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An ABC review of IWDEE from bengoshi

JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,884
As nearly everyone knows, I haven't been on the forum for the last 4 days. The reason is quite simple: I, like many of IE fans, have been dire-charmed by the release of IWDEE. On October, 31, I managed to finish my working month, put all my home tasks aside for a few days, turned off my phone and, like in childhood, started to explore the recently installed game.

I've thought it could be a good idea to write a review because something that makes 4 days of your life feel like 4 hours can't go unevaluated. Also, I've thought that all the hard work of Beamdog on this game deserved to get credit so that all of those who're still thinking about whether to acquire IWDEE or not (like @O_Bruce for e.g.) can consider additional feedback from a fellow forumite.

I'm not a journalist and didn't write a game review before. This is why I've chosen an alphabet structure - it's simple and yet hasn't let me forget about the focus.

A - Absolution
IWDEE looks like and feels like the ultimate version of how an IE game could be enhanced given all the lost data. During all 4 days I had no single crash, didn't encounter anything even remotely close to a bug and/or problem, didn't see anything that could upset me. With the new UI, all the new spells and kits - and in the same time with all the music, the landscapes and the enemies from the vanilla version, - the game feels absolutely brilliant.

B - Bard
I created a party of six heroes but the main character, the one that always occupies the top place, the one who speaks with everybody was the bard with 18 CHA. And it felt so natural to have a bard as a group leader! I couldn't imagine any event in the game without a bard: my party is speaking with a siren - the bard is needed to understand the girl's song and to sing in an answer; my fighter is trying to overcome a tough snake elite - the bard is needed to improve his damage and attack rolls; my thief is setting a trap or is opening a lock - the bard is needed again to give a huge bonus to thieving abilities. A bard micromanaging with all the different spells and songs he has in IWD is a very fresh feeling after the usual Blade BG routine of buff spells and dual-wielding.

C - Creativity
With a need of making your own party and not a single character plus tons of new spells, IWDEE gives an unlimited field to try any party composition you always wanted to try but could not let in BG. What if I try a cleric without any second class? What if I try a druid without any second class as well? What about a singing bard? What about a wild mage who's not Neera? And and all of that is available in one party!

D – Druid
One of my party members was a totemic druid. And what a revelation it was! A druid in IWDEE has a good attacking spell at each level. Sunscorch is a good alternative to mages’ magic missile while Spike Growth is the best AOE damaging spell you can get before Cloudkill. Several Spike Growth spells combined with Web/Stinking Cloud spells – and a group of any monsters will be dead in several rounds. Smashing Wave is simply stunning! It can go through the half of area (!) killing or severely injuring everything it meets. To tell the truth, in my party a druid was just as essential as a mage.

E - Emotion
Emotions of Courage and Hope. These two spells completely change the level of effectiveness your party has. Again, a fresh choice for an arcane spell.

F - First levels
IWDEE brought me the joy of developing characters right from the first level - the thing I like in BG1 so much: these are the moments when even a pack of orcs feel dangerous. "Ohh, I've found the first +1 item!" "Ohh, the first level-up!" "Ohh, the first Mirror Image spell scroll!" These emotions are simply unforgettable:)

G - Gear
IWDEE gives you items gradually. You can't visit all locations from the start to plan your items and spells - in this game you get them step-by-step. The joy of finally finding a thrown axe and finally getting a Web spell is unmatched. Beamdog have made a food job of putting new items here and there – just like they were always there: new monk bracers come exactly when they’re needed, a new katana +2 with a fine enchantment comes not long before a battle when you need it happens.

H - Hrothgar
James Jonah «Jim» Cummings. Both Hrothgar and Arundel are voiced over by him. And the quality of the voice-over acting is still there. They speak amazingly. I can listen to them for hours. Intonation, tempo, pause.

I – Intellect
You don’t find 5 scrolls of one spell in IWDEE so you have to be very careful before trying to learn each spell. Your mage should better get the highest INT available from the start and use every potion of Genius and/or Mind Focusing (and there’re not many of those) before scribing scrolls. This is very fresh if compared to BG.

J – Jokes
The dialogue choices in IWDEE are full of jokes. They are hilarious. Overall, I should say that in IWDEE you more often than not can speak with your enemies – even quite general ones - before a fight, thus understanding him or her better. I’ll miss it in BG.

