Darklands: Apocalypse Averted!

From The CRPG Addict


Any god that teleports me directly from a winning combat to the nearest pub is a god I’m happy to worship.

             

After defeating the Templar’s fortress, there was only one major quest left in the game: assaulting the temple of Baphomet and foiling his plans for the apocalypse. This was not as hard as I expected. I found the Templar fortress considerably more difficult.
I had found Baphomet’s fortress ages ago while exploring south of Salzburg, so it was no extra effort to travel there again, dealing with the usual encounters along the way. When I got to Salzburg, I sold the rest of my looted equipment and stocked up on additional potions even though I still had plenty left from the Templar expedition. I also restocked my ammunition. I kept the first three characters armed with handguns, but I gave the artifact Hubert’s Bow to Bianca along with a bunch of arrows. I kept everyone in plate armor, overloaded though they were, based on the reasoning from my last entry.
         

Arriving in the castle entailed combat against some large lumbering beasts.

       

We were attacked by some demons upon entry–I failed to get their names–but they didn’t last long. The fortress consisted of a very large room which spawned seven hallways on its north end. Each led to a door. The ones on the right refused to open at first, so I tackled them from left to right. Each offered a different challenge aspected to one of the seven plagues, and in each I had to recover a “key.”
Door #1 led to a cavern of fire and brimstone. We prayed to a saint and he protected us, mostly, from the heat. Once we made it through the chamber, we recovered a seed.
          

 I don’t know how much damage we would have taken without knowledge of this saint.

         

Door #2 offered a lake of fire that we had to wade or swim across. Again, a saint protected us from most damage. On the other side, in the wreckage of a boat, we found a chained woman. She related that we were in the Last Castle of the Apocalypse, founded by Templars a century earlier after they were expelled from France. They brought the “embryo” of the demon Baphomet with them and allied with the witch cult to fuel the demon with power. She gave us a globe full of water with a trout, which she said was one of the keys, and then produced a book containing the rest of the seals, which she soon destroyed.
               

An unnamed maiden gives us the scoop.

              

Door #3 led to a large room in which we were pelted by potions from alchemists. We killed them with missile weapons and then slowly threaded our way through a maze full of traps. At the end, we found a chunk of wormwood in which a vial of honey had been embedded.
          

Avoiding traps on the way to this area’s key.

         

Door #4 started us in an area of darkness. It brightened as we entered, and we found ourselves in a maze of corridors in which groups of undead attacked us in melee combat. They weren’t very hard. In the center of the maze, we found a glowing lantern.
Door #5 led us to an area that was like Door #4 but with buzzing swarms of insects rather than undead. We ultimately found a room in which a skeletal horseman sat astride a withered steed. He asked what we would give him to avert a famine. There was an option to pray to a saint, which I took, and the saint said to consider that “not everyone dies from a famine equally–who is the least subject to it?” I then had options to sacrifice our souls, our lives, or our wealth to the horseman. Based on the saint’s clue, I chose wealth, using the logic that wealthy people don’t die from famine as surely as poor people. The horseman gave me a balance and disappeared.
             

The party contends with Inflation, one of the four horsemen of the Secular Apocalypse.

           

Door #6 opened to a huge army of lancers mounted on “goblin-beasts.” There was another saint option, but I didn’t know any saints that would help. That left me with options only to challenge one of the lancers to single combat or to attack them all. I chose the single combat. The game didn’t show the combat but just resolved it with a text screen, saying that Maximian defeated the demons’ champion and won the Sword of War but was so wounded that his strength and endurance were halved–permanently. That’s pretty brutal. I tried several reloads and that was actually the best outcome; if I fought all the demons, everyone suffered permanent damage to their statistics. Maybe knowing the right saint would have prevented it.
           

Maximian basically sacrifices himself for the quest.

          

Door #7 opened to a maze with walls of fire and traps all over the floor. I just had the party push through the traps and heal up at the end. I was impatient by this point, and a little annoyed about what the game did to Maximian.
When I opened the door on the other side of the chamber, I was confronted by a seven-headed, ten-horned dragon who offered me options to kneel or attack. Just for fun, because I had recently saved, I chose to kneel. The characters lost all their virtue and the dragon demanded Lambert, whom he tore to shreds before banishing the party from the castle.
            

Which head is speaking? Are they all speaking in unison?

           

On a reload, I did the right thing and attacked. The party had to approach the dragon across a platform with lava around the edges. The dragon shot fireballs at us, but the “Firewall” potion helped.
          

Walking through fireballs as we approach the dragon.

