Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Game Review - Dark Messiah of Might and Magic




Game Review - Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

Score +7/-5

Overview
In Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, you play as Sareth, an orphan destined to decide the fate of the world -- you will either keep demons locked away from the world, or free them to ravage it. Some of the backstory was told in the related turn-based strategy game Heroes of Might and Magic V, but left unresolved there.
This concept of demons held back by mystical forces is remarkably similar to the games Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

+ Combat is fast and furious, with hand-to-hand combat especially intense. First person games often have adversaries that have ridiculous staying power in the mid- to late- to provide a challenge for the player. Not so here. The mechanics available keep combat fast paced from start to finish. Special cinematic animations add to the visceral feel when you chop off limbs or grab someone from behind and stab them in the neck for an instant kill.
+ Stealth and fighting cleverly is supported as a mostly viable choice. You are at times practically encouraged to use cheap tactics against your opponents -- if you can discover them. Things which you expect to instantly kill someone -- like shooting them in the head and stabbing them in the neck typically work.
+ The artwork ranges from good to very good, especially if you can use hardware settings to exceed what the game is normally capable of.
+ The game is objective focussed and Skill Points are awarded for objectives completed. Killing everything doesn't help you, so Stealth is equally rewarded if you want to sneak past opponents.
+ The range of places you can run, jump, climb, crawl, and swim to is impressive. The level design encourages and rewards exploration. The ability to interact with objects in a reasonable way with practical results -- e.g., throwing barrels or making shelves collapse -- is also a nice feature to play with.
+ There are some very spectacular environments to see.
+ The story includes a compelling if simple reason if choose the "evil" route. More than simply hoping you will explore that, the story includes interactions and situations that evoke a range of emotional responses nudging you toward the "evil outcome" for reasons other than simply wanting to be "evil".

- The story / plot is itself quite short and straightforward. You unfortunately spend an unreasonable bulk of your time doing things completely unrelated to it except for the fact that you are looking for the exit to get from A to B.
- There are many skills you can develop, but they are not particulary well thought out. Many skills do very little or are practically useless compared to their cost and the availability of Skill Points in the game.
- Magic combat / playing a wizard is advertised in trailers but not really doable in-game due to how weak and restricted it is.
- The environment is implausibly stocked and dangerous. There are, for example, an extraordinary number of oil flasks with which to set foes alight, and racks of spikes you can kick or push an opponent into for an instant kill.
- In the late game, there are many potent magical treasures that are implausibly strewn about to make sure you are well-stocked.

Game Review - Stray Souls - A Dollhouse Story





Game Review - Stray Souls - A Dollhouse Story

Score: +2

Overview
Stray Souls: Dollhouse Story is a hidden object game set in a horror story. The player is quickly drawn into a surreal, haunted world and must find objects to help her complete tasks and overcome obstacles. More than most games, Stray Souls is a story driven adventure experience, more like watching a movie than playing a game.
Implausible elements such as complicated locking mechanisms are given plausibility by the warped, haunted version of the world. When the haunting is lifted, the action properly shifts back to the mundane. (Although this is less evident in the Stray Souls: Dollhouse Story Collector's Edition bonus story where you have highly implausible things such as jail cell doors installed backwards.)
The woven doll with the big zipper is clearly modelled after the dolls in the movie 9.

+ There are simple cinematics that nevertheless capture the horror-story atmosphere very well. Instead of the hidden object scenes and puzzles being the focus, the game firmly focusses on conveying the experience of the story, with the hidden object and puzzle components being supporting elements. The actions you take on behalf of the protagonist are reasonable and intuitive.
+ The hidden object scenes involve objects that are very much like just another piece of the scenery artwork (helped, of course, by the surreal look of the haunted locations). Nothing is outrageously sized too big or too small, or put in some implausible place -- both tricks that hidden object games sometimes use to increase the chaos you see and the difficulty of the game.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic Walkthrough and Hints


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Hints and Walkthroughs
This post indexes all our hints / walkthroughs for the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
The game is linear, so we will not have a walkthrough that babysits you through it. Instead, we will discuss aspects of the game where you have a lot of choices (e.g., skills), tricky situations, or there might be something you may have missed.
They are actually best read AFTER you've finished a particular chapter or if you are having trouble with one, as you may find a different and interesting approach.

Skills - Skill Points by Chapter and Recommendations on Skills

Walkthroughs by Chapter:
Prologue and Chapters 1-4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Epilogue

Cheat Codes (using the Developer's Console)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Epilogue


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Epilogue
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Epilogue +2 Skill Points, +2 Skill Points for helping Istvan (optional)

Area 1 - +2 Skill Points for helping Istvan (optional)

  • After descending the stairs and into the Necropolis, across from your position you can see a shelf with many sarcophaguses and a potion in an empty slot below them. If you jump to the ledge and continue along the ledge around to the right, you will be in a sniping position against some necromancers. The rafters below lead you to a magic mushroom.
  • To the left of the potion described above, on a lower ledge, there is an alcove with a chest. It requires the Burglary skill to open.
  • From the abyss, exit up the stairs facing the direction the statue overlooking the abyss is facing. Turn right to see a sarcophagus at an angle. Look behind it for a mushroom.
  • Room with undead cyclops - Check the ledges and around the pillar with a sarcophagus for mushrooms.

Area 2 - Lich Kings - +2 Skill Points for defeating the Lich Kings

Watch for any floor tiles that are raised -- They could be trap triggers.

  • There is a hole in the wall in the fire jet corridor.
  • First room with several vampire knights - There is a chest on top of a pillar. Requires Burglary to open. In the next room, look for ceiling wood beams and go up on the ledges for a sniping position and to access a room that you can't get to from the ground floor.
  • In the room with the four liches, if you helped Istvan, speak with the lich nearest to you -- the one dressed differently. Until you do, the others are not hostile. After you speak with him, he attacks the others and the others attack you and Istvan's father. When you kill the other three, Istvan's father also dies.

Area 3 - Crypt Shelves

When you enter, if you are quick, you can plant a Rope Arrow on the rafters high above to your right. Run-Jump onto the sarcophagus, then jump to grab the rope. Climb up and onto the ledge for a sniping position.

  • To the left of Lamontain's Crypt entrance, on the middle set of sarcophaguses, one of them sparkles as if there is a magic item to pick up. It is a book inside the sarcophagus and not accessible.
  • Lamontain's Crypt has a glowing square in the ground. It is a healing fountain, but harm you greatly (but won't kill you) unless you have purged Xana.
  • If you enter the Crypt and let the door close, some adversaries appear outside. Go up the rafters in Lamontain's Crypt and walk around the ledges to find a sniping position and a chest.

Area 4 - Skull of Shadows

Curiously, you can defeat Arantir and the bone dragon by running to stand between Arantir and the Altar. Block with the lightning shield. The bone dragon will vanish and Arantir's Sanctuary field will drop. Kill him quickly.

There are four endings depending on whether you kept Leanna or Xana, and whether you keep the Skull or give it to your father Kha-Beleth.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 9


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 9
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Chapter 9 - City of Flames - +12 Skill Points

Check all doors with door handles and keyholes. A few are unlocked, others need the Burglary skill. Only some count as Secret Locations (i.e., you are notified with a special message on the screen). If you don't have the Burglary, look for other openings, windows, or doors on upper balconies that might be reachable. Use your Telekinesis skill from afar to check those to see if they can be opened.

Part 1 - Find Percy - +2 Skill Points

  • When you emerge from the sewers and go up the stairs to the courtyard, there is a building with a window that has a platform in front and a wooden beam over it. Go into that window to access the attic. If you can attract the Ghouls, they will not try to climb the building to get at you on the platform.
  • At the bridge across the chasm, look for a small waterfall. It splashes down onto a ledge. Drop down to the ledge to find a dead soldier.
  • Near the same bridge/dead soldier, on the right side of the street, there is a half-burnt house with planks leading to the house across the street. If you are fast enough, this can let you avoid some fighting and snipe from above. Go across the planks to that house and enter by the window. Then drop down to the ground floor and go outside to find another dead soldier. Return to the house and either unbar the door to get to Percy, or use a Rope Arrow to climb back up to the second floor and go out the way you came in. 

