By Raymond Johnson.
I Purchased Enclave.
Many years ago I owned a game for the original Xbox called Enclave. I've fond memories of playing that game and it was the kind of game where levels could be replayed over and over again collecting more in-game gold along the way. It was not only enjoyable to play the first time round but very replayable. However it was one of those games that didn't work on the Xbox 360 and there was no PlayStation version so I was no longer able to play it.
Recently I found it available on GOG.com but it's also available on similar sites too such as Steam. It's very cheap $5.99 and I was able to pay using PayPal. The download also comes with game manual, wallpapers and avatars. It works on Windows 7, 8 and Windows 10.
I'm going to play from the beginning, while trying not to cheat if possible, and mention highlights of the game in this playthrough. I'm really looking forward to it.
There are multiple characters within this game each with different strengths, abilities and weapons available to them. The more gold you collect the more weapons you can purchase making your mediocre character incredibly powerful. You can also replay levels you've already played in order to collect more gold.
There are two game modes known as the Light Campaign and the Dark Campaign. In other words you can play as the good guys or bad guys. The Dark Campaign isn't available to you until you've completed the Light Campaign at least once so I can't tell you about that until later, but it is a whole lot more fun playing as the bad guys in this game.
The game begins with only one character available to you known as the Knight. He has no weapons to begin with but later finds a sword and shield. He is quite a boring character to be honest but you later unlock another character once you complete the level which is fairly short.
You are already a prisoner in a dungeon while another character, known as the Assassin, taunts you from the adjoining cell as she is about to be rescued. She threatens to kill you but things don't quite go according to plan for her due to her bungling rescuers. Incidentally she is a playable character within the Dark Campaign. The first level is fairly simple and there's lots of hidden gold so have a good search.
Strangely this game doesn't like the taking of screenshots and the image is always incredibly dark. At first I thought this only happened within the cutscenes but I realised in happens within the gameplay too. It basically means for every screenshot I take I need to adjust the contrast and colour saturation manually so the quality ends up not being as good as it would otherwise be, sorry about that.
I'm at the beginning of the second level playing as the Knight. I've met up the Huntress who is in full body armour. I can't play as her until later but even when I do I will still need to purchase her armour using the in-game gold. She's got a very unusual whispery voice even when speaking loudly.
The Huntress is an elf and she has a fair number of weapons at her disposal. She's unable to cast magic but her crossbows and daggers are more than enough for her needs. There's something about playing as an elf, with pointed ears, that gives the game a whole new meaning. Knights and Sorcerers are still human whereas playing as the Huntress means you're not playing as a human at all.
The first level where you have the option to play as her is about escorting a man named Marcus across the village which is full of bad guys. You basically need to help him find certain items and let him through locked doors while protecting him from attack. There's a good amount of gold and secret areas so have a good search. There is a game bug if you travel too far ahead of him where an unlocked door will be locked once more meaning you have to unlock it again, but nothing too serious. There's a nice twist at the end of that level too where a most unexpected type of creature makes its attack.
The level known as the Deserted Temple is one of my faves. It involves rescuing a druid as well as lots of treasure collecting, ghostly apparitions and walking skeletons, but I'll talk about those later.
What I want to talk about is the door puzzle. To be honest it's kind of out of place with the rest of the game. While this game contains a mix of action, stealth, exploration, magic and all kinds of goodies it's in no way a puzzle game yet there is a puzzle to be solved in order to open the locked door. This puzzle is more suited to games like Tomb Raider than Enclave. It is quite simple to solve however once you realise there is a puzzle to be solved. I won't tell you specifically how to do it, but it's basically a matter of standing on the larger coloured tiles in the order of the pattern of the smaller tiles behind. Then stand in the middle and the door will unlock and remain unlocked.
There are more tiles inside that set of dart traps that lose you some energy if you get hit. You can also use them to lure enemies by getting them to chase you. On this particular level the druid appears to be immune from harm so don't worry about letting her run off alone after you rescue her.
I had to reinstall the game and restart from the beginning due to changing from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Luckily GOG.com allows free subsequent downloads so there was no need to pay a second time. It works with Windows 10 but the rare bug or two, such as the character continuing to walk when the key isn't being pressed, tends to be more prominent, but it could be a coincidence. If that does happen press the Windows key to return to desktop then return to the game as this usually fixes it.
