After four years In production it has to be said that Stonekeep met with something of a lukewarm reception when it finally arrived a couple of months ago. However, despite the almost soap opera-like series of previews that appeared across the years in PC and the very high level of anticipation for the product, it has to be said that the whole thing was ultimately disappointing.
Now that the game has been out and on the shelves for a number of months, all kinds of bugs and spooky anomalies have come to light that we didn't find at the time of actually reviewing the thing. Although there are far too many to go into in any great detail here, we feel that there are a few that we really ought to let you know about simply because they're so completely ridiculous!
The first, and probably most amusing of these is a rather strange bug we found in the combat system. While desperately trying to fend off the attacks of two ore-type things our valiant reviewer (the ever-diligent Chris) discovered that you could confuse the enemy incredibly easily - all you have to do is hold down a direction key and spin around on the spot. By doing this, you can attack the ores, but they can't get at you.
Elsewhere we found bugs that wouldn't allow you to complete certain quests in the manner described by the game, as well as all kinds of weird graphical quirks. Umm.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
There are games that take a long time to appear; there are games that take a bugger of a long time to appear; and then, high above them, peeping out like an extremely high thing across a vast expanse of wittily thought of shorter things, is Stonekeep. Stonekeep is the game that's taking longer to arrive than a eunuch with prostate trouble. We're talking about three years, here. Think what you were doing three years ago - something illegal with chickens, if our readers' poll is anything to go by - and think what you're doing now. Think how your life has changed. How you've moved on to bigger and better things (rockhopper penguins, or whatever). And now think how the poor sods working on Stonekeep feel. They're still doing exactly the same thing as they were three years ago. It wouldn't be any surprise to find out that the Stonekeep development team has a higher suicide rate than the average Maori street gang.
Special effects ahoy
It all starts with a lengthy introduction sequence (What doesn't these days?), in which you, a boy with a bobbed haircut, a Disney-like lack of charm and an unwholesome regard for animals with disgustingly curly fur, are hanging about in a castle with your disgustingly curly-furred dog. Hairy Willy. Quite what you're doing there isn't altogether clear, except that you have with you a cardboard suitcase full of peanut butter, and the owner of the castle has a waxed moustache and wears bicycle clips over his pyjama bottoms.
Hot down-below action
And back you come as an adult and (looks at bottom of page and realises he doesn't have much time left) down into the dark and scary dungeon you quickly go, skimming over all sorts of details, your soul tricked from you by the woman from the Friz-Eze advert, who won't allow you back upstairs until you've saved the world. It's traditional dungeon fare, with corridors to creep down, things to slash at and unhygienic stuff to pick up from the floor. The difference is that the nasty baddies are live-action characters, and since the dungeons themselves are all rendered, we're talking graphical pleasantness all round. Game controls are simple and logical: move with the cursor keys and fiddle about with the mouse. Click on different areas of the screen to bring up a mirror image of your digitised self, an inventory, and a map (once you find it). Click on some food and your mouth to eat it; click frantically with your mouse button in swordfights, and so on.
While Stonekeep doesn't have the complexity of movement that we've become used to with the likes of Ultima Underworld or System Shock, it is full screen and big-boy rendered. And when it's finished, round about the turn of the century 1 should think, we'll tell you more about it.