Part 2 - Cyclops - +3 Skill Points for killing cyclops (optional)

  • Percy leads you outside to a small courtyard. The neighboring building is locked but you can climb up to the balcony and enter that way. Go to the ground floor to get the key to unlock the outer door and the two rooms inside the house.
  • Instead of going through the locked building, you can also enter the sewer, open the grate at the end (which lowers into a handy platform) and leap across the chasm to the sewer on the other side. Then, climb up the ladder there to emerge across the courtyard.
  • Sewer grate near the wagon across the courtyard leads to a sewer dead end with a magic mushroom.

Part 3 - Sanctuary of Ylath - +2 Skill Points for entering the Citadel sewers, +3 Skill Points for bathing in the Sanctuary of Ylath (optional)

If you bathe in the Sanctuary of Ylath, you will receive a bow, staff, and dagger of DragonBone. All the melee Dragon weapons kill zombies without needing adrenaline or setting them afire; only the Bow of the Dragonhorn will not (except in ways all bows normally can). When you leave, zombies will emerge from the graveyard to attack.

  • Percy leads you to a broken bridge. Once across the broken bridge, there is a building just on the right. With Burglary you can open the door. With two ropes -- One hanging from the balcony and another from the beams under the roof, you can climb up onto the balcony. The door there is static and cannot be opened, but being up there will trigger the ghoul encounter just ahead. From the balcony, you can lean over and fire at them without them being able to locate or reach you.
  • You will need to go up a chain to get to the next tier in the city. As you go up the ramp, look to your right to find a tree and some mushrooms near it. Further up the ramp and winding up is the sanctuary of Ylath.
  • Down the ramp, there is a mage and two soldiers who will shortly after be attacked by Ghouls. The grate on the ground can be opened by a stone button in the wall to the right. In the same coffin as the Staff of the Firelord is an Earthfire Shield which may be hard to see.
  • When you continue past the mage and two soldiers, off to the right is a door that leads to the next area. Ahead, the sidewalk would normally end except the wall has been broken down. Go through and turn left, and continue into a smashed-open house. Look behind the barrel. Climb upstairs to find a potion.
  • On your way to the house with the Lightning Shield and Master Thief's Outfit (area transition to a zombie alley and then meeting with Percy), climb over the right side of the stone bridge and follow a grassy ledge around a building.
  • In the house with the Lightning Shield and Master Thief's Outfit, there is a ladder leading into a pitch-dark attic.
  • Where you meet Percy after the zombies, there is a construction over the canal with strings of red pennants. The windows have ledges you can reach. Enter the building to find a chest.
  • Where Percy talks about raising the grille, there are three straw-covered sheds to the left. Jump up and go around the fencing to explore the grassy area behind.
  • Percy will enter a building. Go in and explore. The upstairs counts as a Secret Location.
Part 4 - Gatehouse - +2 Skill Points for killing the Pao Kai
You do not need the Ballista to kill the Pao Kai. Using a bow or melee if it closes to claw at you can work.
If you kill it before going up the stairs to properly trigger the Objective, you still get 2 Skill Points, but it will not be announced and you will not clear the Objective from your list.

  • At the start of this area, there are stairs up. Go up the crumbled stairs toward the torch and blood stain on the wall. There is a potion nearby.
  • When you exit the sewers to the wall face, follow the very narrow ledge that goes around the stairs up to the gatehouse.
  • In the entrance to the gatehouse, there are two baskets on the same chain. When you empty the one on the ground, the other will slowly lower. Anchor it down with logs first or it will rise again when you remove a couple of items.
Part 5 - Necropolis Entrance - +2 Skill Points, +3 Skill Points for killing Leanna (optional)

Leanna will attack you if you rescued her in Chapter 8 and have not purged Xana in the Sanctuary.
If you don't kill Leanna, you can still proceed down to the Necropolis and into the Epilogue chapter. From there, you can double back up here. If she was hostile, she will now stand around passively and not interact with you. The game proceeds as if you had killed Leanna and kept Xana.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 8


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 8
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Chapter 8 - In the House of Ashes - +6 Skill Points, +3 for killing the Giant Spider

The Giant Spider is very chaotic to fight in melee. It can be done, but it moves quickly and can bash you aside easily. Also, smaller spiders continuously spawn until the battle is over. Finally, the continuous poison breath means you are generally limited to just 5 Health unless you are free with Antidotes, Health Potions, and Mana Potions (for healing).
The safest way to take it out is to find where it can't go, and shoot it; at the same time limiting the direction from which the smaller spiders can come at you. The easiest position is at the entrance to the huge cave. The Giant Spider can still poison you with its breath, but poison cannot reduce your Health to less than 5. Even with a Rope Bow, you can just win by attrition. When it is dying, it will back away then collapse.

You can kill the Giant Spider and still not rescue Leanna. However, do NOT kill Leanna or leave her to die in this chapter. You can decide in Chapter 9, where you can get +3 Skill Points for either purging Xana or killing Leanna. If you kill her here or leave her here, you get nothing.
If you do rescue her, she gives you information about cleansing your demonic taint (and get rid of Xana). She must still survive to get to Chapter 9 and unlock the Sanctuary door for you. Even if you get the information here, if you kill her, the Sanctuary will not be accessible. You must keep either Xana or Leanna -- you cannot get rid of both.


  • In the room with the Black Orb key, the anatomy picture can be moved.
  • In the laboratory, look for rafters and go up. There are mushrooms near one of the ceiling vats.
  • In the laboratory, go down into the sewer through the square grates.
  • In the laboratory, one of the cell beds can be moved to reveal a cache.
  • In the room with the plate armor, there are some potions behind an anatomy picture leaning against the wall.
  • In the lecture hall past the hub where you can find Arantir's study and the passage to the spider lair, there are two dormitories. In one of them, there is a scroll under the bed.
  • In Arantir's study, the unlit wall torch on the left moves aside a shelf of books.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 7


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 7
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Chapter 7 - Fire in the Blood - +12 Skill Points

Any time before you recover your backpack, if you are not in Demon Form and you click the attack button, you will equip the EarthFire Sword and later a shield if you find one. However, you will not be able to pick up your backpack later on. Also, while you have this EarthFire Sword equipped, if you pick up a weapon the game will crash.

To avoid using Xana's demon powers, you can instead of going through the tunnels to your equipment, swim to the water wheel. Climb it to the very top then take the wall path to the archer's position. You will probably not be able to get by the archer, so quickly run and position yourself so that the archer has his back to the cliff edge, then kick him over. If you wait too long, he may go into the tunnel and keep backing up. After the archer, there are no more orcs between you and your equipment.

Part 1 - Orc Tunnels - +5 Skill Points


  • From the start position, dive into the water and swim to the left when you are facing both the corpse pile and the balcony from which the orc tossed the goblin in the initial cutscene.
  • Room with Smithy - One of the beds has something underneath. Attack the bed to destroy it.

Part 2 - Goblin Encampment

  • Water pit to the right of orc prisoner's cell.
  • Corridor to left of orc prisoner's cell has a door outline. Look for a squarish brick on the left side of the door.
  • Ruined tower has a chest in the water and an item against the wall (use telekinesis to grab).
  • Side path has 2 wooden beams over a hole. Use a Rope Arrow to go down.

Part 3 - Giant Worm - +3 Skill Points

Run and jump across the bridge. This can be really tricky if you don't have enough stamina for the big jumps.
At the other side, rest first to get your mana up, then go upstairs. When you kick down the planks and enter the room, the way will be sealed behind you and the giant worm will be in front. It will take bites at you, so if you do not have the EarthFire Shield or Lightning Shield, you are in big trouble if you have to linger for a while -- in most of the rooms/safe spots the worm can't bite you but will breathe poison. But in some, it can.
Sanctuary is a very good spell here as 20 seconds is more than enough time to rush from one safe spot to another. Poison will drain your health to 5, but your Mana will still regenerate, so at each safe spot, patiently wait until your Mana climbs up to 25+. Meanwhile, keep your shield up.
At this point, you can go right into the next room to collect some potions and a mushroom, or left toward the cave. If you run for either of these as soon as you stepped in, there is a chance you can avoid the worm or take only one bite. Otherwise, you need to have your back to the wall and block the worm's bites. Be careful of slopes as you put down your shield for any kind of drop or fall, no matter how slight.

