I guess you could say I got through that by the skin of my teeth. A fair portion of the book I managed unarmed, which is as good a way to test the magic system as I can imagine! It has to be said though that this was a very easy book, and judging by comments around the community, that’s a view shared by the majority. I hadn’t realised this was basically a tutorial for the Sorcery series though, I blazed through it in a couple of short sittings and was a bit dumbstruck that I’d reached the end when I did, especially given the above-average page count. I can now see that a lot of those pages make up different spell-casting scenarios and the like. It certainly seemed like I missed a hell of a lot though, a lot of John Blanches excellent art-work hinting at many scenes and encounters that passed me by. Some of the more surreal style of figures reminded me of the gorgeous art in Amanita Designs outstanding Botanicula.
A user comment has noted that I took an ‘unconventional’ route, the fact that it’s even possible to take an unconventional route is a great boast for the books re-playability.
My desire to give the iOS version a go has certainly increased having played the paper version, I really enjoyed exploring the hills and would love to know what else is out there. Perhaps I should be getting an iPad mini instead of a Nexus 7 afterall… Regardless, Shamutanti Hills really is a relaxing stroll in the countryside for the most part and for that reason its a lovely experience to immerse yourself in. Titannica notes that the manticore lair is a step-up in difficulty compared to the rest of the book though and I would agree, but I got really very lucky indeed in picking my route as it seems I avoided some very nasty things that I would probably have been killed by given that I entered with a Stamina of about 8 I think.
As I mentioned earlier, I certainly wouldn’t have made it out alive without my magic and I was able to use the magic system without needing to cheat. The naming system gives you enough clues to suggest what they spells do if you can’t remember, but where I will come unstuck in the future books is remembering that certain items are required for some spells. Other new systems I really enjoyed too, the food and sleep aspect dragged me into the word a bit more, I do like that element of realism in games though, when I knew Fallout: New Vegas had a Hardcore mode that did the same, I was straight on it from my first play-through. The Libra system was flexible, although the issue of restoring my Skill without a weapon was a bit of a grey area, as was the ending where I was treated by the Svinns healer. Do I get to restore my Skill or not? The idea of continuity between books is something I haven’t experienced before, but I’m very interested to see how my new friend Flanker helps out and what the key the Svinns gave me allows me to do.
Before I draw this to a close, a few of my favourite pieces of art. Jann featured in what I thought was a wonderful fantasy image, but another beautiful scene really caught my eye of some sort of pixie creatures hanging out by a body of water.
This guy represents my experience with the book really, it’s cute and friendly looking, just begging for a hug.
But then this guy represents what I am being warned I’ll experience in the next book…
That’s just terrifying!
So if the Shamutanti Hills equals The Shire, I guess I’m heading to Mordor!