NOTE: For 1.34(More Then A Remake) a short addition appended below this review. 1.33 review(To Cross the Borders) appended below this review. (Delaying the Ork Invasion is 1.32 review)
*****Delaying the Ork Invasion*****
Why I chose this title? Because at the release of this game, we all were leaning towards the thoughts that the game was doomed and orks would conquer the Northlands without our intervention. The game was a mess of bugs and a graphical parody to a degree where NPCs and surroundings would make you feel like in a zombie apocalypse version of Northlands. And furthermore the game used to lack many spells, mechanics and had several other gamebreakers which is probably the reason turned off many people. But...there is always a "but"...and this time it is a good "but".
The game evolved...while I am telling you its evolved it is in the level of a pokemon evolution where you would barely recognize what it was before. Crafty Studios perhaps hired a faery who touched the game with her magical wand exorcising a nasty demon who made the game look bad and broken. Or briefly, they worked their asses off during these months releasing several patches to reach this state. But before going into detail...some screenshots from my game:http://postimg.org/gallery/1zsvh03w/c4dcb1c8/
If you have the game, you will notice the major differences...if you don't have the game well you should get it while it is still on Christmas Sales, because the great leap forward which has started with 1.32 patch which is named as "Revised" will not stop till "Gold" version of the game. I presume you already looked at the screenshots. Here I will not go over change by change but mention the crucial changes which made me rather happy.
The Journey Map is in English and place names are in accordance with the original Blade of Destiny. Of course still there are no descriptions for Hjaldor Mountains and such, that is just a matter of adding a few place holders.
NPCs look good and NPCs with striped pants you can feel like you are really traversing Thorwalian towns. Also market days, opening/closing times of the shops as well as if you get caught cheating at a tavern you get punished by no entrance features integrated to the game over this time.
The new UI which provides more information to the people in a coherent way, as well as they are more versatile then the old UI which was closing a part of the main screen. Now you have a broader area of view where you can enjoy the good sights of the game.
Except Demon Summoning spells(which are not added) and a few more, most of the spells are fully functioning and ready to assist you in a dungeon as utility or perhaps to decimate your foes as fast as possible. After all, we could wait a little while longer to see a few stray/unimplemented spells.
I'm not even mentioning several optical improvements done to the environment letting screenshots talk for themselves. Though, one thing worth mentioning is the improved interiors of the buildings...especially my favourite is the inn which gave me a dark feeling and I could say I was definitely in backwater, gloomy Northlands of Aventuria.
There are also a good deal of fine tunings, bugfixes and balancings...but I'll cut to the chase. This game evolved truly and deserves a second chance. You will not regret it, especially when you buy it now at a bargain price.
Edit: Price advice was during Christmas Sale, but rest of the review is still valid since it features 1.32 patch. I will update the review, after every noticeable change.
*****To Cross the Borders*****
The anticipated 1.33 patch hit the Steam and I should say while there are still shortcomings here and there, it has been a solid improvement.
Though sadly we still have to be exposed to unpolished Battle Avatars and Sounds. This can be a major deterrent to some players. But for me it is a moment of "Eh..." since I have been more interested in content of the battles rather then nice looks. But I must point out, now spells are associated with different animations, that can be a good indication for the future polishing(One can keep hoping).
Now, one major striking point is that every temple has a different interior as well as the temple distribution on Hjaldings is accurate to the world description. So you'll find a good deal of Swafnir and Travia temples while there are no Praios or Boron temples.
About battle, there are now Battle Stances! Yes, they have finally found their way into the game. Aggressive, Balanced and Defensive. Depending on your tactical situation, now you can make use of those stances. For example, if you flanked somebody, this especially alleviates the issue where hitting is a problem. Going aggressive will increase your hit chance while reducing your parry chance, providing you more success. On the other hand, a hard pressed character can switch to defensive to hold off the enemy. Another plus is that now Necrophobia is important in battles. It'll make your characters skip a turn if undead is in the vicinity. (Necrophobia roll) Also weapon/monster re-balancing seems like it will make things quite different then before. One example is some animals are hitting twice. Also two spells Nekropathia and Abvenenum added to the game. The more, the merrier.
Heavy bugfixing as usual made the game stabler and Main Game+DLCs present a good deal of content. "For the Gods" add a number of challenging unique battles across 2 detailed dungeons and one town while "Ogredeath" adds several side quests spread through the world and one extra dungeon at Groenvelden.
Now, I should stress it again. If Battle Characters, Animations and Sounds can get an overhaul via a major patch, this game has the potential to be a true success. The game has already crossed the border of remake and now it should move forward with full force.
*****More Then A Remake*****
I wasn't expecting to update my review but surprisingly 1.34 patch hit Steam containing several additional encounters, bugfixes and fine-tunings to mechanics. Additionally some of the good mods (such as herb pouch) created by the dedicated community members of the game made formal appearance with this patch. The game still has the mediocre character models, but aside that in my eyes it has become more then a remake already.