There are many of these secret areas scattered around and I'm a long way from finding them all. One of the features of this game is the ability to replay levels you've already played in order to search for more treasure. It'll even tell you how much gold you've found and how much there is available to find on each particular level. But there are other secrets too that reveal such things as one of the game creator's names in lights. You don't gain anything from finding them but it's a surprise especially when you discover one by accident.
The best way to find them is to kill all the bag guys first on a particular level but instead of exiting walk around and have a thorough search. The rooftops are a good place to search and remember that even the tiniest ledge can still be traversed.
Each level within this game is displayed as a new location on your map but every so often you'll get two new locations. If it's green it's a location you've already visited but if it's highlighted as yellow then it's either new or a location you haven't completed.
A survival location isn't part of the main story and is simply a side quest in order to battle with wave after wave of enemies. When you defeat them all you'll be rewarded with more gold. Sometimes a new more challenging survival mode will be unlocked rewarding you with even more gold if you're victorious. You can still finish the game without playing a single survival level but more gold means more weapons and armour so it's a good idea to have a go, even if you're defeated you can still return to the main game.
Health Restoration Pool.
On the Deserted Temple level is a pool of clear sparking water that will partially restore your health whenever you step into it causing a chime sound. Jump up and down repeatedly and it will restore your health to its fullest. You pass this pool a number of times during this level so it's a good to give yourself a quick plunge whenever you feel the need. There's no limit to the number of times you can do this. It looks refreshing too as even for a fairly old game the water effects look wonderful. The monsters and bad guys are also able to enter the pool but it doesn't appear to have the same restoring effect upon them.
One of the features of this game is that even though it's linear gameplay, with one level following from the next and so forth, there isn't always the usual entrance and exit. In the Deserted Temple for instance your mission is to rescue a druid, collect treasure and a map, then leave through the same doorway you entered. This means you essentially explore the entire temple complex and leave the same way you came, while killing lots of enemies along the way.
With a little planning, especially if you've played this level already, you can use the pool to restore your energy without you ever needing to use a single health potion.
Each level contains a series of checkpoints, just in case you unfortunately die and need to respawn, which on many levels can happen fairly often. The game will only save your current position once you finish the level so the checkpoints are just a temporary measure whilst playing.
Each resembles a golden statue of a female warrior raising a sword and shield. In front of the statue is a small platform that reminds me of weighing scales, you don't actually need to step upon it for the checkpoint to activate, you simply need to be in its general proximity. It will light up and a chime will play once you get close.
If you activate a checkpoint then later die you will respawn at its location. When you continue and progress further in the level but then die again you will still respawn at the same location but your progress will still be stored. So if you killed five monsters for instance then die you won't have to kill those same monsters again even if you activated the checkpoint earlier within the level.
This has to been one of the most frustrating levels in the game. It took me a number of attempts but I finally got through it, which was down to luck and persistence rather than skill. It's not that difficult in terms of monsters, most of which are skeletons, but it's more of a case of trying to avoid falling to your death.
There are lots of hidden goodies scattered around the levels. Pots of gold and crystals, some of which are hidden in plain sight but just out of reach as if to tease you. They are all accessible so long as you risk traversing a narrow ledge above boiling lava.
There's a checkpoint about half way through the level but what's frustrating about it is that it's a fair distance away from the collapsing platform near the end. All the skeletons you already destroyed will still remain dead when you respawn at the checkpoint but it can still be annoying having to make your way along the same area of the game time after time only to die on the same collapsing platform. Eventually you'll work out how to time your jumps to get past but then there are more skeletons and a particularly large one. I found it was best to play as the Wizard on this level as his staff is particularly powerful.
The Astral Staff.
If you play as the Druid and select the Astral Staff there is more than just a burst of magic energy at your disposal. In fact the magic energy resembles a flock of flying birds that will follow your enemy which is cool in its own right.
But there is secondary magic too that the other staffs do not possess. If you hold down the left mouse button, rather than a simple click, then the Druid will cast a spell and create a powerful troll-like companion that will physically attack anyone in your way. He's not indestructible and will die, but you can easily re-summon him. Once he's summoned you can still use the usual burst of magic birds as usual.
