From the Database of Home of the Underdogs
Copyright 2005, IvanDev
When I first downloaded this game, I was rather baffled to tell you the truth. Iter Vehemens ad Necem? Excuse me, tala svenska ocks? It did spark my interest however, having an interesting name is half the battle when luring potential players. Underdogs did say that this was a rogue-like, so I was rather interested in seeing how exactly does IVaN try to stand out from the crowd. I scroll to the frontpage, I see: “Fellow adventurer, turn back while you can! For here begins the roguelike Iter Vehemens ad Necem, a Violent Road to Death.” *KA-ZING* SOLD.
With rogue-likes, I’ve always been fascinated by all they ways you can die. In your regular game you die when you lose all your health and/or armor blaa blaa blaa retry already. But with games like IVaN, you can die out of decapitation, from poisoning, from a wand misfire, from a curse, or you can just die out of hunger. Or something more sinister, like getting blind by stepping into a trap, your sword turning to crumble and your cloak bursting into flames! And then suddenly your cute pet decides to go revolt against your evil ways and bites your toe, killing you with one damage.
More ways to die than to live, seems to be the common motto of roguelikes.
But IVaN, what is IVaN about? It has a funky name and funkier website. We shall start with the story, and it goes something like this. You are a slave. Working on banana plantation. Besides for the constant whip slashes on your back, you don’t yourself any need to go out in the caverns, until the owner approaches you. He gives you a letter, and tells you to make the trip to Attnam, and give the official complaint of the taxes to the High-Priest. You say “Oh-kay then.” and go unarmed in the dungeon. This is where IVaN starts, with your puppy (which is oddly named Kenny by default), and start to make the trip overseas. The game’s plot seems to turn into political backstabbing where you’re just a playpiece, but I frankly can’t tell much about it since I always died on the second dungeon to a landmine or another…
Landmines? Wait, what era this game is placed in again? As far as *I* can tell, it’s um… Heck if I knew, there are shining knights, tourists, slaves and kamikaze dwarfs and landmines. I’ve yet to see a gun, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one would pop into my hands. Other items include bananas (BANG! You zap a banana.), scrolls, holy books, glass bottles, sticks and most importantly… A cheap copy of Petrus’ right nut. (Petrus is the high-priest, one could wonder how exactly they made the copy…) The game has quite a lot of features, but more diversity and more different objects would be nice. Then again… THE EROTIC QUEER MUSHROOMS.
Okay, you won’t be seeing those ingame. Unless pink, dancing mushrooms counts as such. Hmm, questions. As you can see, the game is sort of light-hearted. At parts it’s all serious, but most of the time it keeps it’s tongue-in-the-cheek style. I’m all out for it! In fact, after getting attacked by 6 Kamikaze Dwarfs, you just have to love them.
But one of the things I love in IVaN is not its world but its skill progression. As you swing your weapons, read books, eat carrots, your stats will slowly increase. As does your weapon skills. Stick to blunt weapons and soon you’ll notice tremendous increase with them. Or you could try attacking blobs of smile with glass shards, or even with your own leg. Yes, it’s possible. You can also accidentally clone yourself, stab your clone for being annoying, and then cleverly proceed to eat your ex-clones’ heads. And after that gruesome act, your head will be covered in blood, dribbling slowly to the floor. Now I’m not *totally* sure if there is some sort of wicked grin underneath…
Character development in general is quite free, you aren’t given any classes where you can choose from, but you rather have to work on desired result by yourself. At least that’s how I think it works. For example, after you manage to deliver the letter, the priest gives you a quest. Go kill a meanie in a dungeon, and be free. But if you find a holy armor, he’ll also knight you! Or you can fetch a ring of polycontrol and warp yourself to necromancer or something similar for short period of time. (Eating a bunny resulted me to turn into a dark knight once… Kids, don’t eat cute bunnies.)
NPC interaction in general is quite limited, interacting with your teammates is basically chatting or giving simple orders, maybe even changing their equipment. Shopping is mainly done by picking the objects you want, then the shopkeeper approaches with an offer which you accept with Y or N. Selling is done by dropping stuff. Plot important things are done by just talking to the guy you’re supposed to. It works… But those NPC’s gets on your nerves after they block your way down, and refuse to let you pass! (Mistresses usually steal your kills too… and then chase the decapitated AND paniced zombies around with their whips flailing around. And then finally finishing their kill by eating the poor zombies head. In fact, I’m not sure who to sympathize here, the zombie or me…)
But alas, even with IVaN’s very strong good points, there’s always that greyer and bitter part. With IVaN, it’s the lack of different things to do. The starting dungeon gets rather boring after 100th time you finish it. And the world in general hasn’t got enough places, there aren’t any optional side-quests as far as I can tell, and well, more different skills and proper spell-casting would be nice. More diversity to the character itself, in other words. More and more and more of everything, to sum it up, and I’d be so happy!
IVaN is a good rogue-like, but the fans of ADOM and the like will probably find the lack of things to do daunting. In fact, people claim IVaN is quite light compared to such classic as NetHack, and they aren’t far from the truth. I still recommend this rogue-like to everyone, experienced veterans and for new players looking for a good introductory game to the world of rogue-likes. Actually, just get the darn thing and see for yourself. My words fail me to describe the unique experience it will offer.