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September 11th 2014, 05:46 PM
Bard Male United States
Please Cindy, say the whole name each time. 
169: Bane of the Magi Author: Ric Release Date: September 4, 2003

Something seems a tad suspicious here...

"Bane of the Magi" is a game that presents you with a couple of choices that effect the story and gameplay. Dink can be either good or evil, either a warrior or a mage, and he may also choose to learn the way of thievery. All of these decisions are independent from one another. This is handled a lot more successfully than "Friends Beyond 2," which conflated the warrior/mage decision with the good/evil one. This mod doesn't involve totally separate paths like that one did, but if you enjoy it and don't have 177 DMODs lined up to play like I do, it might be worth playing a second time to see how the other characters treat Dink differently when he's evil.

The game starts out assuming you're good. You have to go around killing a lot of innocent people before it decides you're evil. People might notice and comment on the fact that you've done lesser misdeeds, but the good/evil switch is a binary one, and you really can't flip it on accident. It is possible to become "good" again by giving money to beggars. I played as good Dink. It sounds to me like being evil makes things a bit more difficult for the most part, as you have to sneak around with characters who are glad to help you if you're good.

On a couple of occasions, the DMOD scales Dink down and reduces his speed to convey a scene on a grand scale.

The warrior/mage choice is presented more directly, in a choice menu. If you decide to be a warrior, you can only have one spell at a time; conversely, if you decide to be a mage, you can only have one weapon at a time (both of these restrictions are in effect before you make your decision, which isn't explained and just seems like a weird bug). Furthermore, you can talk to a certain character to receive a new spell or weapon after each level up depending upon which path you choose. This goes up to level 8. I liked this feature, as it gives you a good reason to gain experience. As you might guess, there are new weapons and spells. New weapons include a sword that heals one point of health when you strike an enemy and a bow that stuns foes. New spells include invisibility, healing and a warp spell. I chose to be a warrior, but I think either choice would be fine. It's possible to buy any of the weapons or spells at any rate. If you wanted to be a mage, I'd stick with the throwing axe as your one weapon. It's what I used the most anyway.

Nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything.

A hidden character you can find will teach Dink how to be a thief. This seems unrelated to whether you're good or evil, so there's no reason not to do this. As a thief, Dink can pick many locked doors and has a secret/trap sense. If you press the H key, Dink will tell you whether there is a trap or a secret nearby, and traps will become visible. In order to pick some locks, you'll have to increase your thievery skills by stealing little piles of gold that people have lying around. I think thievery is required in order to get the herb boots.

This waterfall looks pretty good despite only using the default graphics.

This DMOD can be quite difficult to figure out on one's own. You aren't given much direction early on, and I wasted a lot of time trying to stumble upon the way to proceed. There's a walkthrough on the Dink Solutions and a "BaneHints.txt" file included in the DMOD's directory; you might want to read both of these, as each contains information about the DMOD that the other does not.

Much of the DMOD is set in a fairly large (for a DMOD) town. The people are oppressed by a guy who calls himself the "Bringer of Light." If you're evil, you apparently end up on his side for a while, but you still end up having to defeat him in the end, which is kind of disappointing. I would have liked to see a good and an evil ending. There is a sort of evil ending, but it's unconnected to which path you've chosen. When you beat the end boss, you get the implement he intended to use to take over the world - a powerful weapon not meant for mortal hands. When you hit an enemy with it, they're struck by powerful lighting. If for some reason this fails to kill them in one hit, the lightning continues to strike them until they are dead. If you go around killing the townsfolk with this, eventually you'll get a bad ending. For me, however, the game would always crash.

The Duck Gods punish Dink for his transgressions by crashing the game. Harsh, but fair.

There's a surprisingly big quest here. Dink must travel to the afterlife in order to retrieve an artifact. He must travel through both Hell and Heaven.

Charon ferries Dink across the river Styx. With the background a simple black, the boat travel is shown by moving all of the OTHER objects on the screen. This effect works better here than in other attempts I've seen previously.

A chilling sight in Hell: the damned march into the flames...

...And emerge as skeleton warriors.

I approve of those brick paths made from the dungeon floor tiles.

As much cool stuff as there is going on here, this one does have several drawbacks. Although there are a large number of NPCs in each location, nearly all of the NPCs in an area use the same script. As a consequence, the people don't seem real, and the game feels empty. These generic-NPC conversations aren't very interesting, either. Occasionally, you'll run into an NPC who won't respond to your talk command at all.

Furthermore, the game is quite buggy. My warrior-master would keep handing out the same weapons over and over if I kept talking to him. At level 8 he gives you a +5 defense potion, and this can be repeated. I experienced a few crashes, and the game fails to check whether you have any inventory space when you get important key items. Some NPCs who will talk to you have touch damage, so it's easy to get stuck in a conversation while taking damage constantly. There's a simplified map of the town without a location marker that you can access by pressing the P key, but for some reason you can access the same map by pressing the regular map key, but badly off-center and with a meaningless location marker.

With some more polish, this one could have been a certified classic. Even as it is, it's worth your time, and I'm kind of surprised to see this one not getting more attention. It didn't even have any screenshots. If you've missed out on this one, why not give it a go? I really do recommend following the walkthrough and hint file, though, as the game can be confusing without help.