As it turns out, you can only use your ‘borrow a minion off a friend’ once a day, and so with a whole roster full of woefully underpowered heroes, I elected to mix up the path a little and head into the Forbidden Valley.
I didn’t think there was anything special about this fight – it was fairly evenly matched and both sides lost a person or two (though, obviously, I still had some standing at the end!), but my main takeaway out of this whole encounter was that I had completely missed the auto advance button on the left hand side of the screen. So, instead of trying to find the best attack/defend option on each round, I can increase the speed to 4x, let it auto-play, and I believe it’s going quicker than I’ve ever been able to get through a game that didn’t use an auto-clicker or a few player-friendly enhancements!
It’s been a few days since I last opened up Age of Magic, so imagine my delight when I logged on and got bumped to level 19 straight away. Lucky me!
Back into the throng of the fight, and this was a level that wasn’t shy about introducing quite a few enemies into the mix. The main antagonist for this level was a floating demon-like creature called an ‘Arekhon Shadow’, who was big, nasty, and did a good job of taking the focus – and the damage – off the rest of the group.
Of course, the whole fight was made a lot easier given I ‘borrowed’ a Level 41 Roland from a ‘friend’!
Well, this was a surprise. A narrative weaved in the main combat beats of the level, which was actually a refreshing pace for Age of Magic – given that a lot of the story had been the colloquial window-dressing, with a light-touch intro that prefixed each level.
This one was all about the introduction to Kharannah, and it was a nice to see some interplay between the characters. Some were honoured – literally – to have her join the team, while others dismissed her as another magic fanatic.
If Age of Magic had this sort of interaction all the way through, I have to say it would make a much stronger game.
Success in this level, unsurprisingly, nets you Kharannah for your team – and in my session, she pretty much had an armful of upgrades and gear to apply to her from the beginning. I only had enough coin to boost her to around level 11 or 12, but that should be enough for the short-term, or at least enough to see how she plays and what dynamic she brings to the team.
The journey continues today with a stock-standard run in with a bunch of heavily armoured green dudes. Judging by how resiliant they were against my team (more on this in a second), it’s fair to say that this is normally a challenging encounter.
But while I was at the home screen, I noticed something. A friend request from someone I don’t know either personally or professionally, but let me tell you this – they probably saved my digital life.
Oh my goodness. I haven’t seen a loophole quite like this since I obtained the summoning bell in Bloodbourne and let all the more experienced players take out my bosses for me. With my ‘friend’s’ level thirty-something Roland, I saved up his attacks for one-hit, one-kills, and pretty much just humoured the rest.
Yes, it was as satisfying as it sounds.
And so, we kick-off the Dark Campaign, moreso because it was easier to just play the first mission rather than try and extricate myself from the pop-up tutorial dragon who insisted on teaching me how-and-where to play.
The enemies here start off at a bit of a higher level – around Level 14 or so – and the first level really just serves as a bit of an introduction to former Assassin, Sharazar (which immediately makes me think of the Pokemon, Charizard), and his pet raven, Harir.
The level itself wasn’t too complicated – but what I did particularly enjoy was the greater variety of attacks and moves. I didn’t even manage to get through them all in this round as I was too busy just checking out the new attacks – but there’s plenty of time, and plenty of opponents to defeat, so I’ll just persevere.
By the end of the level, you are told you officially ‘unlock’ Sharizar. This might prove useful if there’s a level where you can pick anyone off your roster, but I’m yet to determine how seperate the game keeps light and dark characters. I guess it would be the equivalent of whether there’d ever be a game that sees Yoda and Darth Vader team up to defeat the Wookies.
This was a tricky level as well as the previous, largely due to healing characters. This one introduced an antagonist called an ‘Eraser’, which took health away from my team, and then used it to heal his own team.
I’ve started a new strategy here that involves taking out the weaker enemies first. I figure in turn-based combat it’s better to be facing one full-health bad guy than four mid-health bad guys – after all, their own HP doesn’t necessarily impact on their attack rating, so even an enemy who is still standing – even on only one or two HP – can have devastating consequences if they land a hit.
The story here seems to focus on the pursuit of a staff, and while I’m still kind of maybe trying to get my head around the narrative, it seems that Roland is largely concerned about either getting to a staff before the demons do, or – if they’re referring to the staff he’s holding, then getting it to wherever he needs to quickly and quietly. I suspect there’ll be quite a few levels between now and whenever ‘the destination’ is in sight.
And so, we kick off Act 2. What I found interesting about this was that it was only one round – which made for a fairly quick encounter.
That being said, it was a nice warm up for what is to come. Enemies are certainly a ‘touch’ harder here – so this will be a world that is as much about balancing daily rewards and coins (and levelling) with the tactics of the game itself.
One of my favourite enemies in the game God of War is the Ancients, which are essentially creatures not dissimilar to this level’s ‘Last Guardian.’ He’s big and he has some sort of elemental vibe, but at the end of the day, he’s killable, just like anyone else.
With the battle all said and done, I reached the ending of Act I! Recognised by a delightful little spiel and some goodies to unlock with my new found wealth.
And so, our journey continues. Onward and upward to Act II!
The team goes head to head with ‘Abaddon’ in this round, but – for a change – it does not end up with you obtaining Abaddon for your hero roster, instead he is just ‘gone.’
Abaddon tickles that bad guy vibe that you need in a proper game. He’s big. He goes up against a red backdrop nicely. He has a big sword. And, perhaps most importantly, he has a supernatural affinity for fire. It took me a couple of rounds to kill him without any team loss, but I got it over the line, and did a mad dash to the end of the Act.
Next stop, the Fallen Lord.
Another new location, this one very red-and-glowy, but the combat was not all together difficult, and even a time-intensive battle is made easier with 4x speed on.
This level marks the penultimate battle on the Act I map, so it will soon be time to move location onto more robust enemies. It’s a good chance to try and flex my moves and naturally work my way up – but who has time and inclination for that when you can just burn through the lower levels.