(Updated on 08/07/05
A lonely horseman travels through the countryside only to find a desolate and almost demolished village with a large number of tombs and burning buildings.He wonders what is wrong, but what he doesn't know is that in every corner of the village evil lurks around.And what of the paranoid priest who calls everyone who comes near his church a demon.Is he the key to solve this mystery?And what of the guy who looks like an angel..did his appearance mean anything special..was the traveler the one chosen by god to free this village off evil.Only if you play you'll find out
Updated:Added defeat condition if the hero dies
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I quite enjoyed this campaign, mainly for the story/atmosphere and the unique style. It's certainly worth the download. The actual playability though, well, there was a little to much walking around early on especially, and this wasn't helped much by not having a location of where to go, so found the gameplay a bit boring at times. More on this in creativity and story. An important bug is that you don't die when your hero is killed, this is a really big oversight.
The mission offers some challenges, but isn't really geared towards difficulty that much. The main challenge was role playing style missions, mainly finding a person on the map and going to them to advance to the next part. There was a little fighting involved, but at all times you had adequate forces to make it fairly easy. The defence and siege were therefore not that challenging. The first time I played I lost because I couldn't get my soldiers to the TC in time to protect it, so I had to reload. The puzzle/riddle side was fairly simple, the challenge was more in locating the area than anything else, and exploration doesn't have any difficulty.
This campaign is a unique one indeed. You play a mix of role playing and fixed force, in almost a Sabato the Witch style, but without the B&D and humour, and instead a scary atmosphere. There were quite a few creative tricks - getting gold from abandoned carts, the use of relic units for Diary and Magic Book, preventing conversion by disabling Dark Age etc. The mini quests that made up most of the mission were a little lacking in creativity though once you look into them. Walking from A to B, then B to C, without anything else really happening is basically the mechanics of a lot of it. There should be more challenges along the way. For example, when you get to the knight, I though giving you the sword was quite an important part in the story, yet here just says "here ya go" and gives it to you. I thought you should have to earn the sword somehow - as a quick example you could have to beat a group of demons by yourself by using elevations to your advantage and taking them on one by one. Or you could have an interactive discussion with him and you must say the right things. Or both.
Again, for the lady of the Lake, I thought a riddle/puzzle here would be appropriate, for example a riddle telling you where she was, and having several lakes on the map, such that you must find out which one and where to stand. As for the lady herself, Joan the Maid could have easily been renamed, and created using some of the newer techniques, like the invisible tile for example, or simpler still, just hide her behind a rock (those outlines of units behind objects don't appear for rocks)
and make her come out. You could place some elevation on the rock to make it higher if need be.
Map Design: 4
There is some good "atmosphere creating" map design, especially in the town. This was done with things like deep water, rubble, burning buildings, and abandoned carts. Good job here.
The map design overall could have been a lot better though. There was a very low concentration of Gaia units - use the terrain brush and the Gaia list together, not just one. You have some areas of forests, and then some mountains - why not have the forest and mountains together - you could map copy them over each other and they would look much better. Place more trees here and there - not just in blocks. Put some units on cliffs - like the odd tree here and there.
Mix your forests - you should know this by now. All the forests you have made are all the same terrain, in repeated blocks, with no theme or variation. You could mix some pine forest in easily for a start.
The instructions in this scenario were an issue - you never know the location of your objective, so you have to go out and search the whole map. This may add a little to the play time and challenge, but you tend to find the other areas first, which kind of ruins the surprise when you do get to them. The map was very non linear, I think it perhaps would have been better being a linear map that opens up as you go on, so each new area only becomes available when you are up to that part. At the end the destination is very vague - I eventually figured out what you meant by "Stone Circle", but it took me a long time, and I almost gave up.
The scenario has a great atmosphere, it hits you from the moment you start playing with the eerie music, and then the burning buildings and rubble as you cross the bridge. This area has been done very well, with a full story supported throughout the game with dialogues and in game objective updates. There are hints, history, and a bitmap, so all bases here are covered.
