Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul
|a game by||Fishtank Interactive|
|Editor Rating:||9/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||10.0/10 - 3 votes|
|Rate this game:|
786 years ago the world was broken into a number of remote islands. Unfortunately, these islands are unstable and require the presence of a great magician to keep them from disappearing permanently. If a magician does leave or disappears from the island, it can only survive a short while before it fades away.
The story starts with Zak, equipped in light clothes and bearing only a knife, waking up in strange ruins without knowing how he arrived. His first goal is to discover who he is, where he came from and how he found himself on the useless Island of Gipath. He quickly discovers that either by accident or some other power, his mysterious arrival has fulfilled a prophecy in which he is the "chosen one."
Fishtank Interactive has combined a role-playing and real-time strategy game and ended up with a cross between Diablo and Baldur's Gate. If you enjoyed either of those two games or enjoy RPGs, chances are you'll find yourself playing Evil Islands into the early morning.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Upon starting, you'll notice locals running away and you're told to follow them to their village. On the way there you get the first taste of battle, fighting small enemies while the tutorial opens automatically, introducing you to the controls and interface. This tutorial turns out to be extremely useful and by the time you reach the village, you'll have a decent understanding of the game and be comfortable enough to start the journey.
Evil Islands has three basic modes the player uses to receive quests and travel the Islands. The village, being the first mode, is where Zak interfaces with the locals and the story is created. By talking to various villagers, Zak takes on quests trying to find out how he got here and how to get home. Also in the village, there is a shop where items of armor, weapons, and spells can be purchased and sold. As enemies are defeated, they leave behind items that can be sold at this shop. Once inside, you can see an inventory of the items collected by Zak and his companions. Here, not only are items bought and sold, but you can create new items by buying blueprints and using material you have found.
After leaving the village, the second mode -- a global island map -- is shown. Here you can see the quests available and what areas they are in. There are various different areas and you must travel through one to reach another. Before leaving the global map, you can also use the experience points that have been collected after winning battles. The way this was implemented adds a different dimension to the game. If, for instance, you select to improve your axe skill from the numerous skills listed, all the other skills remaining double in required experience points for the next time. What this means is that players will end up having special talents depending on the skills they select.
The final mode is called the gamezone. In the gamezone, Zak and is companions will fight their enemies and finish quests. After entering an area, you'll set out in the direction of your goal by moving the mouse cursor and clicking on the place you want them to go. The cursor is a point of contention, however. What one would expect is for the cursor to glide across the screen, not jump around. Instead, when the mouse is moved, it skips across the screen, stopping only when it's on the edge. This is a major issue, as it affects gameplay and causes frustration. After I changed the resolution the cursor did improve, but not enough to fix the issue. One feature that does save it from total frustration is being able to stop time at any point. This allows the player to select which opponent to fight, change weapons, or cast a spell. Now when the cursor is jumping across the screen and enemies are attacking, time can be stopped and that darn cursor can get where it's supposed to be. Once you're able to work through the cursor bug, Zak will be battling enemies and finishing quests with ease. You'll also appreciate that while traveling in the gamezone, when a monster is defeated, he doesn't reappear. This lets you get quickly to areas that are further away without fighting the whole time.
While in the gamezone, you'll notice the time that was put into designing an interface that accommodates all the required functionality, while not creating an excessively complex tool. To accomplish this, the designers implemented some basic techniques along with some interesting ones. For instance, there is a small map in the upper right corner, you can adjust the game tempo, and you can change Zak's weapon from the screen. In addition, there is a box in the upper left corner that shows the stats and damage of the character under the cursor. The image of the person or monster is active and clearly depicts any wounds received.
The graphics in the gamezone are exceptional. You can see shadows from trees blowing in the wind, along with Zak's shadow following his every move. When Zak is walking, his footprints can be seen for a reasonable period of time, then slowly fade. Monster footprints can also be seen and even used to track them down. Weather patterns affect the game, from bright sunshine to rain and lightning flashes illuminating the sky. The monsters, trees and other parts of the landscape are highly detailed and help the player become immersed in the game. When in the village, however, the graphics are poor; the locals' bodies are geometric and do not move in a natural manner. Keeping the village graphics in perspective, as it's a small part of the game, overall Evil Islands is visually impressive, showing time and effort well spent.
The audio is similar in quality to the graphics. In the gamezone, the developers paid attention to detail, adding things like Zak speaking softly when crawling, rain hitting the ground, and thunder coinciding with the lightning. Footsteps can be heard and change over different terrain. Ever so often the audio was prone to skip, but this wasn't distracting, just irritating. There are again problems in the village. For instance, when one person is talking, the voiceover looks like a bad Godzilla movie with the character's mouth opening and closing totally out of sync with the audio.
When using the multiplayer mode, one player must set his or her computer up as a server and the other players connect to it. Each player creates a new character and selects the character's appearance, name, clan, and other skills before beginning. The leader of the group is the player who set up the server; he or she controls the group's movement through the gamezones. It's basically like the single-player mode, but there is less of a storyline and not enough action to keep players other than the leader interested.
Pentium II 300, DirectX 7.0, 64 MB RAM, Direct3D-compatible video card w/ 8 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 500 MB free HD space (not including saved games)
Evil Islands could have been fantastic except for its game-slowing bugs and voiceover issues. Even with them, it's still addictive and I've found myself playing it until early morning. The rest of the gameplay is strong and holds the attention of the player. Although not as well known as other popular RPGs, if you like to be immersed in far-off worlds, completing quests and battling enemies, I'd recommend Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul.