Oh, Steam Sale. What a wonderful and terrible thing you are.
Wonderful because OMG I JUST BOUGHT THIS GAME FOR $0.89!! 90% OFF FTW!
Terrible because OH DAMN HOW MUCH MONEY DID I ACCIDENTALLY SPEND AND NOW I OWN TWENTY MORE GAMES ON TOP OF THE 50 I ALREADY HAVEN’T PLAYED.
In fact, thanks to the Steam Family Library Sharing feature that I just discovered this week, there are now 94 games in my Steam Library. 94 games. And the sale isn’t even over yet! I think I’ve actually touched maybe ten of them. And I think I’ve beaten a grand total of 2. In the entire three years that I’ve been on Steam.
That is an abysmal track record. So I have devised a PLAN. I have a hundred games, give or take about 6. (And tomorrow is the final day of the Steam sale, so I may end up with an even hundred by this time tomorrow.) I also have a pair of d10s. Let’s roll these bitches and play a random game. And hope I don’t get a 95-100, because then I’ll have to buy more games.
Oh, good, a 5! I won’t have to count very far down my list, either. Let’s see, one, two, three, four, five…aha!
Our game for tonight appears to be Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition. Its enhancements will sadly be lost on me, as I have never experienced the unenhanced edition. Or any edition. Which is surprising, really. I’m not sure how I managed to completely miss the Baldur’s Gate games. After all, I really love Dungeons and Dragons. As the ready availability of d10s on my desk can attest. (For the curious, I play a changeling pacifist healer cleric of Melora and Kord in my husband’s weekly D&D game. Her name is Daenerys Californication because we generally play under the influence of far too much alcohol.)
Other than the fact that Baldur’s Gate is somehow a D&D game, the only other thing that I know about it is that it somehow involves a miniature giant space hamster named Boo that a dude keeps as a pet and holds carefully in one hand for the entire game. So I’m kind of looking forward to it. I expect to be disappointed by the true extent of Boo’s role in this game, as I am betting it’s going to be a hell of a lot smaller than I would like.
Oh well, this will still be cool. Let’s go!
Oh snap, I’ve got options! I am assuming “Enhanced” translates to “Comes With All The Expansions.” So I’m just going to also assume that the first one here is the original game. To the Shadows of Amn
So after the game brings me up to speed with what I missed by not playing Baldur’s Gate 1 (apparently I am the offspring of the god of murder, which sounds pretty metal), I get to create a character! Yay, I love character creation.
The character creation system is pretty robust, and for someone unfamiliar with D&D, probably a confusing, clunky nightmare. I am not sure what edition of D&D this game’s mechanics are based upon (THACO? Wha??), but it’s definitely neither 3.5 nor 4E, the two editions I’ve played extensively. So I hope my character doesn’t end up being an ineffective mess.
I couldn’t resist playing a class that gets a tiny dragon as a pet! Nousagi here isn’t a very smart elf, but she knows she loves animals and hates demons! She shoots bows a lot and whacks things with big sticks. Sometimes she whacks people with two big sticks at once! She’s hardy and fairly pretty and has good common sense. She is moderately strong, and she is quite sneaky. She is kind and generally benevolent, but finds rules pesky and unnecessary. Hopefully she and her fairy dragon kick some demon ass!
Nousagi awakens inside a giant birdcage inside someone’s creepy dungeon. Some asshat with a vague British accent saunters over to her cage and starts throwing fireballs at her! That doesn’t seem very sporting, throwing fireballs at people in cages, now does it? He claims she will survive his “experiments” with no problem and that she is full of untapped power. Suddenly, a golem hurries in to warn his master that intruders approach. Aha, I bet Nousagi is about to get her ass rescued by the rest of her party.
Mr. Fireball makes himself scarce, and a woman named Imoen who claims to know Nousagi comes to free her from her prison. She says that she and Nousagi used to live near each other, and that they’ve been imprisoned by Mr. Fireball for an indeterminate amount of time. She implores her to hurry, but Nousagi is very curious and confused and asks a lot of questions. Imoen is clearly getting impatient, but answers them all readily enough. She thinks some assassins came after Mr. Fireball. She also tells Nousagi that there are two more allies trapped here and also where to find some gear they can all equip.
Controls are pretty straightforward; I click a party member, and then I click where I want them to go. I click Nousagi over to a loud man with a hilarious accent and anger problems named Minsc and Nousagi frees him from his cage.
Everyone keeps referencing characters I don’t know and things that clearly happened in the last game (I guess Minsc’s…girlfriend(?) was killed in front of him, poor guy), so I’m wondering if I should have bought that one, too, and played it first, but the dice told me to play Baldur’s Gate II, so play it I will.
Also, Minsc keeps talking about…BOO! It can only be Boo the Space Hamster. Minsc and Boo must be bros. Come be in my party forever, Minsc, and talk crazy to me.
