Review - Slayer (Lost Dungeon)

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Trev
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Review - Slayer (Lost Dungeon)

Post by Trev » Thu May 28, 2009 5:36 am

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In the battle of generic names the Japanese win out since (besides simply sounding cooler in my opinion) the latter title is more accurate. Lost Dungeon, aka Slayer, is a straight dungeon crawler, pure and simple. For any unfamiliar with that term here is a quick list of key elements ...

1.) Maze-like environment
2.) Monster battles (usually an occasional boss too)
3.) Treasure collecting
4.) Thin plot (trade off being greater customization)

Broad appeal lies in this game with rpg, adventure, and first-person fans being it’s main marks. An early release serves as explanation for most of it’s failings, but at the same time makes it’s triumphs that much more impressive. Let’s explore the something of a mixed bag called Slayer.

The opening movie lays the groundwork for this adventure, and is made all the more important by the absence of story (more on that in a bit) An adventurer enters a spooky castle to explore and do battle. Although the initial foe may be too much too early it serves to wow the gamer and wet his or her appetite. The forbidding music is effective, and the opening looks good also (although more early pc than 3DO) Fun to watch.

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Prior to the game getting under way you’ll notice menus … they certainly are not lacking, but don’t be taken aback (do be sure to keep the manual handy though :wink: ) You are given the option to essentially create a character from scratch (a feature disappointingly axed from the sequel) This is not only much deeper than any character creation options in games for that time, but more enjoyable also in my opinion. There are far too many variables to list but it’s doubtful you’ll be in want. Besides all the characteristics there are dozens of faces to select from as well (both male and female). The variety extends beyond the main lead too, as the “dungeon generation seed” guarantees assortment galore … an understatement I’m sure. Let’s just say you won’t be playing the same game twice (this was also axed in the sequel sadly) Some very good menu music that is quite pleasing on the ears plays as you tweak all the numerous options to customize your quest (in game tunes are just as good)

Earlier I mentioned the absence of story. By this I mean a complete and total lack thereof. Not even a tiny narrative ala Guardian War is present. A dissapointment to many? I’m sure it is, but frankly I was glad to be left to my own imagination rather than play through another clichéd plot that they teach in rpg basics 101. The lack of a hard and fast plot is a plus in my book. :)

Slayer sports what was a highly impressive 3d engine for the time, especially when you consider that it was 3DO’s first stab at the genre. It held up so well in fact, that subsequent first person games that graced the multiplayer were in many cases not as advanced. Not only did it move along at a quick pace, making many later releases feel rather pokey by comparison, but the sense of scope is excellent. You are able to look up and see a slime crawling on the ceiling, or glance down to view lava pits far below. You can even peer into windows and see activities taking place in the adjacent room. No feelings of claustrophobia here. Lighting is well done, and the game makes good use of textures. They are varied too, as you’ll see as you advance floors (eat your heart out Seal of the Pharoh)! The monsters did not impress me as much, but are still fairly top notch in looks (if not varied enough) and sure to please.
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A very hard game, Slayer has a challenge aimed squarely at the advanced player. It is one and done with your life (dissapointingly) so be sure to save early and often. The monsters are aggressive (though not necessarily the smartest lot) and their lurking nearby means you won’t be standing still for too long. There are also traps to contend with, although these can be toggled in the options. You’ll need to manage your inventory which is smaller than I had hoped for. And does it seem that a tape worm has infected our brave adventurer? The food bar always seems to be shrinking quicker than anticipated (even more so if you exercise the rest option) Again, keep moving!

The game borders on unduly challenging at times however thanks in part to decidedly second rate combat. Originally I thought this was due to over particular collision detection … I found myself annoyed as I attempted shot after shot with my weapons only to find that they failed to connect with the weak foe immediately in front of me. Come to find out after re-reading the manual, this is deliberate design! :shock:

The booklet portrays a fairly detailed method of determining combat success ... but after repeated plays I’m not convinced that it lives up to its promise. :? One of the biggest problems in my opinion is that your weapon doesn’t appear on screen (there are also unneccesary delays between uses, that I’ve found w/various ratings and characters) I think this gives the game a very dated feel (especially when other similar games were displaying weapons) and makes combat far less satisfying than it should be (not the smartest move for a hack n slash title when the hacking feels underdeveloped)

After a while I customized my monster numbers to few, my frustration growing with the combat. More time spent equals more precision naturally, but I never really feel comfortable and I’m guessing I’m not alone. I did tweak my methods (charged in for a quick shot and retreated for one) and had more success (“luck”?). But it's not a way I care to play, especially for a hack n slash dungeon crawler. I also saved more often (which is easy and quick) and while this didn’t really bother me, I can see how some might feel cheap needing to save so often. Overall, just not my style.

