From the Database of Home of the Underdogs
GAME DESIGNER:Erik Hermansen
GAME DEVELOPER:Caravel Games
GAME PUBLISHER:Caravel Games
Copyright 2005, Caravel Games
DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold is a wonderful sequel to Deadly Rooms of Death (or, more precisely, DROD: Architects’ Edition which is the freeware upgrade of the original), one of the most addictive and clever puzzle games ever. Before you read any further, here’s the beef: this game is even more addictive than its predecessor. I have been going to bed past 3 AM ever since I downloaded it, so if you value your sanity or productivity, don’t buy this game!
Now that I have done my surgeon’s general duty, let’s get on with convincing you why this is one of the best games ever made. The official blurb: “Beethro Budkin continues his beneathgoing adventures in our latest game. The fundamentals of gameplay remain unchanged, so fans of earlier DROD games will feel at home. We have vastly improved our graphics from the previous game, using high resolution 1024 x 768 display to show every nook and cranny in scrupulous detail. The philosophy of DROD‘s visual design is to put a large amount of information at your disposal on one screen, and the higher resolution definitely helps with that. Our tile-based rendering has been updated to depict elements with greater variety and flair. An ambitious story with quality voice acting now accompanies the puzzle-solving quest. Beethro enters the dungeon with his troublesome nephew Halph. Beethro discovers an arch-enemy early on and deals with this foe several times throughout the game. In Beethro’s shoes, you will meet characters that bring you help and harm. As the plot unfolds, you may discover the secret of Rooted Hold.”
If you have never played DROD before (and there is NO reason not to try that game – go download it now, it’s free), the basic gameplay of JtRH remains so intuitive that you will be able to start whacking roaches in minutes. Basically this is a turn-based puzzle game in the style of Chip’s Challenge: monsters move only when you move, and on each turn you can either swing your sword, or move one space. That’s all the controls there are to the game, but careful planning and near-perfect timing will be required to pass most levels. Your goal on is to exit each level, which comprises many rooms. Usually this involves killing all the monsters on that level.
JtRH takes all the best things about DROD and make them ten times better. The best addition in my opinion is the plot, which is integrated into the game and unfolds as you play. Similar to the “scripted events” in Half-Life, plot advancement in JtRH happens right in the game, so you are never distracted. Voice acting is very good, especially the voices of Halph, your naughty nephew who adds a fun layer to the game. You can get Halph to follow you, and send him to open a door by tapping it. Halph won’t disturb trapdoors, and monsters won’t attack him, which means he provides valuable help, and is the key to solving many levels. You also have a watch this time to see how many more turns it will take for roach queens to spawn new roaches, and the 1024×768 resolution makes the fascinating underground world of DROD come alive as never before.
Naturally, along with the goodies come even more devious enemies. The most annoying of these is the Slayer, who carries a hook, seeks you out by sending wisps, and – worst of all – cannot be killed. Since he can follow you from room to room, this forces you to plan your escape route while killing the other nasties. Another cool (cool in terms of concept, but annoying to deal with) are the stone golems, which, once you kill them, turn into rocks that you can’t climb over or move around. Which, of course, means you have to plan carefully on *where* you want the golems dead.
With a maddeningly addictive gameplay, over 350 rooms spanning 25 levels, a cool storyline, a level editor to make your own levels, and lots of secret rooms to discover, JtRH is a great puzzler that will keep you hooked for months on end. The game is worth much more than the $19 price tag suggests. Highly recommended, and a proud entrant into our Hall of Belated Fame.