I started playing this game about a month ago, and I feel as though I've barely progressed at all. It's not that I haven't been playing it; I've put a decent number of hours in already, but it's becoming clear to me that this game is going to be a serious undertaking. A serious one, and possibly not an altogether interesting one.
When I last posted, I had just finished mapping the City and was heading out into the Wilderness. Graphically the Wilderness looks no different, it's just another maze of walls, corridors and doors. The same can be said for the Forest, which is the "dungeon" area that I'm currently exploring: the graphics have a green background, and that's as different as it gets. As I mentioned in the last post, it seems as though the whole land of Moria is actually one huge subterranean labyrinth.
Unlike the City, the Wilderness is full of random encounters with monsters. Combat is quick, but there are a lot of options available. The basic option is to Fight, which simply involves hitting the F key until the monster is dead, and is highly dependent on the quality of your weapon. You can also Trick your opponent, which uses your Cunning score; a successful Trick results in an instant kill. You can Pray for help from the gods, who provide aid in a variety of ways, with success dependent on your Piety score. You can Bribe opponents with gold or items to let you go (I haven't tried this yet). There is an option to Run, but apparently you lose treasure with this option, so I haven't used it much. You can Evade, making yourself more difficult to hit, but it doesn't seem to be all that useful in a single player game. And finally you can cast spells, which are quite handy, but also drain your Vitality.
Praying grants you the choice of a number of boons. You can pray to escape from your foes, or for healing. Holy Word, if successful, will kill a monster instantly. You can also pray for direct intervention from your god, which kills all of your foes at once. I haven't had any success with this option yet, and I'm loathe to attempt it too often; the help file says that the gods tire of giving aid if asked too often, and I'm kind of worried about the consequences. I'd probably be better trying it out now, rather than later when I have a more established character, but I'm already at the point where I don't want to lose my progress (scant as it is).
There aren't very many combat spells, and all of them have basically the same effect. Paralyze causes the victim to stop moving, allowing for an instant kill. Charm makes the victim believe you're its friend, allowing an instant kill. Sleep puts the monster to sleep, allowing for an instant kill. Dispell Magic turns the monster's magic against it, causing an instant kill. Sensing a pattern? Magic Missile is a simple damage spell, but at least it breaks the monotony. I haven't used much magic in combat, to be honest, as it tends to drain more Vitality from my character than the monsters do.
The game has more options than any other in the blog so far, and yet combat is ridiculously safe. None of the monsters have special abilities, as far as I'm aware. The different types don't seem to vary much in strength; it seems to me that the level you encounter them on has more to do with how tough they are than what type of monster you're fighting. They don't do much damage, and most of them die with a single blow. Your Vitality slowly regenerates even when you're standing still, so it's a simple matter to wait a few minutes when your Vitality is running low, and you'll soon be at full strength. So far it's been a bit too easy.
Most monsters have treasure, which is sometimes trapped but usually safe The traps simply cause damage, and your Cunning score determines whether they hit or not. Most treasure comes in gems and gold coins, but occasionally I've found a weapon or a piece of armour. It's worth hanging on to these, because you can sell them at the store for a decent amount of cash.
Combat is frequent, but it's not the biggest threat in the game. The biggest threat is the game's size. The wilderness is enormous, and took a long time to map. Level 1 of the Forest is about the same size as the city, which was big enough that I starved two character to death mapping the thing. I wouldn't mind the size of these maps if there was anything interesting in them, but they're mostly empty. My only consolation so far has been that level 2 of the Forest is slightly smaller than level 1, and level 3 slightly smaller still. If that pattern holds this game will be a lot more bearable. As it is, it feels like it's going to be a long, hard slog to find the Reaper's Ring.