I still maintain that you have to be lined up nearly perfect for shots to connect too ... which I guess isn't neccesarily a bad thing if you are looking for a high challenge (I personally think the game already has more than enough in the way of challenge) Another 3DO game, Space Hulk, suffers a slight similarity with shots needing to hit center to be effective, but trust me Slayer is worse! I find it frustrating. :(

As long as I’m complaining, while I like the randomly generated dungeons quite a bit they do result in some hiccups. A couple examples are teleports that lead to nowhere and keys that open empty rooms. Occasionally too selections made are not fully honored (unselected monsters appearing for instance) Clever design is not always showing. Not unexpected, but still worth noting as a mild disappointment.
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To sum – Strong looks and sounds coupled with deep customization are great pros, dampened by the con of weak combat and occasionally minor flaws inherit to the ‘dungeon generator’. I am torn. Fans of the source material will surely lean in the favorable direction, and have (Slayer is one of the most reviewed 3DO games on the web, almost always positive) Not being a fan of it’s roots, it provides me no edge. Guess I’ll have to remain torn and say that Slayer is an average release overall. Despite it’s moments of near greatness, the reward is simply not worth the challenge ... to me. If you don’t already own a copy and wish to pick one up, do so in the 3DO Action Pak and add a few more games to your 3DO library in the process. And when the adventure bug bites and want to get lost in a world of fantasy, keep the pros and cons in mind. With proper expectations (and perhaps some nice Game Guru codes :P ) you’ll probably have a decent time in small gaming sessions. As for long term, well ... perhaps. After playing a few levels you should have a pretty good idea if Slayer is for you or not. :wink:

-Trev
Last edited by Trev on Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by 3DO Experience » Fri May 29, 2009 5:03 am

What happens when you use one of the teleports that lead to nowhere???
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Post by Trev » Fri May 29, 2009 2:18 pm

Have to teleport back to where you were ... it isn't a glitch in the strictest sense (thd new rooms are just empty w/no items or doorways) but is annoying nonetheless.

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Post by Trev » Fri Mar 02, 2012 5:59 am

After all the chat this game has been getting recently, I finally bumped my review of it ... complete w/pics and some slightly tweaked comments on the combat. I hope you all enjoy.

While I stand by most of my earlier complaints, I acknowledge that my observations lean more in the direction of a casual Slayer player (hey that rhymes!) ... let's hope we get another Slayer review from the perspective of someone who just beat it. (*hint hint*) :wink:
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Post by Martin III » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:03 am

Trev wrote:Have to teleport back to where you were ... it isn't a glitch in the strictest sense (thd new rooms are just empty w/no items or doorways) but is annoying nonetheless.
Not only is it not a glitch, in all likelihood it wasn't even unintended. Dungeon crawlers are labyrinthine by definition, so any representative of the genre which doesn't have a few dead ends is shooting below par.

Nice shots - I see you've fought a monster or two that I haven't stumbled across yet.

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Post by Trev » Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:36 am

Martin III wrote:
Trev wrote:Have to teleport back to where you were ... it isn't a glitch in the strictest sense (thd new rooms are just empty w/no items or doorways) but is annoying nonetheless.
Not only is it not a glitch, in all likelihood it wasn't even unintended. Dungeon crawlers are labyrinthine by definition, so any representative of the genre which doesn't have a few dead ends is shooting below par.

Nice shots - I see you've fought a monster or two that I haven't stumbled across yet.
I got most of these nice shots of 3DOKid's blog. I do tend to set my monster types to Bug though ... I should probably mix it up a bit more ... maybe I'd find other types easier to hit. :P

Thanks for the comments. I'll be sure to comment on your review when you post it. :wink:
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Post by 3DO Experience » Sun Mar 04, 2012 7:02 am

Screenshot sweetness!
Trev wrote: ... let's hope we get another Slayer review from the perspective of someone who just beat it. (*hint hint*) :wink:
Good idea. :wink:
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