Part 4 - Reservoir and Goblin Mine - +2 Skill Points

Lure the Facehuggers out by shooting arrows into the openings in the wall to get their attention. This brings them one at a time into the tunnel you start in, making it easier to kill them.

  • There are two sewer holes with wooden beams outside. One of them leads to a spider lair, then out onto a walkway. Go to the end of the walkway where the edge has crumbled, and look down to see a ledge. Go down that ledge and walk to another tunnel.
  • After flooding the tower to go up, look for a mushroom even higher up on a very narrow ledge. You can reach the ledge from the roof of the goblin platform.
  • From the Goblin platform looking out into the tower, there is a hole leading to a tunnel. One end opens out into the tower, the other into a small room.

Part 5 - Orc Storage Building

  • After the second trolley ride, follow the balcony all way around past the hut with the fireplace inside.
  • Return to the hut. Look for a beam to the right of hut to plant a Rope Arrow and access the roof. From there, enter the alcove.
  • Inside storage building, on a walkway behind a platform with many barrels, there is a protruding stone. When you enter the secret room, the ceiling will start to lower.
  • Behind the other platform with many barrels is a tunnel in the wall right above a tall rectangular crate.
  • In the long staircase, there is a hole in the wall on the right side.

Part 6 - Beach - +2 Skill Points when you leave this Chapter.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 6


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 6
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Chapter 6 - The Altar of the Skull - +8 Skill Points

In this level there are two types of opponents, both incredibly dangerous in hand to hand combat -- Ghouls and Zombies. Endurance and armor is nice, but having a bit of extra mana to be able to cast Sanctuary is a better safeguard as extra Health is easily brought down by Zombie poison spit, which you can rarely see coming (just keep your distance).
In both cases, look up for rafters or walkways from which you can snipe. Zombies cannot climb or spit up, and if you are patient you can take them down with a bow. Once you have a safe sniping position, you can basically attack with a bow until you get Adrenaline then auto-kill a creature.

In general, zombies have to be burned (e.g., fire spell or Earthfire Sword), Impaled (knocked down and impaled with a weapon, or lured to walk into a spike trap), attacked with a weapon under Adrenaline, or decapitated (for this, a neck or face shot seems to work better than a head shot).
The Block-Leaping Attack is good against Ghouls, but they are still difficult to deal with. Both Ghouls and Zombies can push you back quite a distance with their attacks.
I recommend that after Strength 2 (or Critical Hit 2, whichever route you went for superior weapons), you get Sanctuary and Magic Affinity 1 to comfortably cast it and still have Mana left over for a Heal spell. Magic Affinity 1 lets you use a Wizard Robe for an additional +10 Mana and Armor Class 1.
After Sanctuary, focus on Endurance. You will probably have enough points for Endurance 1, but you may wish to use the Wizard Robe for the +10 Mana instead of the Chainmail (+2 Armor Class). Endurance really comes into its own later when you get a lot more Health.

  • Large, fat green jars contain a potion.
  • Any rafters or upper platforms generally have a few items. Try to get up there as they make safe sniping platforms against zombies.
Part 1 - Entrance
  • In the chamber with the giant stone spider, there is an angled beam. Jump on it (this can take many tries as you typically overshoot and hop off the other side of the beam -- as soon as you're up, crouch to immediately stop your forward momentum) and walk up to the upper platform circling the walls of this room. There is a SoulDrinker.
  • If you use Telekinesis to grab the Moonsilk Crystal, you can then see faintly on the ground a Fire Trap in front of the sarcophagus.

Part 2 - Crypt 1 - Maiden's Eye - +1 Skill Points

  • Two of the square wall plates can be broken.
  • At the entrance to the chamber with the Maiden's Eye, the pillar in front has a chest on its upper platform.
  • In the crypt opened by the lever in the room with the Sword of the DragonClaw, there is a chest on top of the pillar of stacked stones. To get up onto the wooden beams, use Rope Arrow on the beam, drop down on the ledge formed by one of the slabs that form the pillar, then climb up. This is also a very good sniping position against the zombies.
  • In the room with the tomb of Darius Paperus, use Telekinesis to replace the fallen statue. This moves the wall of coffins aside.

Part 3 - Crypt 2 - Soul of the Crone - +1 Skill Points

To kill the Lich, use a bow on the zombies until you get Adrenaline, then headshot the lich. All the summoned zombies will also die. The lich has Freeze and Lightning spells.

Part 4 - Crypt 3 - Matron's Heart - +1 Skill Points

  • The heart is at the bottom of this area, in an open sarcophagus.
  • There is an open sarcophagus on a platform approximately to the left of where the bridge is broken.
  • There is a chest on the rafters.
  • Secret Area - On the bridge, there is a wide stair that goes down two flights onto a landing with a voodoo doll. After the first flight, turn right at the landing and jump down, then turn around to see an urn and a bow.

Part 5 - Altar of the Skull - +2 Skill Points for opening the Altar Room, +3 Skill Points for recovering the Skull

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 5


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapter 5
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Chapter 5 - The Temple of the Spider - +16 Skill Points

Part 1 - Temple Exterior - +2 Skill Points
  • Outside the temple, on the left side as you approach the temple there is a building that is inaccessible from the outside, but with a chest inside. When you drop into the hole to unlock the portcullis, there is another chamber where you can shoot a Rope Arrow to climb up into the inaccessible building.

Part 2 - Temple Interior and Pao-Kai - +3 Skill Points

The crushing wall trap can be triggered by a Goblin if they wander into it first (e.g., fleeing from you once you've hurt it enough). It triggers only once, so afterwards you can safely go through.

You can attract the Pao-Kai's attention by shooting at it with your bow. You can then duck under the portcullis, but if you are not close enough to the portcullis for the Pao-Kai to bite you, it may continue to hover outside and spit lightning instead of sticking its neck under the portcullis.

  • In the room with many statues, use Telekinesis to put the one on the floor back onto its pedestal to reveal a cached in the ground.
  • In the room where Xana first talks about not wanting to be under the statue when it falls, there is a supported wall column. Cut loose the supports and it falls across the room to form a ramp. Go up the ramp to find a chest and a lever to open a portcullis to access another area with a locked chest. The key to this chest is in the Spider Lair, on a dead orc at an underground stream.

Part 3 - Spider Lair - +1 Skill Point

Leanna tells you to explore a tunnel she reveals under the floor. If you proceed slowly, the rockfalls will finish ahead of you and expose a web-filled area. If you moved too quickly, you would have fallen in. Now, you can instead run and jump over, barely making it but able to climb up over the other side of the webbed area, completely bypassing the spider lair. You need to run far enough that you're on the piece of floor angled downward. If you jump before that, you will hit your head on the ceiling and fall straight down midway.
At this end, there is a hole in the wall which enters the same area. If you explore from this direction and don't go too close to the initial collapsed-floor area, you won't be swarmed by spiders, which are triggered by the Quest Autosave point near the collapsed-floor area.

Spiders are low on the ground, so swings need to be aimed low or you need a standing power attack, which cuts down all the way to the ground. Kicking them is also fairly good but takes stamina and you are often swarmed.
Their poison can only reduce your Health to 5. If it is 5 or less, you are not affected but the spider attacks can easily kill you at that low amount of health. Antidotes stop the health loss but does not recover any Health.

  • Secret Area - From the exit, head back in. Look for branches that mark the first right turn. Go in that passage and look for a tunnel up with branches overhead. Use a rope arrow to access the tunnel that has no webbing and a dead orc.
  • Stream - Look for an area with very little to no webbing. There is a drop that leads to a stream with a dead orc and a key. The key unlocks the chest with a dead man and a note on it. When you get to the cyclops encounter later, that same room has a portcullis that opens the portcullis that blocked your way across the ravine earlier. Travel back to the chest that way.
  • In the room with the exit from the spider lair and the tower, the wall opposite the spider's lair exit has a ledge. Use your rope bow to climb to it.
  • At the highest reachable area in the tower is an alcove with a chest and the Endless Quiver.
  • Past the tower is a small lake. Dive down to reach a chest. Except the Berry Juice, the items inside will float to the surface.
  • Past the lake, you will go by a hole in the wall opening out to the ravine. Look up and use your Rope Bow on the wooden beam. Climb up to grab a potion. You can alternatively continue on your way and you will come out on the other side of the bars in that alcove. Use Telekinesis to grab the potion from that position. There should be two potions here, but sometimes one (or possibly both) will fall into the ravine.

