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.
This was a surprisingly challenging level, but it probably has more to do with the low level of my characters than anything else. It’s not a bad time to revisit some of the older levels and see if I can get them levelled-up a little better so that they can take on these bosses with less resistance.
The main boss here, the Arekhon Guard, healed himself in-between rounds, which proved not necessarily to be frustrating, but it did raise a little concern from time-to-time, particularly as one or two of my own team dropped.
The completion of this level also unlocked the ‘Dark Campaign’, so hopefully that will expand my horizons a little bit in the coming weeks – though as I understand it, this requires a different set of characters – so I’m not sure that levelling up one set is going to make any difference to the others. Still, it’s all part of the journey!