Albion is admittedly, a game that even I
hadn't heard of until recently. I was doing my usual random browsing of the interwebs, and came across a lovely abandonware site. Checking out the RPG section, because of course I'm an RPG whore, there was mention of a game called Albion which seemed to be getting pretty decent reviews. The first thing I noticed was that the game started me off aboard a spaceship, which already set it apart from most other RPGs that I come across. RPG...in SPAAAAAAACE!
Playing more like a console RPG than a normal PC one, characters are well defined, and there is no way to pick classes, change names, etc. What they give you is what you get. Anyway. You are sent on a mission to check out a supposedly desert planet, one that is supposed to become home to a new mining operation. Upon nearing the planet however, the shuttle malfunctions, and ends up going down. To the surprise of yourself and your companion, the planet isn't barren at all, and is the home to a sentient race, only the third such known race in the universe.
My..my..how expository of you.
After meeting with the local chief, the two decide to head off to find their ship, as the cruiser they came on was supposed to land on the planet to start mining operations. Much of the game takes place in the overhead view, and much of the game is based around puzzles and exploration, and not combat. However, in certain areas, the game switches to a 3D view, allowing for exploration in "dungeon" areas.
How very Ultima Underworld...
Enemies roam the underground passages, and when encountering them, the game switches to combat mode.
At the beginning of combat, the party is arranged in the formation set ahead of time, and enemies are spread on the grid. Each participant can be given a single order, whether it's move to another square, attack, use an item, or flee. After all orders are entered, they play out in the 3D window, after which the turn window appears again, etc. Combat can be tough to start, as Lv 1 characters don't seem to have a good hit rate.
Hey man, what you doin' all the way over there?
In the end, it's an interesting setting for an RPG, away from the standard tales of knights and sorcerers. The world is beautifully represented in the height of 1995 SVGA, and the design of the alien world makes it appear...well...alien. The script seems to be well written, with fleshed out personalities for major characters, and no major grammatical or spelling errors. Combat is tough, and the 3D sequences feel a slight
bit tacked on, but they don't detract from it that much. All interaction with the game is mouse-driven, so it's easy to control as well. It was released in 1996 by BlueByte software, and although is probably still sold somewhere, it's not too
difficult to find around abandonware sites if you really want to find it.
Final note: Although I'm running it within DosBOX in these screenshots, that was merely for the purpose of taking the screenshots. I had no problem getting it running under WindowsXP. Your mileage may vary.