Part 4 - Goblin Camp and Cyclops - +1 Skill Point, +2 for defeating the Cyclops

The safest but probably most tedious way to kill the cyclops is with a bow -- shoot the face (not just the head), the only place it can be damaged. It will take a long time to weaken the Cyclops until it drops to its knees (or, if you've built up enough Adrenaline, one shot to the face should bring it to its knees). At that point it's head is more or less motionless. Shoot the eye to kill it.
If you insist on using magic, you can do the same with Flame Arrow.
Either way, it is safe to stand near the chest outside the room, or at the stone bridge across the room (use the nearby lever to raise the portcullis). Another sniping location is in the upstairs gallery -- From where you exit this level to the Orc Cliff Apartments, if you go the other way you will emerge upstairs in a short corridor with windows. There is a convenient fireplace nearby to ignite your arrows as well. This location is easier to shoot from because you can target the scalp of the Cyclops, which is also vulnerable.
If you want to melee it, wait for it to bend down with its two-handed crushing attack and block, then strike at the face. Be careful as the Cyclops can grab and throw you for 20 Health (if you are not wearing armor).
There are two rooms with coloured pools (red for Health, blue for Mana) to heal yourself.

  • The doors with spider locks here can be unlocked with a Spider Key from Aratrok (found much later on Aratrok).
  • There is a room with suspicious nozzles on the wall, and raised tiles. Avoid the tiles to avoid the trap. That same room has a hole in the wall leading to the neighbouring room.
  • Near the room with the dismembered goblin and empty chest, there is an empty pedestal. The statue is at the far end of the hall. Use telekinesis to replace it to open a cache in the floor.
  • In the same corridor where you replaced the statue, one end has some sand and debris. Look up to where you can use your Rope Bow to drop a line and climb up.

Part 4 - Orc Cliff Apartments - +2 Skill Points
  • Up the initial flight of stairs to where there are stacks of barrels on platforms, there is a boarded-up area nearby. Kick through to find a non-functional elevator and a battering ram. Use the battering ram to enter a Secret Area.
  • Look up the elevator shaft to see a cocooned body and a crack in the wall. When going up the elevator later, go into this Secret Area.
  • At the top of the second tower, if you look up there is a branch. Climb up with a rope from your Rope Bow.
  • Between the two towers is a rope bridge. The wall on the right has a narrow walkway. At one end is a Magic Mushroom. At the other end, use your Rope Bow to get out. Souldrinker is in the water in the second tower.

Part 5 - Aratrok - +3 Skill Points for placing the Shantiri Crystal and activating the Temple, +2 Skill Points for Defeating Aratrok.

Aratrok is very easily handled with Combat 3 -- Block with your shield (stops all damage), and Leaping Attack. Keep doing this until he is dead. You will probably want to hotkey a second shield in case your first one breaks, since blocking with a weapon does not wholly stop damage. Interestingly, a Leaping Attack with a Naga Silksword can fling Aratrok across the room to be smashed and killed against the far wall -- in one stroke. If he is flung by the force of the attack into one of the other orcs, they all attack.
The Bow of Winter's Breath (requires Archery 2) is also a good alternative. Once he's frozen, you can run to put some distance -- hopefully enough that you can freeze him again before he can engage you. Remeber that there is a long cooldown with the freezing effect of the Bow of Winter's Breath.
He cannot be Charmed but his allies in the room can. The others will probably kill your charmed orc before he can be useful, and there is a long cooldown on Charm.
Inferno is very hard to use as you can't see where anything is once it's on, and the mana drain is enormous. In any case, on Hard we tried it and it didn't kill anyone after burning through 110 Mana.

  • Hut with unstable floor - This is the one where you drop down to the main floor from the upper floor. There is an ominous creaking and cracking. If you proceed toward the chest and Plate Armor, you will start varying degrees of collapse. Instead, plant a series of Ropes to the ceiling and go from rope to rope to grab the treasure.
  • Hut with passage to the Elevator Controls - There is a Superior Naga Silksword embedded in the window near the severed orc arm.
  • Elevator Controls - The other path leads to a smithy where you can forge either another Long Sword or an Earthfire Sword with the Flamegold Bar from Menelag's ship. The Earthfire Sword does bonus damage against creatures vulnerable to fire, but it can still set other creatures alight occasionally, which will typically eventually kill them unless they are in water, in which case there is a chance the flames will go out. Some creatures are still dangerous while burning.
  • Once up the elevator to the chamber where you put the Shantiri Crystal, there is a path leading to an apartment. Outside the window of that apartment is a rope leading to another apartment.
  • The Spider Key from Aratrok opens other doors in the Goblin encampment upper floors.


Chapter 6 - The Altar of the Skull - +8 Skill Points

In this level there are two types of opponents, both incredibly dangerous in hand to hand combat -- Ghouls and Zombies. Endurance and armor is nice, but having a bit of extra mana to be able to cast Sanctuary is a better safeguard as extra Health is easily brought down by Zombie poison spit, which you can rarely see coming (just keep your distance).
In both cases, look up for rafters or walkways from which you can snipe. Zombies cannot climb or spit up, and if you are patient you can take them down with a bow. Once you have a safe sniping position, you can basically attack with a bow until you get Adrenaline then auto-kill a creature.

In general, zombies have to be burned (e.g., fire spell or Earthfire Sword), Impaled (knocked down and impaled with a weapon, or lured to walk into a spike trap), attacked with a weapon under Adrenaline, or decapitated (for this, a neck or face shot seems to work better than a head shot).
The Block-Leaping Attack is good against Ghouls, but they are still difficult to deal with. Both Ghouls and Zombies can push you back quite a distance with their attacks.
I recommend that after Strength 2 (or Critical Hit 2, whichever route you went for superior weapons), you get Sanctuary and Magic Affinity 1 to comfortably cast it and still have Mana left over for a Heal spell. Magic Affinity 1 lets you use a Wizard Robe for an additional +10 Mana and Armor Class 1.
After Sanctuary, focus on Endurance. You will probably have enough points for Endurance 1, but you may wish to use the Wizard Robe for the +10 Mana instead of the Chainmail (+2 Armor Class). Endurance really comes into its own later when you get a lot more Health.

  • Large, fat green jars contain a potion.
  • Any rafters or upper platforms generally have a few items. Try to get up there as they make safe sniping platforms against zombies.
Part 1 - Entrance
  • In the chamber with the giant stone spider, there is an angled beam. Jump on it (this can take many tries as you typically overshoot and hop off the other side of the beam -- as soon as you're up, crouch to immediately stop your forward momentum) and walk up to the upper platform circling the walls of this room. There is a SoulDrinker.
  • If you use Telekinesis to grab the Moonsilk Crystal, you can then see faintly on the ground a Fire Trap in front of the sarcophagus.

Part 2 - Crypt 1 - Maiden's Eye - +1 Skill Points

  • Two of the square wall plates can be broken.
  • At the entrance to the chamber with the Maiden's Eye, the pillar in front has a chest on its upper platform.
  • In the crypt opened by the lever in the room with the Sword of the DragonClaw, there is a chest on top of the pillar of stacked stones. To get up onto the wooden beams, use Rope Arrow on the beam, drop down on the ledge formed by one of the slabs that form the pillar, then climb up. This is also a very good sniping position against the zombies.
  • In the room with the tomb of Darius Paperus, use Telekinesis to replace the fallen statue. This moves the wall of coffins aside.

Part 3 - Crypt 2 - Soul of the Crone - +1 Skill Points

To kill the Lich, use a bow on the zombies until you get Adrenaline, then headshot the lich. All the summoned zombies will also die. The lich has Freeze and Lightning spells.

Part 4 - Crypt 3 - Matron's Heart - +1 Skill Points

  • The heart is at the bottom of this area, in an open sarcophagus.
  • There is an open sarcophagus on a platform approximately to the left of where the bridge is broken.
  • There is a chest on the rafters.
  • Secret Area - On the bridge, there is a wide stair that goes down two flights onto a landing with a voodoo doll. After the first flight, turn right at the landing and jump down, then turn around to see an urn and a bow.