K – Kits
One of my party members was a Tempus priest. I’ve liked him a lot. Getting Holy Power from the 1st level is a nice buff, especially combined with DUHM. Chaos of Battle became my favourite opening spell in any mass fight. Overall, a chance to try kits in IWDEE is worth it.

L – Love
I’ve fallen in love with IWDEE. Being a BG fan for years, I’ve found lots and lots of positives in IWDEE. Some spells work differently: you now have to think twice before using the Insect Plague Spell in the middle of the combat. If you fear your character can be charmed, just cast Protection from Evil on him. Enemies in IWDEE have refreshing abilities as well: you should kill those beetles fast and BEFORE they come close to your party members.

M – Music
In my game I didn’t encounter any problems with music. Instead, I was blown away by beautiful sets of Kuldahar and Easthaven. The battle compositions of the Vale of Shadows and the Dragon’s Eye were lively and suited the areas perfectly.

N – No-reload
This game is a perfect chance to go a no-reload route. There’re not many free spell scrolls so if your mage hasn’t learned one or two – take it as it is. Use other spells. If your party member has fallen – try to finish the battle, take his belongings and go the temple.

O – One
I don’t think this game can give only one playthrough. With the variety of party compositions, certain spells that are alignment-restricted and the HoF mode, one can easily have several runs of IWDEE, the replayability is there.

P – Protections
As the wonderful Alveus Malcanter’s videos showed, don’t fear to use potions and spells to protect your characters. The battles in IWDEE are quite tricky and have a moderate level of difficulty, I liked that. Monsters tend to wander about and do not stay still letting you kill them easily.

Q – Question
If I was given a chance to ask Beamdog only one question after tasting IWDEE, it would be: “When can we expect IWD3?”

R – Right
I was completely right that I bought IWDEE. This game has already given me 50+ hours of gameplay and both I and my wife who sat all that time next to me and watched the game liked it.

S – Steal
Use your bard or thief and try to pick pocket NPCs you meet. The surprisingly good items can be found if you do it. Even while there’re not so many NPCs in IWDEE like there’re in BG, you still have several targets for pick pocketing.

T – Thief, and a dwarven one
"17 DEX? Come on, how can you let such aa penalty to your thief!" - this was the usual thought of mine when I wanted to make a dwarven thief in BG. And voilà! In IWDEE we have a wonderful spell called "Cat's Grace". In most cases it raises the DEX of a target to 20 and works during several hours! This arcane spell alone lets you freely take a dwarf as a thief to fully RP your concept. Now he's not worse, he's better than any popular elven thief you meet in BG parties.

U – UI
It’s a win! With the new UI which we know from BGEE and which has been further developed, playing IWD becomes as most convenient as we could ever hope.

V – Vendetta
Without giving away any spoilers, I should say that the storyline in IWD is interesting and has unexpected twists. For e.g., finding out what that “Vendetta” one enemy talked about was something like: “WHAT?” Overall, I’ve liked how the main quest advances.

W – Weapon ineffective
Quite often I saw this phrase during my run. My party reached the Severed Hand and up to this moment we had a lot of moments when in order to defeat an enemy characters had to find out first by what weapon they can hit it.

X – Xan
You can meet Xan’s cousin in IWDEE, and even read his journal. This easter-egg felt so warm and funny.

Y – Yxunomei
One of the main antagonists was deadly and fearful. The whole process of her first appearance and a subsequent transformation was quite entertaining. The battle demanded all my knowledge of IE spells and abilities to win it.

Z - ZZZZZ
IWDEE is so good you won’t be able to stop playing even for a sleep. So, no “ZZZZ”. It gives an absolute immunity to sleep, I should say. An impressive level of work has been put into this game. Beamdog have done it!

As @Quartz would say, with IWDEE Beamdog have made something abundantly clear – that they can release a thoroughly polished product with which gamers will have a blast.

Post edited by JuliusBorisov on
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Comments

  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    I have yet to find enough time to get to Kuldahar, but this weekend I will be adventuring without any regard for goblin life! This awesome review just makes me more excited. Didn't know Jim Cummings did Hrothgar AND Arundel in addition to Minsc... that man is prolific

    JuliusBorisovlolienjackjack
  • ShikaoShikao Member Posts: 376
    Great review with nice theme =]
    I wanted to buy even before reading this review, but now I will wait for it impatiently ^_^

    JuliusBorisovlolien
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,094
    Have to agree, this EE is exceptionally well done. Any gripes I have with the game were present in the original and couldn't really be fixed in an EE anyway (strict linearity etc.). The things that they could fix, they did, and quite expertly so. They really have learned a lot from the BG1/2 EEs, and that says something about a company's competence. Very nice indeed!

