Announcing Escape From Cnossus

2013-07-10

Hot on the heels of Spectral Dungeons, here comes my second roguelike for the ZX Spectrum. Developed in half the time (due to the reuse of more than half the code, not to mention the added experience), Escape from Cnossus improves on the formula with a less generic theme, more complex and pretty levels and interesting decisions to make.

On the development side, all the memory saved by going with "ironman" gameplay filled up very fast with the new, more flexible drop tables. Even the removal of an entire level generator barely made room for the improvements in the remaining one. The one net gain was speed; I was finally able to make the stats refresh once at the end of each turn, as forcefully requested by a friend. That in turn allowed me to show how many turns of light you have left on your torch -- tactical awareness for the win!

Gameplay-wise, the most significant change is the addition of jars and coffers, which give you both a reason to explore and a calculated risk to take: do you expose yourself to attack by going for that container out of the way, or do you bet it's empty and leave it behind?

I've also learned something about my own game: at first, finding drops from monsters in newly uncovered parts of a level seemed like a bug. Then I remember making the mobs fight each other, something I've never actually witnessed (it's apparently rare), but obviously does happen.

Lucky me, because this new game isn't quite as well balanced as its predecessor. I could only come up with so many thematic monsters, and properly spreading them across twice as many levels wasn't easy. But while success seems to depend on luck a little more than was planned, it's still better in this regard than most roguelikes. To my surprise, it only took me a few attempts to start winning. Presumably, someone who doesn't know the game as well as I do will find it more difficult.

Which is just how a roguelike should be, after all. So, enjoy!

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