Part 5 - Altar of the Skull - +2 Skill Points for opening the Altar Room, +3 Skill Points for recovering the Skull

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapters 1-4


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Walkthrough - Chapters 1-4
This post discusses skills in the Dark Messiah: Might & Magic single player campaign -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

Prologue - +1 Skill Point
You do not keep any items you find here.

Chapter 1 - The Gate of StoneHelm - +6 Skill Points
After siege:
  • Up the ladder against a building, across a plank. Open a window and enter a Secret Area.
  • In the only house that has a sign over the door. Inside it looks posh and airy, with white curtains. Go upstairs and find a wall lamp that can be activated to access a Secret Area.
  • In one of the buildings near the storehouse vigilantly guarded by a patrolling guard, there is a Combat Staff +2 (requires Melee 1) on an upper balcony. Like all magic items, it occasionally emits a white pulse of light. Nearby there is a straw-covered shed. Sprint to it and jump to climb up, then from there jump to the balcony. This will probably take a few tries.

Chapter 2 - The Gleam of a Cold Knife - +3 Skill Points, additional +1 Skill Point for finding Menelag's Cache
  • In the room to your right where you first enter the basement, there is a Ring of the Weaponmaster - Behind a wine cask, behind some barrels. As soon as you enter, one extra guard is added to the patrol outside the corridor.
  • Secret Area - In sandy cellar with two Blackguards, look for lone broken brick against a wall. Chest in secret area is trapped. You can open it safely with Telekinesis from a distance.
  • Rafters above candelabra room - From the library, access the wooden stairs up. At the first landing, there is a small door that leads out to the rafters.
  • Secret Area - Library corner sealed off by bookshelves - At the Area 2 exit, turn the wall light to reveal a doorway. Walk to the corner and drop down to the bookshelves, then down to the corner. There is a lever to move a bookshelf out of the way.
  • Love Letter - On the floor of the library. It describes a candelabra swapping procedure to reveal a cache in Menelag's study. Revealing the cache gives you 1 Skill Point. You don't have to have read the Letter first.
  • Tower on roof - Key is at the top of the first flight of stairs that led to the Library.

Chapter 3 - Dead Man's Trail - +7 Skill Points

On the rooftop chase, the first room with peasants and where the ghoul knocks down furniture in your way has a cabinet near the exit, on your left; it has a potion.
Later you will drop down into an attic with a high ceiling. Look around for ham on hooks (Food Rations).
On the ground far below the wooden scaffolding just before the area transition to the warehouse, there is an Axe (+3 damage, cannot block with just the weapon alone, cannot perform an impalement, Charge, or Leap Attack).
Except the axe, you can pick up the items mentioned above and still not lose track of the ghoul. To maximize your time, as soon as you are unfrozen at the end of Chapter 2, go after the ghoul immediately -- don't wait for Leanna to prompt you to do so.
After you have gone through the level transition to the warehouse area of this Chapter, you can double back and get the axe and the ham, but not the potion in the cabinet.

When you first arrive at the warehouse and look out the window, there is a Black Guard in the rear of the building, at a corner with a large crate; he laters passes through a wooden gate. Near that gate is a door barred from the inside. This door is later open when the Black Guards inside respond to your intrusion. Just a Berry Juice inside, however.

The easiest way to handle this area early on is to climb up the wall onto the walkway by going up the crate mentioned above, then up the wall on exposed bricks, then over the wooden railing. You can track the archer's location by watching his shadow moving along the wooden railing. Kill the lone archer and control the ladder to kick down anyone who comes at you. If they don't notice you, snipe them from above. Do NOT put a Fire Trap at the top of the ladder as a Black Guard at the base of the ladder will trigger it.

Black Guards on ladders CAN fire bows at you if you are to one side of the ladder.

  • House near sewer entrance - Can be lockpicked if you have the Burglary skill, but there is nothing significant inside except a Ring of the Phoenix. It is a one-use item and you can find another later anyway.
  • Warehouse - From the courtyard, if you climb up the chain that can let you jump onto the second floor, if you go up a bit you can see something flashing behind the barred-shut windows. On the second floor, if you look up, there are planks on which there is a corpse and a sword. You can grab these, but you cannot get the potions -- Use Telekinesis. You can also try throwing something at them to knock them down.
  • Basement - In the smithy, there is a boarded up section of wall. The passage inside is an excellent sniping position as enemies who do discover you shooting at them quickly lose sight of you again.


Chapter 4 - Across the Sea of Blood - +7 Skill Points

On Hard Difficulty, when you have to defend the ship, you cannot stay near the ship or just defend the gangplank -- The archers will kill Leanna. Also, if you are too far from where a Black Guard emerges, they will continue on to the ship and kill Leanna.
You can rush down into the ship to man a ballista, but enemies dodge quite well, and if they get by or if you can't shoot an archer, they will kill Leanna quite quickly.

  • Where you first meet Leanna, look above her. There is a dragon-logo crate on a shelf that is often missed.
  • Past the room with the caged goblins there is a long ladder leading to the upper deck. Nearby is a crate. Climb it an up the wooden platform. You will need the Flamegold Bar in Chapter 5 to forge the Earthfire Sword.
  • On the deck with the ballistae, the central storage area is locked. The key is downstairs in a small room with a hog's head on a dining table. Look around the walls for a key on a grey hook.
  • Just before the ship sails, Leanna will ask you to go with her into the anchor room. She will wait inside. Go instead to the bow to find the trapdoor now opened.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Skills and Character Builds


Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - Developer's Console
This post has information and commentary on Skills and Character Builds in Dark Messiah: Might & Magic -- PC version, regular edition, HARD Difficulty.
For an index of all our hints and walkthroughs for this game, click here.

I recommending getting the Heal spell as soon as possible. That said, unless you fight extraordinarily badly, Combat doesn't really get very hard until Chapter 5 and there is an excess of Healing Potions and Food Rations that you can probably get by without the Heal spell for a long time. Until Chapter 5, there are only two times when you are really swarmed by enemies -- Chapter 3 at the warehouse, and Chapter 4 when you have to defend the ship.
If you can survive without Heal until Chapter 7, attacking in your Demon Form recovers Health.
To fool around with various builds, I recommend using the Developer's Console to give yourself a bunch of skill points and experience them so you know what you would like to aim for.

Here are the Skill Points you can earn by Chapter:

ChapterPointsRunning Total
Prologue11
Chapter 167
Chapter 2411
Chapter 3718
Chapter 4725
Chapter 51641
Chapter 6849
Chapter 71261
Chapter 8970
Chapter 91484
Epilogue488

Our Character Skill order was...

Telekinesis
Heal
Combat 1-3
Strength 1-2
Alertness
Magic Affinity 1
Sanctuary
Stamina
Endurance 1-3
Critical Hit 1-2
Strength

Combat Skills

Melee - levels 1/2/3, cost 1/2/4
Because Mana recovers slowly and you don't always have a sniping position, you need to have some competence in melee combat no matter what. I recommend quickly getting Melee Combat and Strength to help dumb down combat. Typically you will need a mix of Power Attacks and kicking to win. With Melee skills, you can viably use your Flurry and still win. This is important because enemies (especially on Hard Difficulty) are remarkably good at not only dodging your Power Attacks but simultaneously returning one of their own.
If you focus on Melee, Strength, and Critical Hit, you can keep up with the game as at Chapter 5 you will be able to use any melee weapon you find even and still have points left over to have purchased the Heal spell.
Note that you can perform the full range of maneuvers only with a sword, dagger, or staff. Miscellaneous weapons like the Axe, Blacksmith's Hammer, Club, Hook, or Pickaxe cannot be used to block (you can still block if you have a shield) or perform maneuvers like Charge or Leap Attack. You also cannot impale an opponent with them. The special abilities also do not work with your Demon Form, which you get in Chapter 7.