    JuliusBorisovlolien
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,396
    Good review! I did not have much free time and only could poke with the game and create a few parties and try HoW areas and some spells, still the game felt really polished and and created by care and love. Beamdog really got it good this time. (not that bg releases were terrible, iwd:ee release is simply better.)

    Now if only they could release it in AppStore I can play for long hours to come. I don't have the time/or patience to sit infront of the pc nowadays. Mobile devices really corrupted me, I fear.

    JuliusBorisovlolien
  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,761
    Thank you for your review, @bengoshi‌

    1. It is encouraging that IWD:EE is stable and bugless at release. To bad that it is in better shape than BG:EE is after 2 years.

    2. I always want to giggle when someone considers the story of IWD:EE (which is just giant excuse for dungeon crawling) any good.

    3. Yxunomei. People says she was hard to beat, yet I recall her being underwhelming in my IWD playghtrought. Something changed for her?

    4. Making a whole party yourself was disadvantage of IWD to me, but it can be advantage of IWD:EE, due to wide selection of classes and kits. Maybe finally my eventual IWD party wouldn't feel like: "BG party, just with mindless puppets instead of characters with personality".

    5. Bards and Druids more viable is always a good thing. Why that hasn't changed in BG:EE is beyond logical explanation.

    6. New items are always cool.

    7. Replayability might have increased due to new kits and classes. Good.

    8. No-reload point is meaningless to me.

    9. Music. While great, I hardly ever heard it in IWD. It wasn't even during the final battle. Something changed in that matter?

    Overall, I'm rather more willing to buy IWD:EE than not buying it at this point. I'll have to wait for it anyway, due to the fact that I'm student (and students are always short on money) and the fact that christmas period is gradually coming.

    JuliusBorisov
  • SedSed Member Posts: 788
    bengoshi said:

    As everyone knows, I haven't been on the forum for the last 4 days.

    I didn't know ;)

    JuliusBorisovNimranAbel
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,884
    Sed said:

    bengoshi said:

    As everyone knows, I haven't been on the forum for the last 4 days.

    I didn't know ;)
    Fixed that :D

    Shikao
  • PaladinPaladin Member Posts: 335
    Wait, your wife sat with you for 50 hours of Icewind Dale? Wow! Can you teach mine to do that?

    JLeeCrevsDaakjackjack
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,884
    Paladin said:

    Wait, your wife sat with you for 50 hours of Icewind Dale? Wow! Can you teach mine to do that?

    Try Mental Domination. Seriosly though, she likes IE games not less than I.

    JLeeCrevsDaakShikaololien
  • KenjiKenji Member Posts: 249
    edited November 2014
    O_Bruce said:

    9. Music. While great, I hardly ever heard it in IWD. It wasn't even during the final battle. Something changed in that matter?

    No, but it's that these amazing scores are so rare and so immersive that I'd stop my whole party from transitioning maps just to finish listening to the music.

    In both IWD and IWDII, whenever the town music plays, the adventuring party would always come to a sudden halt and the hustled footsteps would stop. God knows why this band of mercenaries would all of a sudden stop their quest to save the Ten Towns; perhaps it is due to certain unknown commanding force... of clicking.

    But yea, I hoped the Arundel's theme would play more often at different places, since I don't get to return to his hut anymore for any purpose after.. well, you'll know.

    JuliusBorisov
  • RamzaRamza Member Posts: 111
    Kenji said:

    God knows why this band of mercenaries would all of a sudden stop their quest to save the Ten Towns; perhaps it is due to certain unknown commanding force... of clicking.

    "Sometimes I feel like a pawn... in some sort of... game!"

    CrevsDaakKenji
  • AbelAbel Member Posts: 716
    edited November 2014
    James Jonah «Jim» Cummings. Both Hrothgar and Arundel are voiced over by him. And the quality of the voice-over acting is still there. They speak amazingly. I can listen to them for hours. Intonation, tempo, pause.
    Very true. I never tire of listening to the opening dialog.

    JuliusBorisov
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