Below the Cut: LandStalker (Genesis)

From The RPG Consoler

LandStalker – Rating(9 RPP)
1) 0 – Character Advancement: practice/experience based advancement, stat or level increases, multiple classes or characters, customize characters
2) 0 – Combat: character stats used for combat, additional combat options, turn based
3) 0 – Items and Equipment: store to buy and sell, equipment decisions, item decisions
4) 0 – Story: main story at the forefront; world full of hints and lore; descriptions for objects, people, and places
5) 0 – Exploration: open world from the beginning, visited locations remain open
6) 0 – Quests and Puzzles: side quests not related to the main quest, puzzles and riddles to solve

Ever since I played Solstice I’ve had a soft side for the isometric perspective. It took years of playing to get comfortable enough with the controls to make it through the game. Luckily I had Nintendo Power to guide me through those early NES games. I’m not sure I would have beaten as many as I did without it. My exposure to Genesis games was slight, but I’m sure I would have been enamored with this title just the same. I might give it a proper playthrough one day, but it won’t be detailed here.

As a 9, it’s borderline, but in the end it’s an action-adventure with some of the worst isometric controls I’ve experienced (I haven’t played them all, granted). Nigel, the protagonist, can only move in four directions, a normal mechanic in these games. Instead of angling the d-pad to map up to up-right or up-left, it’s mapped to both depending on which diagonal direction was last pressed. This makes handling imprecise. Due to that, the action sequences are tedious as I often accidentally flew in the wrong direction or swung my sword to the side of an enemy.

Nigel finds health upgrades, but that’s the only stat improvement. (I’m unsure if I should even give a point for that.) Combat strength is determined by equipment alone. There’s a good amount of that, and even some situational gear that makes swapping effective for different environmental hazards. Items are varied as well. As for story, setting, and puzzles: that’s where the game really shines, but those same aspects are what make it an adventure game, not quite an RPG.

Without a way for the character to improve, the player has to improve to make progress in the game. Combat misses the mark. It’s rote with only a sword to manage enemies (and some limited use items). The store is only acts as a money sink with no way to sell anything. I’m actually not sure if there are side quests, but I’ll give the game the benefit of the doubt as I haven’t played through far enough to find one.

In the end, I enjoyed what little I tried, and if I can manage to look past the control difficulties (and rewire my brain to accommodate), I’ll probably enjoy the rest of the game. Until that time let’s move on to Inindo.

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