Melee 1 gives you an unlimited chain of Flurry of Blows. It's hard to tell what this actually does, but theoretically there is a pause between your Flurries, during which time the enemy can get in a hit or kick. With this, you can fight a bit more safely and mindlessly by forcing your enemy to take the defensive. When they block, kick them and flurry again while they are exposed. By Chapter 5, with Melee 3 and Strength 2, you can basically flurry at Orcs to kill them because their shields are only 60 Durability (but the bucklers are 240) and can't take many hits before shattering. With a long weapon like the Orc Cleaver, you can even hit more than one target at a time if they are close together.

Melee 1 also gives you Charge, which is remarkably hard to use because enemies dodge very easily, and you often lose track of where they are during and after the attack. Even if they didn't dodge, the initial shield bash can push them out of the way of your follow-up weapon stroke. Try to either sneak up on them or use it in a corridor where they can't get out of the way. It is a two-part attack, and with sword and shield, there is still a good chance that only the initial shield bash will work.

Melee 2 gives you the critical ability to use Shields, which can completely stop any amount of damage and deduct it off your shield's durability -- Even a Cyclops bash. Later, when you get indestructible shields, you can basically stop any amount of damage. It will not, however, stop you from being poisoned by a spider even if you took no damage from the hit. If you are blocking and you issue a Kick command, you will instead perform a Shield Bash, which costs no Stamina to do.
The Lightning Shield (requires Melee 3) can stun target when you parry -- even mages who cast a Flame Arrow at you that you block with your shield!

Melee 2 gives you the Disarm ability, which can be tricky to use in the heat of combat and in any case opponents will try to pick up weapons when disarmed, or they can kick you.

Melee 3 gives you the chance to Break Parry with your Flurry of Blows. You will probably not notice this much if you are already using your Unlimited Flurry and kicking.

Melee 3 also gives you Leap Attack, which from now can replace kicking anyone down a ramp or stair and possibly every Power Attack you make -- It has astonishing backward force, able to fling opponents clear across a room for additional hitting-and-object damage. Short creatures like Goblins are very good at dodging this unless they were running forward.

Melee 3 also gives you Whirlwind, which is a dumbed down Adrenaline Power Attack. Normally, under Adrenaline, you need to Power Attack someone before your Adrenaline ticks down and you lose the edge. As soon as you connect with a Power Attack, your Adrenaline bar drops back to zero. But that one attack is typically a guaranteed kill against non-bosses. What Whirlwind does is essentially free you from having to aim a Power Attack fatality -- It just hits whoever is nearby.

Archery - levels 1/2/3, cost 1/2/4
At long range, arrows arc and it's hard to estimate what that arc will be. Both hits and near-misses can alert the enemy (but not always -- sometimes you will see Goblins oblivious to arrows sticking out of their clubs), resulting in melee in a hurry anyway. If you have good concealment and a sniping position, it doesn't matter so much whether you have a good bow or not because you can remain hidden or remain inaccessible to melee and use attrition.
If you don't have a sniping position, it still won't matter whether you have a good bow because you'll have alerted other nearby enemies and be in melee after your first shot (it takes a remarkably long time to switch to your melee weapon, so if you don't switch right away, you'll be giving your enemies a free Power Attack at you).
I recommend delaying getting Archery until there is a bow you really want to consistently use. Instead, sneak up to a reasonable distance where there won't be any noticeable arrow arcing and go for shots to the head for an instant kill against an unaware opponent with even your basic Short Bow.

Archery 1 gives you Eagle Eye, the ability to Zoom in. It helps when going for short-range head shots, but at longer range you still need to deal with arrow arcing due to gravity.

Archery 2 negates the bow sway effect when you notch a bow and the crosshair wanders until you steady your grip. If you use the Rope Bow in combat (+1 damage instead of +2 for the basic Short Bow), you not only get unlimited shots, but after the first arrow is notched the bow sway is gone and notching subsequent arrows do NOT result in new bow sway. You cannot, however, get fire arrows with the Rope Bow the way you can with a regular bow by pointing it at a fire.
In late Chapter 5, there is a Bow of Winter's Breath (requires Archery 2) that can be interesting to use because it freezes an opponent, just like the Freeze spell.

Archery 3 gives you a faster fire rate. You really still need Strength to increase the damage per shot for faster kills since you cannot block with a bow, and if you kick or are hit, you have to reload your bow. Useless if you are swarmed, of moderate use in one-on-one if you can keep your distance. Also useless if you have a good sniping position because you have all the time in the world to kill your enemy.
In late Chapter 6, there is a Bow of Fiery Rage (requires Archery 3) which gives fire damage and is another interesting bow to use as it can help you set fire to oil flasks and zombies.

Strength - levels 1/2/3, cost 6/8/10
This gives you reliable damage with your attacks, including ranged attacks. You need Strength 2 for Orc Cleavers and the Earthfire Sword in late Chapter 5, and Strength 3 for the Souldrinker, available slightly earlier than the Earthfire Sword. If you're giving the Souldrinker a pass, then the next good Sword that needs Strength 3 is the Sword of the DragonClaw, which you can't use until Chapter 9.
For only +1 more damage, Strength 2 seems to cost a lot at 8 Skill Points, but it lets you use some really good weapons you can get in Chapter 5 where you can first get Strength 2 -- The Orc Cleaver and the Earthfire Sword. The Earthfire Sword is especially useful because if you set a creature alight, it will die in short order no matter how much damage you had done to it; and setting a zombie on fire is one of the ways to permanently kill it.
Defer getting Strength 3 -- Save up 10 points and try out the Souldrinker before deciding if you want to invest those points right away. An additional +3 damage is useful all around, but you may have other skill priorities before then.

Critical Hit - levels 1/2, cost 6/8
This is available at the same time as Strength. In melee it is less reliable as it applies only to Power Attacks and then only a fraction of the time. However, an early advantage over Strength is that it gives you access to better Bows even if you don't have the Archery skill (including the Elven Bow, one of the best bows in the game), and it applies to all bow attacks.
The Elven Bow is also interesting because it comes with a sight -- If you normally play without the crosshair for extra realism, this bow has a built-in crosshair.
The more interesting swords require Strength. With Critical Hit, you are capped at the Superior Naga Silksword. It's fairly good on its own and you can get it fairly early in Chapter 5, but it is also one of very few weapons that takes advantage of the Critical Hit mechanic. With every other weapon, you are relying on the small percentiles you get with this skill.
To maximize your fighting ability, I would take Critical Strike at some point, but later in the game unless you use bows a lot.

Adrenaline - cost 12
This costs a lot of Skill Points and is a long way down the skill tree. If you focus on Combat Skills and short-cut by taking Critical Hit instead of Strength, you can see it in Chapter 5. But whether you find it worthwhile or not is debatable. Adrenaline builds when you score hits with anything, and slowly ticks down. When you score a hit with a spell, bow, or melee power attack under the effect of Adrenaline, it is used up and you get a spectacular effect with your hit. Against non-bosses, this is generally something immediately fatal. So that is the net effect of Adrenaline -- You get to kill something immediately. Not a boss, and probably something that's half-dead anyway if you were in combat with it. This Skill lets you have two kills instead of one but doesn't really help you accumulate it or retain it. I recommend you first focus on fundamentals and get this much later -- Helping you fight better or smarter.

Magic Skills

Magic costs a lot and there isn't a reliable source of Mana Potions. Your cheapest attack (Fire Bolt) is easily dodged by the opponent, more so than arrows because it travels more slowly. At best, magic is a secondary attack unless you have a lot of Mana Potions because they cost a lot to cast.
That said, there are interesting strategies you can try if you have time on your side to regenerate your Mana. Each spell has its unique advantages and disadvantages, and if you use them right, they can be very useful. The trick is to know when to use them for maximum effect.
To make playing a combat mage more viable, you could also speed up your natural Mana Regeneration with the Developer's Console "mm_player_time_to_add_mana" command. Enter this command and an integer; entering 0 for the integer sets your Mana to replenish entirely instantly.

Dark Vision - character starts with this spell; 0 Mana to cast
This spell gives you extreme light amplification and you see everything in shades of blue and white.

Flame Arrow - cost 1, 4 Mana to cast
This spell is fast to cast and you can put out several quickly, but to aim it you need to hold the attack button down -- Which means you can't pump them out rapidly. But if you don't aim, enemies can dodge this very easily.
It can set things afire, so if you hit someone with an oil jar and then hit them with Flame Arrow, they are as good as dead.