The Village is a unique, creepy and very creative campaign. It was one of the first scenarios I downloaded when I had found Age of Kings Heaven and I loved it from start.
Time went by and I almost forgot about the scenario, when I suddenly saw the authour's name in the forums and I had a flashback to the scenario. I redownloaded and played it again but this time I had no time to review.
This is the third time I play it and its time to rate it.
It is thanks to this scenario that I have gotten a picture of the designer. He may not have the ultimate skills, but he's creative and his scenarios are never boring.
This is my review of 'The Village' by Mk101
The Village was to me pure enjoyment. The dark, creepy music in the background, the fire and graves on the ground, the darkness and silence of the land, no people as far as you can see... it all concludes into a superb scenario.
To me, The Village has always been one of the scenarios you always remember, alongside with classics like Ulio. The Village may not have same class as the other high rated scenarios out there, but it has still taken a place in my mind. I can never forget it.
Enough with my personal thoughts. The playability of the scenario, well to start, the scenario is highly enjoyable as long as you dont have skyscraper high expectations on a designer. If you're only looking for extraudinary battles, complex magic or war stories, this is nothing for you. But if you're looking for something creative, unique and if your expectations on map design isn't too high, this is a perfect scenario for you.
What brings this cathegory up to a 4 is that the scenario is enjoyable, as said before, and because its a very simple scenario. It has no complex trigger systems, no bugs or anything. The only thing that racks down the score is the few instructions. No one tells you where the persons or locations on the map are. There are a few signs but they help just little.
The second thing is the unclear objectives. When the objectives read "lure the demon lord to the stone circle" I didnt understand where that was. At last I found out it was the statues in the west, and I manages to win the scenario.
That's what gives this a 4-, a weak 4
Balance is not the strongest part of the scenario. The few fighting elements that exists are the demon attack and the siege, and later the chase but you can avoid fighting totally there.
The demon attack is simple, as long as you have the sorcerers forces with you. If not, its managable, but much harder since you have only men-at-arms and archers.
It varies a little between the difficulty levels, but the odds changes very little.
The siege is harder, but still very easy. Send forward the traveller to bring out the berserks, kill them with your troops and then knock down the gate and the castle with the rams. Make the demon lord follow your traveller, bring him to the stone circle and voilà, he's dead!
Of course, if your rams are destroyed by the berserks, its impossible to win. And if you'r not on your guard, the demon lord can kill you. But allround, its very easy.
So summarily, its very easy, as long as you use the right tactics and think strategically. If not, its impossible. But iof you do, its way too simple to get a higher score. a 3
The Village is an allround creative scenario. The theme is unique, the story is unique, it has creepy music combined with graves and fire in the terrain.
The theme, a village on fire, no life as far as you can see, an angel telling the story about the village, demons unleashed by crazed minds and so on. Its all very interesting. The people featured in the scenario are all unique, no one is like the other. There's the traveller coming from another town, theres an angel telling the story to the traveller, a paranoid priest that has locked himself up in the monastery garden, the lady of the lake shwoing up only when you're being dubbed the knight of the village, an old sorcerer, the old knight of the village, a demon lord and more. They're all unique.
The two only thing that drives this down from a five to a 4+ is 1) the lack of triggerwork. There are some basic tricks, like getting money from old caravans and explosions, but not much more. It has a lack of effects. It makes the scenario a little dull when you're just walking around the land.
And 2) the terrain is quite boring. Some places, like the village, suits the scenario well but the land between the village and the demon base is very boring and dull. Entirely flat and many square forestparts.
Apart from that, this is the strongest part of the scenario and the thing that makes the scenario as good as it is. 4+
MAP DESIGN: 2+
This is the worst part of the scenario. I'm sorry to say so, but most of the scenario is very plain, dull and boring. The terrain mixing is minimal. At most there's Dirt 1 and 2 mixed a little, but not much more.
