Monday, October 11, 2010

Other games similar to Baldur's Gate

This is a revision of my original post, since I have more items to add and better information about some of the games.

It's too early for me to cast my wandering eye about, but my newfound taste for this kind of game has made me curious to find what other games exist with the same kind of style and gameplay. Basically, a party-based RPG with lots of quests, free exploration, and probably an isometric display. I do have to restrict things to a certain level of quality, at least graphic-wise, though. Turn-based or realtime with pause, and the option to speed things up are definite pluses. Here's a list of games like Baldur's Gate, with links to gameplay videos to serve as examples.

The ones closest in feel and gameplay to Baldur's Gate are of course the Icewind Dale games, though these don't have any party banter, since you have to create every character in your party. Second closest is Planescape: Torment. After that, there aren't any more Infinity Engine games, so what is "close" branches out further in several directions.

Dragon Age: Origins is the closest "modern" equivalent to the Baldur's Gate games that I know of, followed closely by Drakensang: The Dark Eye. Dragon Age: Origins is of course the game that got me into this cRPG genre in the first place, and although I don't actually play it in the isometric view, it does offer one. It's not necessary for my purposes that the games be D&D based, nor even fantasy, but it seems most of them on this list are.

The Temple of Elemental Evil is a turn-based D&D game, and like the Icewind Dale games, you have to create your whole party (or choose from stock characters), and there's no BG or DA:O-style party bantering. I've heard a lot about the horrible bugs in Temple of Elemental Evil, but I've also read that they've been fixed by official patches and fan mods, like what I found here: The Circle of Eight modpack. (Release notes for latest version as of this posting)

After those, the games by Interplay/Black Isle/Troika offer a somewhat different, but very enjoyable set of RPGs, those being Arcanum, Fallout 1 and 2, and Lionheart. The main difference here is that although you can have a party of NPCs (at least in the first 3; I'm not sure about Lionheart), you can't control them directly. You can access their inventory and equip them, but I find part of the game is preventing them from rushing into large groups of enemies. It's doable, though, and once you get the hang of it, the games are enjoyable.

I haven't played the other games in the list, so I can't say where Pool of Radiance fits in the lineup, nor where Eschalon and the Spiderweb games fit, though those are independent titles, and are graphically much more primitive than any of the others on this list. I did buy Eschalon: Book 2 just a few days ago, though, due to a nice sale on Steam, so I should be able to say something about it at some point.

Neverwinter Nights 2 is a new addition to this list. When I wrote this list originally, I had assumed that it followed the same party style as NWN1 (AI-controlled party members), but in fact the sequel gives you full control over your party. See my other coverage of this game for more details.

Close, but not quite:
  • Neverwinter Nights 1
  • Sacred 2: Fallen Angel

NWN has a lot of the right elements, but there's no real "party". You can hire "henchmen", but you can't control them directly as in the other games. It has a gigantic modding community, though, with thousands of adventure mods and some graphic mods which might actually make the ugly blocky 3D characters look decent.

Sacred 2 looks beautiful, but seems to be solo as well. I'm not quite sure where it falls in a scale between "hack & slash" and "RPG".

The Fallout games as well have a lot of the right elements, and I'll probably want to play them at some point, but as far as I can tell, you go the whole game solo (I'm speaking here of the first two Fallout games, of course, since I've already played and modded Fallout 3).

I'm generally not counting hack & slash games like Diablo or Torchlight, and Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone looks like it's in that style.

Games I haven't had time to research yet

These look promising, from what little I've seen of them:

I would welcome any additional pointers for other games that fit the criteria.


  1. Fallout 1 & 2 allow you to recruit followers, but you don't get direct control over them. They follow you around and fight for you, but they rely on their own AI and sometimes do really stupid things. Never give them automatic weapons, they don't care how much friendly fire they cause with them!

    In FO1 you can give them new weapons, but they only use specific kinds of weapons and always stick with their low grade armor and if they don't have enough action poits to reaload and attack they will reload and switch to a backup weapon or their fists. That would be fine, except they aren't smart enough to switch back to the primary weapon on the next turn.

    In FO2 you get much better control over your followers. You can also give them better armor and you can adjust the priorities in their combat style (such as avoid friendly fire). Though individual followers may have limitations to these setting. Sulik the tribal for example can't be set to the highest caution settings and you can't set Vic the trader to fight until death.

    I also don't remember them chatting with each other the way party members in BG or DA do.

  2. "Septera Core" is scifi-ish and pretty different, party based, no free exploration as I recall though. I played it a very long time ago. I recall having fun with it, though it seemed to me like the game was made by a huge fan of Final Fantasy 7 ;)

    Ohh Dungeon Siege and the pack mule <3 Had a lot of fun in that game, though never finished. Love the way it starts. You can spend soooo many hours lost, and I simply love that on a game!