Fire Trap - cost 2, 15 Mana to cast
If you have time on your side, you can lay down up to four traps (the maximum; after that, the earliest trap you laid is replaced by the latest one). Against tough opponents you can lay them down on top of each other -- and on Hard Difficulty, you need to do this. Damage appears to be somewhat random, so two traps are the minimum if you want to guarantee killing anything.
It's possible to use this in combat, but the range is short, there is a slight delay before it explodes when you cast it under someone, and a very long delay before you can cast it again.
It must be cast on the ground and not on walls or ceilings. It is triggered by proximity to its (X,Y) coordinate -- that is, if you cast it on a balcony, someone walking underneath can trigger it. It detonates with an area effect blast that can hurt you.
You can manually trigger it by throwing an object onto it.
One use of Fire Trap is to secure a defensible position and thin the opposition coming at you, especially if you know where they'll be coming from. Essentially, if you have time to lay the traps, you are guaranteeing yourself up to four solid hits against them. If only one or two are coming, they are as good as dead. I would still recommend being competent in combat first however, since you will not always have the luxury of time to prepare traps since encounters are frequently scripted.
Since it costs 15 Mana, if you have the Ring of Arcane Brilliance (+10 Mana), even with no points into Magic Affinity you can cast this spell twice before having to wait to regenerate your Mana.
The usefulness of Fire Trap diminishes in Chapter 5+ when enemies like Orcs can survive two, possibly three Fire Traps if they are not set afire.

Freeze - cost 3, 15 Mana to cast
This spell casts quite quickly, but the cooldown time (time before you can cast it again) is enormous. You can basically have only one freeze effect active. A frozen opponent is not necessarily vulnerable to an impale or instant kill as if an unaware opponent. For an impale, you still need to knock them down first.

Fire Ball - cost 7, 8 Mana to cast
Slow to cast, but like Flame Arrow, you can direct it by holding down the attack button. The blast can hurt you. It knocks enemies down, which can further slow them down, but unless the area is very tight, you are unlikely to keep them from swarming you with repeated casting of this spell.
If you have a LOT of time, it could be interesting to set up a kill zone with oil splashed all over the area first.
One thing Fire Ball is good at is killing flying creatures because you can direct its flight to chase them -- and flying creatures dodge very quickly, typically able to dodge bow or ballista fire unless you project correctly where they are moving to.

Lightning - cost 7, 8 Mana to cast
This spell is very slow to cast, it travels quite slowly, and the damage is very low for the Mana cost and where it shows up on the Combat Magic skill tree. However, under the right circumstances, you can do a lot with it -- It damages every enemy it goes through, and you can bounce it off a wall once -- theoretically to get a second hit on the same enemy.

Inferno - cost 10, 20+ Mana to cast
You get a flamethrower effect that covers up a lot of your screen. Theoretically excellent in tight quarters where you can garden hose everyone. The initial cost is 20 Mana, which also gives you a few seconds of burn. You can thereafter sustain it, but the Mana cost is astounding -- maybe 5 Mana per second -- but even burning through a total of 100 Mana might not be enough to kill an orc or zombie (although it will probably set them afire, which will ultimately kill them). Range is quite short, and because it takes up so much of your screen, you will probably have lost sight of the enemy and have to turn it off to get your bearings.
Hard to use compared to the Mana cost and Skill Point cost, but if you have Mana Potions to burn and under the right conditions (e.g., a corridor), it can be devastating.

Telekinesis - cost 1
For some secrets (replacing statues on pedestals in Chapter 5), this spell is mandatory. It also lets you pick up and move various things that you cannot normally do so. For example, it can grab a dead bird, which you can't grab by hand.

Heal - cost 3, 10 Mana to cast
Restores 15 Health over about 2 seconds. Negligible cooldown time, and you can cast it without having to ready the spell -- you just hotkey it and use it like a potion.

Charm - cost 3, 15 Mana to cast, lasts 30 seconds
This spell has a rather short range and a very long cooldown period. Basically, you can only have one target Charmed at any one time. Don't expect them to actually kill anything for you, however. Great if they are coming at you in a corridor since your temporary ally will then block everyone behind him.

Sanctuary - cost 7, 25 Mana to cast, lasts 20 seconds)
This spell gives you 20 seconds of invincibility for 20 seconds, which may be just enough time to get the edge over your opponents or run away to a better or safer location. It costs 25 Mana to cast, so the Ring of Arcane Brilliance (available in Chapter 2) will be required if you haven't invested any points in increasing your Mana.
Overall, I would consider this spell a bonus to have and not something to depend upon. You should be fighting competently or cleverly, and save this for emergencies. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic has a ridiculously dangerous environment (e.g., instant-kill spiked panels everywhere) to allow for smart fighting and characters that are not straight-up combat builds.

Weaken - cost 10, 15 Mana to cast
The effect is temporary. Best used under Adrenaline because you can shrink down and walk over or kick (squash) an opponent.

Miscellaneous Skills

Stamina - cost 1
Take this when you are going for Endurance. You will probably not need it before then, although if you like kicking a ridiculous amount, then having more Stamina helps.

Endurance - levels 1/2/3, cost 4/7/10
If you are good in combat and able to deal with opponents dodging, then you may want to consider getting the Sanctuary spell first instead of Endurance to wear armor. Chain Mail (requiring Endurance 1) is available in Chapter 3, and Plate Armor (requiring Endurance 2) is available late-middle in Chapter 5.
Sanctuary is an interesting alternative because you've probably already gotten the Heal spell early and it is only 7 skill points more for about 20 seconds of invulnerability.

Vitality - cost 12
This is roughly the same as wearing a Ring of Regeneration -- that is, it works very slowly. If you have the Heal spell, you will probably accumulate an excess of healing potions for emergencies. And outside of combat, you can switch out whatever ring you are wearing for the Ring of Regeneration or simply wait for your Mana to recharge and cast Heal on yourself. At 12 skill points, it is pretty steep considering the alternatives. I would delay getting this.

Poison Resistance - cost 6
Poison Resistance will not protect you from losing all but 5 Health Points. All it really does is slow down the Health loss, which is normally about 3 per second. You could probably do better if you let your health tick down to 5, let the poison expire, and then quickly cast Heal or drink a potion.

Alertness - cost 1
Almost all the secrets are accessible without a sixth sense. You really need to just explore and try things out. Most of the secrets are locations anyway, and won't show up in blue -- instead, you just need to explore where you can go and look around.
That said, if you want more Mana for magic, you need to take this anyway.

Magic Affinity - levels 1/2/3, cost 2/5/10
Increases your Mana Reserve. Even for a warrior, this can be handy if for no other reason than to be able to cast Heal or Sanctuary more often.

Mana Regeneration - cost 12
Doubles your Mana Regeneration. Useful if you keep burning through Mana Potions by casting a lot of spells. If you find yourself with a large reserve of Mana Potions, you might want to skip this skill since out of combat you generally have all the time you want to let your Mana normally regenerate.

Burglar - cost 8
There are two skills unlocked for a whopping 8 Skill Points. Unlocking Doors is useful in very rare situations where keys simply don't exist for the lock. Otherwise, you can always look for a key. Quest critical locations tend to be well guarded so chances are you'll have to fight your way through the key holder or key location anyway.
The skill to Detect Traps helps to be prepared for traps, but often you need to get through anyway, and there is always a way. Play smart and save 8 Skill Points.

Stealth - levels 1/2/3, cost 2/4/10
The abilities unlocked here sound good, but in practice, Stealth is very hard for two main reasons.
First, your Stealth indicator doesn't tell you how well an enemy can see you. Depending on your actual cover versus their line of sight, it can be completely incorrect. It is better to use instinct and try to keep completely behind their line of sight.
Also, you can use the ability to lean to the left or right. This lets you stand completely behind an obstacle (e.g., next to a window) and lean over to look or even shoot your bow (e.g., standing next to the window, you can't look out of it; lean over, and you can). Even though by leaning over you can see the enemy, they almost ways cannot see you even if you stay leaned over for a long time or if the game has calculated your concealment to be zero (e.g., you are standing outside a building and looking into it through a window).
Second, the Backstab ability given to you by Stealth is great because it is fatal if you pull it off, but if you can get that close you might as well stand off a bit and shoot them in the head for an instant kill instead of risking detection. In both cases, these instant kills only work if the enemy is still unaware of you, which can be tricky to do as enemies like to look around even when standing still. What Backstab has over a head shot is that it doesn't need to actually hit the head. When the enemy moves or looks around, you could miss your head shot and hit somewhere non-fatal instead.
Overall, I recommend ignoring the Stealth skill and focusing first on survivability in open combat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Battle for Middle Earth 2 - Rise of the Witch-King - Epilogue - Fall of Angmar



Battle for Middle Earth II - Rise of the Witch -King - Epilogue - Fall of Angmar
This is a hint/walkthrough post for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch-King. You can find an index of all our Battle for Middle Earth II posts here.