           

Eventually, we reached the dragon, or at least the area of the dragon. It was configured so that only one or two characters could fight in melee range, so I sent Maximian to chop at the beast with St. Olaf’s axe while the rest of the party pelted it with missiles and potions. Naturally, I drank every buffing potion that would possibly help.
I accidentally took my eyes off Maximian’s endurance for a few seconds, and when I looked back, he’d collapsed. I sent Lambert to finish the job, which took a few more minutes in which I had to keep the characters healed with potions.
             

Lambert stands on Maximian’s inert form to pound away at the dragon.

           

Once the dragon died, we were transported outside, where we encountered the head of Baphomet. He announced that he was about to start the Apocalypse and scoffed at our promises to stop him. In a long series of subsequent text screens, Baphomet summoned six plagues, which we immediately defeated with the appropriate key. To wit:
             
  • Rain of ice and fire. Stopped by the seed which grew a tree that sucked up the rain.
  • Mountain of flame that will destroy all ships and fish. Defeated with the globe.
  • Comet called Wormwood, which plunges into a lake to make all water poisonous. Defeated with magic honey which counters the poison.
  • Darkness. Countered with the magic lantern.
           

The most sensible use of one of the “keys” in this sequence.

        

  • Plague of locusts. Somehow driven off by the balance.
  • Demon lancers. Vanished when we waved the Sword of War at them.
          
At this point, Baphomet asked if we had the key to ward off the seventh plague and we admitted we didn’t. He said he’d be willing to delay releasing–and give us a boost in attributes besides–if we’d agree to go away and give him more time to perfect the Apocalypse. We said no, we’ll deal with it now, and he screamed that “hope” was the final key and that says we clearly had it, he was “undone.”
           

The old rascal tries to trick us.

        

A long, animated sequence followed in which the castle came crumbling down and the head of Baphomet was destroyed by lightning, after which beautiful rays of sunlight burst through the clouds.
              

Baphomet doesn’t look much like a demon.

           

The party found itself at the gasthaus in Salzburg contemplating whether it was time to retire or whether we still had a few adventures in us. I was disappointed to find that there isn’t really a way to “retire” the party in the game. You can retire individual members, but that’s just a matter of party composition. Someone has to remain. I had hoped for a Pirates!-like summary of my accomplishments. Instead, the best I could think to do was sell my excess stuff to build my finances again, donate my relics to the local Dom . . .
            

Despite the prelate’s promise, I got no fame for this.

         

. . .  and check my party status one final time:

                

“Legendary heroes” doesn’t go far enough. After what we’ve been through, I’d think we’d be up for beatification.

          

As endings go, the defeat of Baphomet was pretty epic, drawing a lot of material from Revelations plus a sort-of slanderous mythology built up around the Knights Templar by their enemies.

I like the ability to keep playing after the main quest, though I didn’t feel particularly compelled to. Nonetheless, as I was wrapping up this entry, I envisioned someone coming along and saying that I hadn’t really “won” until I’d defeated a dragon, too. Thus, against their moans and protests, I roused my retired party from the inn in Salzburg and headed north, chasing rumors of a dragon in that direction.

It wasn’t long before we came to the same message of a blasted landscape and a ruined village that I had included in a previous entry.
            

The party enters the Soviet Bloc.

 
Rather than march around fruitlessly, we used the “Ambush” command to set up surveillance in the area. After a message about a plundered village, we came to a scene in which the dragon swooped down to pluck a knight off his horse. The knight referred to the dragon as “Baruch ophidious.” We kept our ambush, and finally we were treated to a scene of the dragon coming out of a fissure in the ground.
       

This game has some of the best static artwork of any RPG thus far.

         
We had options to pray to a saint or attack the dragon, but these just led to him flying off forever. On a reload, we waited for him to return to his lair and then approached him in the lair, where he couldn’t flee as easily. We had options to “reason” with him, fight, or flee.
     

“Listen, we know you’re supposed to bring about the apocalypse, but perhaps we could convince you not to attack innocent villages?”

            
Reasoning just led to combat, so either way the party found itself in battle against a fire-breathing foe. A few gulps of “Firewall” potions did much to blunt his attacks. In the ensuing combat, Maximian went down (remember, he’d had his strength and endurance halved in the Baphomet encounter), but the other three carried the day with minimal need for healing.

Battling the dragon as he sends a fireball into our midst.

              
In victory, we looted some of his treasure, which admittedly put my party in a better retirement situation, as they had come out of the Baphomet temple famous but completely broke, thanks to Pestilence taking all the wealth they hadn’t spent on potions.
     

Happy?

         
Now, I assume I can say that I’ve won the game. If anyone has any final requests or feels there’s anything else I should investigate, feel free to speak up; otherwise, I’ll post the GIMLET and final thoughts in a few days.

Final time: 65 hours


Original URL: http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/2019/07/darklands-apocalypse-averted.html