• MidBoss review by Rick Moscatello

    New. Different. Decent.

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    Over 30 years ago, a dungeon crawling game called Rogue was immensely popular. You were tossed randomly into a dungeon, with no knowledge of anything (for example, you donít know what any potions do). You must descend to the 26th level, find the Amulet of Yendor, and then ascend back up. What separated this game from all others was the lack of any save option.

    In other words, you had to beat the game making no fatal mistakes at any point. This made Rogue devilishly hard, and having frequently unwinnable dungeons didnít help matters. Rogueís popularity spawned the Roguelike genre: role playing games where you get no option to save (by this I mean you can save, but the save file is destroyed when you load it) and most games will end in permanent death.

    There have been many games in the genre, and the best recent one is Dungeons of Dredmorócheck it out to see the best Ďtraditionalí Roguelike in years. The big weakness to the genre is very few Roguelikes are all that much different (beyond vastly superior graphics) from the namesake.

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    Back in the ol' dungeon again.

    MidBoss adds a bit of spin: instead of a hero, you play as a monster, trying to move his way up in the world by moving further down the dungeon. Thatís not the real difference, however, since youíre still at heart a monster-bashing adventurer trying to survive a hostile environment.

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    So many stats, but it all boils down to HP.

    The big difference is you have the ability to possess and take the form of other monsters, eventually learning their abilities. Careful play will let you work your way up the food chain. You start by taking the form of a rat, then move up to vampire bats, and so on.

    Itís a clever system, but does have its quirks. There is no healing of health by resting (but you can regain stamina and mana). This makes possession of enemy monsters absolutely mandatory, though itís a bit unintuitive. To possess a monster, you have to beat it to deathÖthen you take its form with full hit points. Your equipment actually translates to the new form, so, if youíre wearing plate mail and wielding a sword and shield, youíll look like a rat when you possess a rat, but youíll still be armored and dealing damage with your sword. This means thereís no advantage to fighting in your ďmainĒ Imp form, but you regain some precious hit points when you revert to Impishness (this is something of a desperation move, however).

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    The ol' dress up page.

    Past this, however, youíre still doing the Roguelike thing, exploring randomly generated dungeons with random monsters and stuff in them. While the game generously lets you know when you have a Scroll of Identify, itís pretty vicious with the bad things you can randomly findóI probably had as many deaths due to trying a new potion than from monsters, for example. If thereís any weakness to the design, this is it: itís all pretty easy right until youíre doomed.

    While there is no save, of course, MidBoss take a cue from Fate and gives you a way to transfer one item from a deceased character to a new character. This helps much to take the edge off the fairly dull early levels of the gameómost Roguelikes have scary beginnings as your character is initially weak, but MidBossís possession mechanic makes the first few levels way too easy (as long as you donít test new potions!).

    Overall, MidBoss isnít that hard a Roguelike to beat once you figure out the two big tricks to the game, but there is a learning curve to finding out what creatures have the best (i.e., healing) abilities and how to exploit them as quickly as possible. If youíre looking for a quick dungeon crawling fix with something new in it, MidBoss delivers, even if it isnít particularly special otherwise.

    Overall Rating: 78.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: MidBoss review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Kanati's Avatar
      Kanati -
      Love me a good roguelike. I shall probably pick this one up.