy the universe. Along the way you will meet various races, good and bad You will join an order of monks, join the umpani army ( a rhino like biped ),and join an order of Dane priests and many more situations. Many of the deeds you perform will have consequences later in the game, so always act with honour.
I have mixed feelings about this game, there are things I really liked and things I did not. I liked having full control over all my character's statistics ( and it pays to put effort into character generation ). Your characters stats really do affect their abilities. I have played other games were the stats were dubious, but not in Savant. For example if your character has no map reading skills, the auto map will miss vital details. I liked the turn based combat, I hate games like doom, I like to sit back and apraise a battle before making my moves.
OK, what about the things I did not like. Firstly, some of the puzzles are too hard and vague. I also found that my magic using characters only learnt some of the really powerful spells so late in game that the spells were useless as most of the monters were magic resistant by that stage, for example the Mega bots and battle droids were only affected by Acid Spalsh. The same with weapons, you spend half the game hacking away with ordinary weapons.
In summary Crusaders would suit the serious CRPG player who wants a challenge. There are many parts I did not complete, I never defeated the blind Mouse guy to get the weapon Cane Corpus and I could not defeat two of the monsters in the Hall of Gorrors.
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