    I've tried Neverwinter Nights, but it did not catch me, difficult to tell why.

    Btw, atm I'm playing LotRO and Vindictus, but GOG is now selling Age of Wonders, the sequence and the expansion, so I might have to spend money and some time of my life replaying that (it's a turn based strategy game with units and map exploring, little magical armies, etc).

  3. @Dragatus:
    I prefer to micromanage my followers, but I have plenty of experience with the companion mods for Oblivion (Companion Share & Recruit and CM Partners) and Fallout 3 (Sharing & Caring Companions, as well as the vanilla followers), so I'm fairly savvy about dealing with stupid AI who run right in front of you as you're shooting a poisoned arrow or casting a spell, but it's really a pain. BG was a real breath of fresh air in that regard. Still, I'll see what Fallout 1 and 2 has to offer.

    I've heard Septerra Core mentioned before in the same breath as other games I like, so it has appeared on my radar, at least. The Wikipedia article about it wasn't quite enough to convince me to play it, though. Perhaps I should look at some gameplay videos. I only played a little bit of FF7, and it was a long time ago, so I consider myself to have not yet really played any JRPGs, or anything inspired by a JRPG. I'll want my first experience with them to be the prime example of the genre, so as not to sour my impression of the whole genre.

    I've noticed Age of Wonders on GOG. I've read over its page several times and viewed the screenshots, and I have to say I'm very curious about it, though it seems to be a different kind of game altogether. I don't think I've played anything like it yet. Can you compare it to some other games I might know better?

  4. Japanese RPGs? Hmmm, I do not know which would be playable on a computer. The playstation ones you can play using a good emulator though. And the last one I played was Final Fantasy X-2, so I have no idea on the new ones:
    - In Final Fantasy, you control a party of characters, there are some free exploring, but very few (if any in some cases) side quests. You walk around a cenario and battles will spawn out of nowhere, loading a new cenario, and then each character or enemy will have a turn to attack. Final Fantasy tactics is the different one, it feels like playing with RPG characters in a game board, kinda like the battle system in Age of Wonders I'd say.
    - Breath of Fire, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross are other videgame tittles that were a lot of fun to me. From all of those, Chrono Trigger had the best story, imo. They all let you control more then one character, and aside from Secret of Mana, they are all turn based, separate screen battle based, like Final Fantasy. On Secret of Mana, it's real time battles.
    - Kingdom Hearts is real time battles, and mixes Disney and Final Fantasy games. It is very cute, fun, but you only control one character. And I'll admit, it's the kind of game I don't feel like playing again, because you get to miss the new powers you get during the gameplay so much!

    As for Age of Wonders... it does seems a little like "Heroes of Might and Magic" and "Lords of Magic": you control parties of armies around maps, you have cities to make units, spells, battles are in hexagonal fields. There are gold and mana resources, little dungeons to explore in the same hexagonal field style, relics and magical items the heroes can use.

  5. Oh, would you know anything about the "Impulse" website? It's looks like a better deal to find new games also. And specially to me, their Age of Wonders deal is cheaper to get the whole collection :)

  6. I didn't know anything about Impulse, but I just looked at it, and I see it's developed by Stardock. Stardock publishes a couple of games that have no DRM, so that's a good sign. This Impulse looks like it's based heavily on Steam, though, which has pros and cons. It appears to require downloading and maintaining games through a special client, like Steam, and I can't find any information on whether you have to log in to their service to play the games as you do on Steam. That's the thing I don't like about Steam. It adds an extra delay to launching my games, even for games that wouldn't otherwise have had any DRM, and then there's always the worry about whether they'll be able to follow through on their promise of removing the activation system if they shut Steam down. That's basically why I don't have any Steam games on my wish list. I only buy them when they're so cheap I wouldn't mind quite so much if they disappeared.

    What I like about GOG is that you don't need a download client (they have one, but I've never used it, just download with the browser or my own download manager), and you get the game's install files, so you're never relying on the service always being active.

    The Impulse tour video didn't answer my questions, and neither did their FAQ. I'll look for more info elsewhere.

    As for JRPGs, I'm sure there are some Final Fantasy games on the PC...I think there's a list of JRPGs on the PC somewhere. I just haven't looked for it yet. I played a little of a FF game once, but I didn't like how slow the battles were, especially against inconsequential random monsters. I also didn't like the "battle stage", where your party and the enemy/enemies stood on opposite sides of the screen. I prefer to have some tactical input in the positioning of the characters. And I would like to be able to speed up the battles. That's the only thing I'm worried about for other RPGs than the ones I've been playing. They've had the ability to speed up the walking and fighting, but will others be able to do the same? I guess I'd be best to look at Secret of Mana first. :)