The party gains 3000 experience for recruiting Minsc (and Boo!) and I send Nousagi over to meet Jaheira. I like how the game’s dialogue options are letting me roleplay Nousagi as having lost her memory to compensate for my having not played the first game. It’s a clever way to get around the direct sequel problem. Jaheira briefly explains to Nousagi how they know each other, then implores to be let out of her cage. Minsc just busted his ass out of his with his brute strength of crazy, so I call him over to try a similar tactic on Jaheira’s cage. No such luck. I need to find a key.
After some fucking around with the controls, I finally figure out that I can move my view around on the map by using the arrow keys. In a neighboring room, I see a bunch of weapons on a table, and I send my party over to gear up. The golem is standing by the table, which initially makes me nervous, but he makes no move to stop my intrepid adventurers, so I ignore him as I equip my people. Under the weapons, Nousagi finds a key! Maybe it will open Jaheira’s cage!
I discover I can select my entire party at once, and tell them all to move somewhere, so I send everyone back towards the cage. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of playing D&D, it’s never split the party. The key does indeed open the cage! Reuniting with Jaheira nets us another 3000 experience points. I call everyone back into the room with the golem to finish gearing up. A chest in the corner contains armor. I am pleasantly surprised to discover that everything I equip on my party members changes their appearance appropriately. I always appreciate some good dress up in my games.
After gearing up, I direct the party to continue through the door on the far side of the room. I expect the golem to attack them, but he just stands there stupidly. Maybe he needs his master to tell him what to do. No need to pick a fight with him, because in the hallway a Smoke Mephit attacks the party! I click him, and my party members make short work of him, automatically attacking the winged creature repeatedly until it is dead. 420 experience points are ours! I didn’t have to do very much in this first battle; I assume things will get more interesting as I level the party and they gain more exciting abilities.
We continue up the hallway, but the door at the end is locked. The mephit didn’t have a key, either. Hmm. The only other door I can find opens from the dungeon, and leads to a room containing a mysterious portal. The portal is also locked. Well, looks like it’s time to try murdering that golem and seeing if a key pops out of him like he’s some kind of evil clay pinata. I save first, though.
Attacking the golem…does nothing. He just stands there stupidly while my party’s weapons whiff by him ineffectually. Okay then. I must be missing something. Time to click on everything!
Oh wait, there’s a south door that I totally missed. Good job, me. The hallway here is littered with bodies. Some helpful narrative text informs me that these are the bodies of black-hooded thieves killed by magic. I send the party down the hallway, where we discover a room containing a glowing machine and a bunch of lightning mephits. There is a tense moment as the party is mobbed by continually spawning mephits, before I figure out that I can assign three party members to mephit murder and one party member to the task of turning off the mephit making machine. Victory is ours!
We continue onward into a large room full of enormous and baleful looking red crystals. A red guy with horns and a sword who is probably a demon introduces himself as Aataqah. His name makes me more certain that he’s probably a demon. He talks like he knows Nousagi, and then presents her with a slightly insane hypothetical situation: he invites her to imagine that she and a sibling were placed in adjacent cells in a dungeon. Each cell contains a magic button. If Nousagi presses her button, she dies, but her sibling goes free. If her sibling pushes the button, the sibling dies and Nousagi goes free. If they both push the buttons, they die. If one of them does not push a button after one hour, they both die. Nousagi says she would push her button, befitting her good alignment. Unsurprisingly, after she answers, the demon summons an ogre mage to attack the party!
Unfortunately, for all my determined clicking I am unable to get anyone to attack the mage, and it kills Nousagi in a few hits while I’m messing around with the controls. I am treated to an impressive CGI hand being disintegrated into bone, and then I’m kicked back to my last save, which is, of course, much farther back than I would have liked. I always forget to save often enough in games like this.
The second time through, I save right before the battle, and make quick work of that stupid ogre mage once I get my party to cooperate and actually attack the damn thing. My reward is some cryptic advice from the demon, who of course disappears. I suspect I will be seeing him as a boss fight eventually.
I save once more, then I discover that the little symbol that kind of looks like a millipede is in fact supposed to be an eyelid, and it lets my party take an extended rest, recovering hit points. This is the point that I checked the clock and realized that it was after 4am, and well past the time that I ought to be taking my own extended rest.
I really had fun with this game. The learning curve is clearly steep, especially as there is no tutorial to speak of, but I’m figuring things out. Next time I play this game, I’ll play it with my husband awake. He’s played this before, and I bet he can give me some pointers. I’d really like to keep playing this one. It seems like some good, dungeon-crawling fun. The graphics are a bit dated, I suppose, but still quite nice-looking. The voice acting is pretty good and the writing is excellent. I would like to read every hilarious thing that Minsc has to say.
Especially if it involves Boo.
I broke down and bought Baldur’s Gate 1.
Facebook friends kept telling me that I really had to play the first game to know what was going on, and it was really good, and hey, it was ALSO on sale, so I bought it.
I’m kind of glad I did, because I then discovered that I had inadvertently chosen one of the worst classes in the game. THEN I discovered that if I played a True Neutral caster, I could use Find Familiar to SUMMON A BUNNY RABBIT.
So after a lot of false starts, I have finally ended up with a True Neutral elven Wild Made with a pet bunny.
TOTALLY WORTH IT.