Demise: Rise of the Ku’tan

An odd gem of a throwback, with some woes and doh’s.

12_1Demise – Rise of the Ku’Tan aims to promote gameplay over fancy visuals and audio, reminiscent of an age of RPGs that was much more low tech. Anyone who has played MUDs (Multi-User Dungeon or Domain) before will instantly see similarities in Demise, as the resulting game is essentially a graphical MUD. Lay out an incredibly massive dungeon with a superficial plot (an excuse to kill things) and an insane amount of leveling (999 max), and Demise is the result. To put it mildly, this is Might and Magic on crack, but whether that’s a good thing remains to be seen.

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that the central feature of Demise – it’s sheer size – is both a blessing and a curse. As you hack your way through literally thousands upon thousands of creatures, you’ll soon realize that you could spend months doing nothing but plodding through the depths of this dungeon. For players who are looking for a game that gives the most hours for your buck, there are few other titles that can compete with Demise, but there comes a point where you lose the motivation of doing the same thing over and over again. Hacking your way through a nearly endless dungeon is too repetitive, as the gameplay is relatively simple. Plus combat is automated, in that you automatically attack hostile creatures. It’s entirely possible to simply walk from room to room and let the game do all the work for you.

Aside from the repetitive nature of the gameplay, the early stages of the game will also deter a significant portion of the audience. For example, a new player may create his Saris Mage and head into the dungeon, and gradually works his way through the first few areas. As he’s heading through the dungeon, he has the misfortune of either failing to disarm a teleportation chest or he steps through a door and a teleport trap is right inside the entrance. He ends up one floor below where he was fighting, and the creatures are hard for him to kill.

6_1After slowly working his way back up to where he was, he sees that he is lost and doesn’t know how to get back to town, so he tries to backtrack through safe rooms. Out of mana and low on hitpoints, he sees what looks like a ladder down, and steps over the ledge to find that it isn’t actually a ladder, but a drop down, and the fall kills him. He loses the gold he’s collected and resurrection fails several times, depleting all his reserves in the bank. Additionally, he loses one constitution permanently. As any veteran player will state, the loss of gold and constitution is insignificant, but new players won’t know that.

So in short, Demise isn’t exactly a friendly game for new players, as the lack of immediate control makes it easy to die. In fact, the first few characters you make are all going to be scrapped, as you need to collect potions and tomes to max out your stats for a new character. Although it is hard to get past the first stages of the game, once you do the game gets much, much better. Unfortunately, some players will never make it that far. But as with the old Might and Magic games, the repetition is forgivable and even cathartic once you go into the endless dance of upgrading your character and collecting new stuff. In this regard, Demise wins.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Win95

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