His main advantage is for when you're surrounded by a large group of enemies and you need to keep some of them busy while you battle the others.
I was having difficulty today on a level known as Kam-Zara. Basically you have to escort a Wizard to a door then leave him there and search for three components that form a key then he will open the door. Luckily he's not one of those feeble characters that some games have when an escort mission takes place, his powers and abilities far outway any playable character. Leaving him on his own isn't a problem.
The problem however is the amount of bad guy characters that you have to get past in order to search for the components that form the key. I was constantly dying and having to replay the level over and over again, changing characters, trying to select someone who was stronger. In the end I played as the Halfling.
Then I decided not to bother searching for the key components or attacking anyone. I simply ignored the bad guys and ran around the level exploring until I came across a checkpoint. The unique style in the way checkpoints work in this game is that it still keeps track of what you've done even after you die and return to the said checkpoint. I was able to die multiple times and respawn knowing my gained progress was still being saved. It's kind of like having an endless life cheat. That difficult level became fairly easy in the end.
Incidentally there's a lot of gold on the Kam-Zara level so have a good look around. There are a lot of traps too involving spikes so take care, you can even lure bad guys into them. Another thing I discovered is that while your character is a good swimmer bad guys aren't and will always drown very quickly.
Now it's time for some real fun where the game flips upon its head and you essentially re-play the entire game from the bad guys' point of view. The Dark Campaign can only be played after completing the Light Campaign, or if you cheat by downloading someone else's savegame file.
In many ways you don't actually play a bad person as such, for you're forced to do evil things by an evil witch named Mordessa, so you can think of yourself as a good person if you wish. There's also a choice at the end of the Dark Campaign as to your reward because I've played it before, but I'll come to that later.
You play as the same character that died in the opening scene of the Light Campaign and are sent on errands to do Mordessa's evil bidding. She herself isn't a playable character which is a shame because she clearly has an abundant amount of powers at her disposal.
The opening of the Dark Campaign is similar to the Light Campaign with a narrator speaking while turning the pages of a book. The narrator is male rather than female however and it's odd hearing the same story told from the point of view of other characters.
This level is actually quite frightening. You begin with no weapons and have to search for them, luckily they are not too far from where you spawned. There are ghosts and skeletons about too along with traps. Within the distance you can hear the ghosts and other eerie noises and sounds but I won't say too much as to avoid spoiling any surprises. There are lots of secrets too with hidden pots of gold. Once you discover the crystal itself you have to actually walk into it rather than pick it up.
There's also the sense that Mordessa is watching over you, making sure you don't run away. It is her that sends the portal for your return after each mission. She does have a reward for you once you fully finish the game but I won't say too much as to what it actually consists of.
I'm constantly amazed at the amount of artwork that appears in this game. The paintings in the background, which technically are far easier to create than the rest of the level, are still a splendour for the eyes and prove how talented the game's designers truly are. They fit in with the overall feel of the game too with paintings contemporary to the time in which it's set.
I was tempted to show a lot more screenshots of the paintings here but decided to keep some back as to avoid spoilers. There are a vast amount with this game being full of eye-candy. Pay particular attention to the paintings of castles as I'm sure they are the same castles that you explore within the game itself.
These paintings often have signatures too in the form of a symbol and I wonder if that's the true artist or simply for the sake of realism for the game.
For a fairly old game there are some amazing water effects and it's on par with the graphics of modern games when it comes to water. There's a definite feeling of wetness to the sea and lots of shiny reflections. The swimming animation is neat too. I suppose the only negative about the graphics is that your character remains dry once leaving the water.
The are multiple instances for needing to swim, but in most cases it's to evade enemies because apparently none of them can swim and will invariably drown if they make an attempt. But there is a level in particular that involves a lot of underwater swimming that's essential in order to progress.
Sometimes the game doesn't like for you to swim too far and a leaving mission message will appear on the screen or in some cases a shark!
Level 8 known as Capture Jasindra is the best level in this entire game. The premise is to simply kill all the enemies you see until the end of the level where, with the assistance of another character you meet along the way, you capture Princess Jasindra. Her guards incidentally are sleeping so you're surrounded by them as they awaken. Jasindra is knocked unconscious and you carry her to the exit portal. It's done in a very odd way with her vanishing from the screen once you pick her up and her face appearing in your inventory.
