Nethergate: Resurrection - turn-based RPG review

Genre: Turn-based RPG
Format: Download/CD
Developer: Spiderweb Software, Inc.
Minimum System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.3, 50MB RAM, 50MB hard disk space, 800x600 screen resolution with 16 bit color
Review Computer: 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo 20" iMac, 2GB RAM, 256MB ATI Radeon graphics card
Network Feature: None
Processor Compatibility: Universal
Price: $25.00 download (also available on CD and with handbook)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Availability: Now
Demo: (17MB)
Official Website:

You have not played a true role-playing game until you have played one of Spiderweb Software's, and Nethergate: Resurrection is no exception to this rule. While many of the features and the interface will be familiar to those who have played other Spiderweb Software games, what sets Nethergate: Resurrection apart is that it takes place in ancient Brittania when the Celts and the Romans battled each other for supremacy. You are chosen to take a pivotal role in deciding the fate of a land where magic and myth are quickly fading away.

Nethergate Resurrection

The first step of the game is to create your party of characters. Fortunately, when you start a new game and pick your side (Romans or Celtics), you are given a pre-made party of four characters that's good enough so you can start playing right away. If you don't like them or have your own idea of a perfect party, you can delete them and start over from scratch. You have the strong melee fighters using swords or spears, the ranged fighters with javelins or slings, and the casters who either heal or attack with magic. You can also learn how to make potions and bandages so even your non-magic users can heal and buff themselves.

As an added twist, there are character traits you can use to make each character unique, but with an experience penalty for traits that make your character stronger and an experience bonus for traits that make your character weaker. So, you can make a fighter very fast, which means he can move further in battle and use more actions, but he'll also takes longer to level up. You can take up to two character traits (or none at all), so if you wanted, you could take a negative trait—such as having bad luck or low health—and reduce or eliminate the experience penalty.

Fortunately, you don't have to have a "perfect" party to succeed, especially if you turn down the difficulty to Easy from the default (Normal). There have been some folks who play with a single character on Torment level and do very well. Of course, you may have a more difficult time with some groups than others, but there are enough options that I think you could succeed with almost any combination. If all of this is overwhelming, just stick with the default party given to you and start your adventures.

Nethergate: Resurrection

One of the main weaknesses in most computer role-playing games is that you actually have very little control over your characters and where you can go and what you can do. You're led from one town to the next, and you can't really explore since all of the encounters are scripted to take place in a certain order. Nethergate: Resurrection is the complete opposite; almost from the beginning, you can go anywhere in the game you want.

Just be sure to save early and often! There's no sign out front saying "For levels 10 and up only," so usually finding out that the den of spiders was too tough happened when my party died. So, I'd reload, mark the location mentally as one to return to when I was tougher and wiser, and move on to somewhere else.

While there is a main story and main quests that you have to do to drive the story forward, there are a lot of side quests and locations to find and explore that don't have anything to do with the main story and can be completed in any order. The rewards from these quests are excellent and add to the environment and story of Shadowvale. However, they can be skipped entirely, and if you don't find them, you won't be penalized.

Nethergate: Resurrection

So what is the story of Nethergate: Resurrection? You can decide to play as either the Romans or the Celtics, both of which have conflicting goals.

The Celtics are under siege from the Roman Empire and are struggling to free their lands from subjugation by working with and sometimes against the native mystical elements of Britannia, called Sidhe. The Sidhe will help you, but only if you help them in return with some mysterious purpose they only hint at.

The Romans view the natives of Brittania as little more than savages who are getting in their way of bringing order and law to a chaotic world. Your purpose is to crush the rebellion that is brewing in Shadowvale, and yet you can't entirely avoid the Sidhe who are part of the land. They may want to work with you or use you, but avoiding them is impossible.

This means that you have double the play time as well as getting both sides of the story and understanding why the Romans and Celtics did what they did. You also have a slightly different play style, because the Celtics rely more on magic to heal, buff, open locked doors and break magic barriers, while the Romans use potions, lock picking, and magical tools to do the same thing. The Romans also have special Roman Training, so they can wear stronger and heavier armor than the Celtics can.

Along the way, you'll find other threats, such as the Roman who came upon a magical artifact and decided that it was the perfect starting point to create an empire of his own. Naturally such a dangerous figure must be stopped, and you're just the party for the job. Other problems are smaller, but no less important—from a lost child's toy ball to messages needing delivery between cantankerous hermits to a goblin infestation you're hired to eliminate. You could skip these if you wanted to, but part of the joy of a role-playing game are the side quests, and these are fun without being a burden. The rewards are appealing enough that it's worth your while to play them.

Nethergate: Resurrection

These stories and quests are mainly told through dialog with characters and descriptions that are written as text, so you'll have to use your imagination.

As an example, one of the early quests has you come across an evil shrine with pictures on the side depicting horrendous acts and blood dripping down from sacrifices. You don't see the actual shrine because, in the game, the shrine looks like all of the other evil shrines. All of this is in the description that appears when you approach it, giving you the option of leaving it alone or destroying it. So you have to use your imagination to picture what the shrine looks like based on the description.

Later in the game, you'll come across an unusual group of people called Selkies, who turn from humans to seals, and who are misunderstood and threatened by those around them. They describe their sadness and desire to be alone to live their life, and their leader asks you to help them so they can have some peace. Does the music change to reflect their sad plight? Is there a close-up of a Selkie's tear-stained face? No. You'll have to read and use your imagination.

In fact, if you only play games to be wowed by the graphics, you'll probably want to stay away from Nethergate: Resurrection and probably all Spiderweb Software games. You'll be missing out on a lot, but to say that many of the graphics and sound effects are reused would be an understatement.

Nethergate: Resurrection

In all role playing games, you spend a lot of your time attacking evil foes. In Nethergate: Resurrection combat is turn-based. What this means is that everyone gets four action points which get used up when the characters move, use potions or scrolls or wands, and attack. When all of their action points are used up then the next fastest character (whether an enemy or in your party) gets to move, and so on until every character has acted and a new round begins.

What I like is that you can use your keyboard to quickly cast spells or whack foes with swords or use a ranged weapon, and even to select a target. Or, you can use your mouse and do the same thing, depending on what best suits your play style. You can also use the keyboard or mouse to move around the battlefield, pick up loot, start and end battles, and everything else, really.

Combat is easy and simplistic, which may not suit some folks, but I like not having to have a bachelors degree in math to maximize my damage output or wear out my fingers pushing buttons. Plus, you can always leave the game and do something else without having your party wiped out in the process, since nothing happens if you don't do anything. So combat isn't exciting, but it gets the job done with minimal fuss.

What I would have liked are some hot keys to which I could assign commonly used items and spells, because using potions or wands meant going to the inventory and finding the one you want. All wands look alike, so they're not easy to find. My caster usually used healing spells, so I would be typing "c" to bring up the spells, "a" to pick the heal spell, and then 1-4 to pick the party member over and over and over again. Putting them in a more easily accessible location would have been very handy. Other Spiderweb games have this option, so I was surprised that Nethergate: Resurrection doesn't.

Nethergate: Resurrection

Nethergate: Resurrection is a worthy addition to the game collections of both role playing aficionados and those who want a fun game with a great story and freedom to go where you want to. It won't wow you with breath-taking graphics and music, but the gameplay will keep you entertained for hours.

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