Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul

9Creator of Rage of Mages Nival Interactive brings us Evil Islands, another RPG that throws in a little bit of strategy into the mix. You play a guy called Zak, who wakes up among ancient ruins on a strange island named Gipath not remembering who he is. From the outset, you must kill several creatures that block your path. You then encounter a bunch of villagers who call you “the Chosen,” discovering in the process that you have to do favors for them to get information about your origins. Soon it becomes painfully clear that you have to save these helpless people from evil.

Evil Islands takes place on 20 large three dimensional islands, each with their own theme, encompassing dozens of quests, many items to find, sell and buy, spells to learn, and many critters (hundreds, to be exact) to clobber into oblivion. There are also levels to gain, attributes to increase and skills to learn. Unsurprisingly, the game can be quite tough. Even though you may control up to three characters on your side, you may find yourself frequently overwhelmed; early in the gameplay, where your fighting abilities are scanty, everything can seem quite hopeless. A single critical hit from an adversary is often powerful enough to trigger immediate death if you (or your allies) are not at full health. Every time you kill a creature or complete a quest, you gain experience and receive points to spend on your offensive or defensive skills, such as weapons and spells.

The weapons you pick up in Evil Islands are pretty basic — swords, spears, hammers, axes, clubs, bows, and crossbows — and there is not a huge variety of spells either. However, blueprints that enable you to create your own weapons, armor, and spells are available. The resources you need to accomplish this frequently come from materials such as bone, fur, leather, metal, or stone you gather from creatures or from defeated enemies. (You may salvage some of these items from opponents’ armor and weapons.) So, even though there is nothing special about your predetermined fighting arsenal, you can expand it dramatically. Indeed, many of the weapons seem more powerful than the spells proper – the exact opposite of most RPG games such as Diablo.

12One interesting aspect of fighting is that you can target specific locations to strike like you could in Fallout 2. The combat becomes tougher as the game progresses, so, on the surface, such targeting becomes increasingly important as you progress. Because of the convenient inclusion of a pause feature in real-time combat, you are actually able to make some tactical decisions in this regard right in the middle of an intense battle. Unfortunately, due to the top-down perspective, rapid character movement, and small targets, you end up missing your opponents more often than you hit them.

Unusual for an RPG based more on action, Evil Islands actually relies on stealth more than once as a solution to combat. This rings especially true when fighting the more powerful foes. Being able to run, walk, sneak to get from place to place, it is possible to surprise unsuspecting foes or slip past them unnoticed. You can even steal from your enemies rather than kill them to get the resources you want. Often a direct frontal assault would result in complete failure.

Evil Islands definitely has some unusual and fascinating features. There’s a multiplayer mode which lets you organize parties and play quests in co-op mode. A good AI allow your characters to get around quite well. The interface works fine and, once you get past the game’s initial hurdles, the basic hack, slash and upgrade formula turns out to be surprisingly effective.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 700 MB HDD, Win95

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