There's a lot of gold and jewels hidden around the level too so make sure to have a good search. Try not to fall into the sea as the respawn appears bugged with you reappearing in the water and dying over and over again. Ironically some parts of the sea are swimmable.
What's amazing about this level, setting it apart from the others, is that it's vast as you make your way through the forest. In many ways this is an illusion as the trees often block your path but it's a feast for the eyes to see the waterfall and gentle stream leading to the sea. There's the sound of the wind, birdsong, and leaves falling from the trees along with the atmospheric background music.
Elven Elite Huntress.
The Elven Elite Huntress makes a number of appearances throughout the Dark Campaign. While she is a playable character within the Light Campaign she's also a versatile character and a formidable one too when she's your enemy.
She has various looks depending on the amount of armour she wears ranging from ordinary cloth to a full suite of armour. Her fighting style varies too. Sometimes she attacks one bolt at a time using her crossbow while at other times she will load up multiple bolts at a time. What I find particularly fascinating is when I approach too close for her to use the crossbow she will change weapon and use her knife instead. She grunts with annoyance between deeps breaths frustrated that I'm not dead yet.
A Big Decision.
I'm at the end of level 11 of the Dark Campaign known as Ungard Mines and it's time to return through the portal Mordessa left for me and claim my reward. I've been loyal to her throughout the Dark Campaign so I'm sure she has a big surprise waiting for me. But it appears someone else has left another portal for me but I have no idea as to who it could be. Should I trust the stranger and betray Mordessa having no idea as to what awaits me? It's a big decision and I'm sure a very important one. I'll use Mordessa's portal first and claim the reward I deserve. If it doesn't work out for me I can always replay the level.
Incidentally this is a particularly difficult level with lots of hidden snipers using crossbows so don't be surprised if it takes a number of attempts. Just be patient and take out one enemy at a time. Wear full armour too.
I've finally completed this game so thought I'd summarise what I thought about it listing both good and bad aspects. I won't mention the ending itself other than is was relatively easy, but on many ways that could count as a good thing.
There's a warm cosy feeling to this game, with atmospheric graphics that are brilliantly lit that fit perfectly within the style of gameplay. The story feels as though it should have been an RPG yet it steers firmly away from that aspect of gameplay. Some parts of the game play best as a hack and slash while other parts are more stealthy. The vast choice of characters with differing abilities changes the style of the game. In other words two people can play this game and get an entirely different experience from it. I personally preferred to play as characters that wielded magic while still keeping a dagger at my side.
Just as with the graphics the music is equally atmospheric ranging from exciting battle music to general background sound which never ceases throughout the game. The theme when quitting the game is wonderfully done too with a female voice chanting in what sounds to be an ancient language.
I personally found the Dark Campaign far more enjoyable than the Light Campaign and while there was less choice of characters it still possessed varied gameplay. However the Dark Campaign cannot be played without playing the Light Campaign first. In many ways this saves the best until last but I could imagine a lot of people never getting that far and missing a lot of the fun.
There were a number of annoyances but not enough to ruin the game. The initial game intro was constantly annoying but easy to skip by pressing the enter key. On occasion the background music became clippy like a stuck record but it would quickly fix itself. There was also a bug where the character I was playing would continue to move forward while my finger wasn't touching the forward control. Pressing the Windows key to display the computer desktop then returning to the game would fix the bug. The game subtitles contained the occasional word change to what a character was actually saying and never stuck with a consistent spelling of the word "honour" but that's not really important. Incidentally I started playing on Windows 7 then changed to Windows 10, and I noticed that taking screenshots using the Print Screen button appears to have been improved using Windows 10, as they tended to be far darker with Windows 7.
Another interesting note during the end credits the voice actors appear to have had other roles within the making of the game. Some are games designers rather than professional voice actors. This didn't effect the game in any negative way however but I just thought is was interesting.
This game has lots of replay value especially in that you can pick and choose your fave level rather than restarting from the beginning. There's plenty to explore when replaying the game with lots of hidden gold and jewels scattered around each level. There's also an online community of fans that have made customised skins so you can replay as your favourite character wearing a new costume. If you're stuck on the game, having never fully completed it, you can even download other people's savegame files.