There is an almost complete lack of eyecandy. The few places that has eyecandy is the village, the lake and the stone circle, plus one cliff that has no part in the story.
There are several square forests and the paths are made of Dirt 2 everywhere, if not combined with Dirt 1. From nature perspective its very bad, in general worse than a random map.
There is but one thing that brings this up from the swamp of failed maps, and thats the village. Most of it is on fire, there are a few ruins and this is the part with most eyecandy, fire, statues, carts, cracks and craters and so on.
So it brings it up to a 2+
Also a strong part of this scenario. The story and outlay is unique and the music suits perfectly. No doubt that this is one of the most unique scenarios I've ever seen.
The scenario features many different persons - I've talked about them already - and they're all different to each other.
I could have given it a 5 on Story/Instructions, if it wasn't for a few things.
1) The ingame story is rather plain. You have missions and they're (mostly) easy to understand, but between them there are very few instructions. There are signs, but not much more.
2) There are a few grammar mistakes. These are very few and the text is still fully understandable.
3) Some of the objectives are unclear, like the final objective that I talked about earlier.
Apart from that, outstanding. This is one truly unique and dark scenario!
In general: Unique
In closing: does perhaps not suit everyone, but if you think you've seen everything, think again
'The Village' is now one of those old classic scenarios that although it may not score highly benefits from its unique and atmospheric experience that I would still recommend today. The game play offers a nice if not minimal blend of RPS and RPG elements, in which you hail as a lone traveller and must discover a sometimes mysterious landscape and the backdrop of the supernatural encroaching over an isolated village. This is one of my favourite scenarios, even if the rating might otherwise dictate an average one.
PLAYABILITY: I wanted to return to this scenario since first playing it back in 2005 because even after all these years I still find it very enjoyable, particularly because of its dark atmosphere and unique game play. The story is simple and straight forward, but it's always enough in that you find yourself drawn ahead and wanting to discover more. There are many strong creative instances, but it's also a scenario bereft of final polishing, and it would really benefit from improved map design and a little more happening in between to earn a higher rating here. Excessive walking was a bane to the enjoyment and unclear objectives meant the player could potentially spend an unnecessary amount of time exploring the map in search of obscure locations. 4
BALANCE: While there isn't a great deal of action in this scenario, with the majority of your time spent completing minor objectives, I felt the fighting was moderately challenging. Although you control only a lone horseman, you're never really in danger, unless you don't know what you're doing. Larger bands of enemies can be lured away and picked apart with hit-and-run tactics, while the finale involving the demon king simply involves a bit of common sense. 3-
CREATIVITY: This is the best part of the scenario, with strong atmosphere made so by the excellent choice in music, and the mysterious and intriguing backdrop that always drew you further into the game play. The use of relics for the diary and book of magic were well done as well as broken carts for loot. 4-
MAP DESIGN: The map design begins well with a burning village and the intrigue of a mysterious enemy making off with all the inhabitants, but this is where it ends. The majority of the map design thereafter is mostly blank with square blocks of forest, ugly road networks and no terrain mixing. Gaia objects, such as statues and broken carts, were used to convey location and loot but there was not a lot else here. 2+
STORY/INSTRUCTIONS: This story seems to lean from the old adage that less is more, with no back story and mostly straight forward objectives which aren't always very clear. Where this scenario shines is with the intrigue of its in-game events, with plenty of dialogue and minor quests. 3
CONCLUSION: 'The Village' is one of those scenarios that earns its relatively low rating but in a strangely deceptive twist offers a lot more in terms of its enjoyment and atmosphere. There is room for improvement in every compartment, but this should not be passed over if you enjoy RPGs with a minimalist touch.
In a sentence - Dark, atmospheric and intriguing.
In closing - A highly-recommended download.
[Edited on 10/07/17 @ 08:22 PM]