This is an easy mission if you proceed slowly and let your heroes take point and heal. The first stage consists of basically holding ground and finding the enemy heroes and their clumps of troops. Snow trolls come at you, but it is nothing you can't handle with just your heroes, possibly with one or two battalions of archers.
You can build any number of fortresses you like, but you can advance quite deeply before building one. Just have healing wells to keep your troop numbers up.

Once you build your first fortress, recycle your pikemen and archers into Lindon Horse Archers so that you are not vulnerable to tramples, and can counter-trample with devastating numbers.
There are only two trebuchets at the outer walls of Angmar, so send your heroes to take them out. Retreat them when the enemy comes out to let your archers assist, then go back to take out the trebuchets before you bring in your own. Destroy the tower defenses, but leave the gates for now. Box in Angmar by planting a full fortress outside each gate before cautiously advancing.
If you can, draw out the Witch-King to either fight alone or near one of your fortresses, and hit him with all your ranged troops -- you only need to kill him to win. He does have an area-effect melee attack, so try not to engage him with any non-hero units in melee.

Battle for Middle Earth 2 - Rise of the Witch-King - Mission 8 - Fornost



Battle for Middle Earth II - Rise of the Witch -King - Mission 8 - Fornost
This is a hint/walkthrough post for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch-King. You can find an index of all our Battle for Middle Earth II posts here.

You can earn enough Power Points in this mission to get all Angmar powers provided you have also maximized your Power Points during the previous missions. Try to start with 50 Power Points here so you can get the Tier 4 powers right away.

You can only build one fortress -- the one pre-built for you, so be patient and accumulate resources to build walls. Build farms at the south side only. Any further ahead and trebuchets come out at you. You need to find their siege works and destroy them or you will have a hard time advancing.
Start by holding ground and watching how the enemy sends initial attacks against you -- horsemen on the west side, mixed infantry on the east side, and trebuchets down the middle (which tend to go for your fortress, so you can position archers slightly to the side to shoot them down before they do too much damage). Position archers and arrow towers to protect the vulnerable resources until you can hold them without really paying attention to them or losing troops.

Next, clear the Fornost walls of trebuchets, using a mix of the Witch-King's Sanctum power and your Avalanche power. Once they are clear, send in the Troll Stone Throwers to destroy all the arrow towers -- but don't advance too far yet.
Hit their troop producing buildings -- especially siegeworks -- but don't advance too far into the enemy territory and don't go down the center to their main gate or destroy it. You may not be ready for the counterattack.

Once you've thinned their ability to produce troops, concentrate on the east side and penetrate as deeply as you can all the way to the northeast, where the siegeworks are (in the fog of war not yet revealed until you pass the inner wall).
Instead of committing troops, you may want to have them in a support role and use any summons you have from your Angmar powers. You can, for example, clear the inner wall of wall defenses with your powers and artillery, then send in the hardy Shade of Wolf. When the fog of war is revealed, call down the other summons in the midst of enemy troops vulnerable to their attacks. Strive to wipe out all the siegeworks there.

If the trebuchets stop or slow to a manageable quantity, you can advance to the next phase, which is to build a lot of walls lined with mostly trebuchets of your own. The reason you probably don't want to do this too early is because their trebuchets have a longer range than those on your walls.
Once you hit the main gate, the enemy will pour out and come straight south to hit your fortress. If you are ready with the walls, you can advance with them to hold ground (remember that you do not need to send out any builders to build walls -- you can start from a hub at your fortress and expand from any wall hub).
Keep building wall defenses until you can hold your walls against enemy counter-attacks.

Finally, with your walls handling the attacks from Fornost, go for the citadel. Using your forces, advance down one of the sides and hit the citadel from behind to win.

Battle for Middle Earth 2 - Rise of the Witch-King - Mission 7 - Plague Bearer



Battle for Middle Earth II - Rise of the Witch -King - Mission 7 - Plague Bearer
This is a hint/walkthrough post for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch-King. You can find an index of all our Battle for Middle Earth II posts here.

You do not have to hold all the barrows to corrupt 1000 souls before the time limit. Three or four should be fine. At each barrow, put down 2-3 towers (upgraded to ice arrows if you have the Resources), and garrison your sorcerer inside. A garrisoned sorcerer still counts as being atop the barrow and will still corrupt souls.
Keep building Mills whenever you can.

Build a few more battalions of Dark Rangers so that you can use their Arrow Volley to take out the riders at each barrow who immediately try to flee to get reinforcements.
Shortly after taking each barrow, whether the rider escapes to call reinforcements or not, some Dunedain Rangers will attack the barrow. Protect your sorcerers and builders by temporarily putting them in a tower.

1-2 battalions of Dark Rangers can sometimes shoot at enemy units without provoking them to move. This is probably because they are shooting from that unit's fog of war, and because they can't see the Dark Rangers, they do not move.

Battle for Middle Earth 2 - Rise of the Witch-King - Mission 6 - Carn Dûm



Battle for Middle Earth II - Rise of the Witch -King - Mission 6 - Carn Dûm
This is a hint/walkthrough post for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch-King. You can find an index of all our Battle for Middle Earth II posts here.

I found this a very tough mission at the start, not the least because I hadn't expected that the tower trebuchets would have a SHORTER range than the enemy trebuchets.
Also, I could not successfully place Hwaldar's ability to summon Hill-Men (the targeting marker seemed to be red everywhere, indicating a location where the summons could not be placed). Angmar powers that summonned creatures seemed to work fine, however.
Finally, the Witch-King's fear power was utterly useless.

On my first attempt, I put together a force of Snow Trolls to try to run around the enemy and take out their trebuchets. This worked quite well, except there were a seemingly endless stream of trebuchets.
Resources are very tight especially initially and if you cannot defend your Mills (by keeping the enemy engaged and not letting them run loose too much). Definitely build a lot of them when you have time. You probably won't have much time later during the attack waves.

One of the keys to an easier time here is to use Hwaldar's leadership bonuses. You can get both increased attack ability and Resources this way. Build a Hall of the King's Men and queue a lot of Thrall Masters. Most should end up being Axe Throwers, with two or at most three battalions of Spearmen. No Wolf Riders because there are a heck of a lot of elven pikemen in this mission.
Thrall Masters are cheap to build, so you can assemble a good-sized force to hold the outermost wall. You are really only doing this for as long as you can in order to get resources for a final stand later as there will be an overwhelming number of elves.

Another key to a solid defense is to use Troll Stone Throwers. Place them near the walls to fire over them and at the enemy as they try to break their way in. Keep them in at least two groups so that if one group is rushed, you can probably still continue firing (or give covering fire) from the other group. They also only cost 25 Command Points but if allowed to fire freely can do devastating damage.

The Elves will also go after the Witch-King directly, with several battalions of high-veterancy Lindon Horse Archers beelining for him. When that happens, retreat him to the innermost wall. When the pursuers enter the space between the middle and inner walls, shut the gates to trap them inside. They will try to fight their way out, but mostly get cut down by trebuchets and arrow towers.

If you lose the outer wall, leave your troops behind and retreat your heroes to the innermost wall. Hopefully by this time you will have accumulated a good amount of Resources not only from your Mills but from Hwaldar's leadership. Build a similar force to defend the inner wall. Builders can throw up towers to be garrisoned (or to give your Witch-King respite from pursuit) if there is spare cash.

Using the types of units mentioned above, plus all the Summon powers available, I didn't need Rogash's reinforcements to defend Carn Dûm.