Monday, April 8, 2013

Kaylin's Hints for Infinity Engine Games

Right now, you might be wondering: what in the world am I talking about?  Let me explain.  Infinity Engine was the program used to create a lot of RPGs during the late nineties and early 2000's.  Huge names in the RPG genre, such as Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment are Infinity Engine games.  So is the game I'm currently playing, Icewind Dale.  

While several Infinity Engine games are considered classics by popular gamer opinion, they can be a little bit daunting to play.  Personally, Baldur's Gate was one of the most difficult games I've played, and I was tempted to quit more than once.  Somehow (okay, I ended up cheating near the end), I made it through the game and really enjoyed the story.  After reading the disappointing novelizations of the Baldur's Gate series, I realized that every moment of frustration that the game caused me was worth it to get the real story.  

So please, if you're interested in the story of one of these gaming classics, don't read a summary on Wikipedia and please, please don't read the novelization.  Get the full experience, the full frustration and the full sense of accomplishment and play the game yourself.  Here's a few tips to get you started.

Save Your Game... A Lot

Baldur's Gate was the game that made me realize that this really is a good idea.  If you win a fight, save your game.  If you're able to rest without being attacked by wolves, save your game.  If you make it a few steps without triggering a trap, save your game.  If anything beneficial happens whatsoever, save your game.   It may seem paranoid, but it's better to save "too often" than too little.  You never know when something bad might happen, so it's best to always have a restore point and save yourself the frustration of doing something over again.  

Talk To Everyone

Life might be easier if this happened in the real world as well.


Unlike, say, World of Warcraft, there are no characters in an Infinity game with floating exclamation marks over their heads announcing that they want you to do something.  There are occasions when it's obvious who the quest givers are, but most of the time you have to seek them out.  Don't worry, it's still not too hard to find them.  Is there a large group of sprites that all kind of look the same?  In that case, chances are that the one or two characters that look different are the quest givers.  Also, be on the lookout for characters with specific names, as that's a giveaway that they're probably important somehow.  

Finally, be careful in conversations.  Infinity games are notorious for their walls of text, but dialogue can be incredibly important, especially in Planescape: Torment.  Take time to read everything, choose your responses carefully, and don't be afraid to reload your game if the encounter doesn't go the way you want.  

Dying Is Expensive

In games, death is rarely permanent.  In Icewind Dale, for instance, you can revive fallen companions unless they were critically hit upon their death or turned to stone.  This can be helpful, but in my experience, it's best to not go through the trouble of reviving your fallen buddies.  Instead, reload your game and try the battle again until everyone makes it through.  There are some cases where this can be really difficult, but keep at it.  

Know How to Build Your Party

Strategic, party-based combat is what Infinity Engine is basically all about.  I can say from experience that if your party of adventurers is not balanced, then just about any Infinity game is going to be extremely difficult for you.  Take some extra time to look online and see what has worked for other gamers.  Here's what my usual Infinity game party looks like: 

From top to bottom, the character roles are: Melee fighter, ranged fighter (Ranger class), Thief (to find traps and unlock things), Spellcaster, Healer, and Paladin (another melee fighter with some handy abilities).  Obviously, you can play the game just fine with a different party, otherwise it wouldn't be interesting, but this is what works best for me.        
These are just a few basic hints, but I hope they help if you decide to play one of these classic RPGs.  Until next time, keep calm and game on.  

P.S. If you're more of an adventure gamer, check out my tips for adventuring.

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