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NWN/HotU - Witch's Wake Premium Module Review *some spoilers*

Discussion in 'Mod Reviews' started by Spellbound, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. Spellbound

    Spellbound Fleur de Mystique Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Witch’s Wake Premium Module
    Version: v1.1. (Requires NWN 1.64+ and HotU installed)
    Review first posted on: March 16, 2005
    Review updated:
    Mod download location: http://nwn.bioware.com/premium/module_witchwake.html

    Background

    The smell of death hangs over the corpse-strewn battlefield, descending on you like a thick curtain, as you struggle to gain consciousness. With every ragged breath, the stink of open seething wounds fills your lungs, the taste of warm blood on your lips. You try to move... you want to escape this place... this place of the dead. As you turn your head, you see them... corpses strewn as far as the eye can see... but who are they?... what happened here? Confused, you see some of their blood soaked uniforms being ripped apart by frenzied ravens and then look down at your own. Denying the inevitable, you struggle to move, but in vain you fall back to the bloodied grass, exhausted with the effort. As you raise your eyes to the sky in resignation, it is then that you notice the misshapen body in front of you... a body torn and rendered, impaled on a pike for all to see... an example, an omen. As your breath catches in your throat, your eyes move across the gaping wounds... the pain and horror this man must have felt registering all too well. A comrade? A friend? As your eyes slowly move up his torn body to his face... searching for any clue... you suddenly freeze as his brilliant blue eyes lock onto yours... alive... the man is alive. As his tongue rolls over his cracked bleeding lips, he begins to speak...

    Content

    The Witch’s Wake module begins with your character waking up after a battle gone all wrong – bodies litter the ground and injured as you are, your memory is less than stellar. You do discover that there are a couple of live souls around and as you talk with them, you receive your main quest, which partially involves a recurring theme in the NWN modules... finding who and what you are, in relationship to everything around you. While you do get clues along the way from a variety of townspeople, the module is too short for any intense intrigue to build – in fact by the time it does, the module is over.

    The module has a variety of locales to offer: cold dark cemetaries, forests teeming with undead, the Plane of Sorrows and you even meet the infamous Night Hag – who, as it turns out, is critical to your survival. But despite the interesting locations and characters in this module, I found the presence of a narrator to be highly annoying. Relaying a story in part is one thing, but never-ending talking, even on top of other dialogues occurring is something else.

    Gameplay

    Witch’s Wake starts your character out at level 1, with not much chance to rise through many levels – I made it to level 2 before the end of the module and that was about it. To help with initial module questions and issues, I suggest taking a look at the Witch's Wake FAQ, a good source of information for the module, as well as BioWare's Witch's Wake general and technical boards.

    Character creation has been stepped up a bit with the inclusion of 27 new subraces from which to choose. From the Elf Nomad to the Half-Elf Tainted to the Half-Orc Sojourner, there is quite a variety to choose from, if you play a rogue, cleric or bard that is. I didn’t see very many options for a sorcerer as a favored class, which was a disappointment for me.

    The combat in Witch’s Wake seems very well matched to character level throughout the game. I found many of the battles to be somewhat challenging – in fact came across some of the toughest goblins and rats I’ve ever encountered in any game. I didn’t see much in the way of interesting loot though – there were no special weaponry items or significant treasure hordes of any kind.

    Witch’s Wake is played solo. There are no NPCs to create a party with, unfortunately – unless you consider the Narrator, who appears to have some sort of oral intestinal affliction and is with you from start to finish.

    This module also comes with an authentication process that is triggered every time you load up a game. I didn’t find it to be intrusive whatsoever – the authentication took 3 seconds with my cable connection. The unpacking of the module, however, did take quite a bit of time.

    Sound

    Well, contrary to my comments regarding the Kingmaker and Shadowguard module sound effects, I would have to say that the sound in this module was something less than extraordinary – primarily due to the presence of the Narrator throughout the game. I didn’t find the tone of her voice to be annoying, so much as the presence of it. There is one exception however – when she tried to mimic the old male dwarves – it was almost comical, if it wasn’t simply so bad. There were even instances, in the graveyard, where my character steps up to the grave and starts reciting the message on the headstone – only to be outdone by the narrator who is talking on top of her – end result: neither conversation is heard. Aside from that, the music was standard NWN fare – quite enjoyable and great battle songs.

    Visuals

    The visuals in this module were mostly standard NWN graphic displays – well known tilesets of caves and crypts, with the exception of the opening battlefield scene, showing some very unique effects. There were a few NPCs that were somewhat interesting and a few special effects, such as tiny birds of some sort flying around an outside light that were kind of cool, but outside of that, the visuals were quite ordinary.

    Bugs

    I didn’t really experience any bugs in my pass throughs of this module, other than the usual, blocking problems when a familiar may get stuck in a rock wall, or trapped behind a door. I don’t really see these issues particular to this module, per se. As this release, v.1.1, is the latest version produced by Bioware, I expected it to be bug-free and it was.

    Final Thoughts

    Well, it is rare for me to find a game or module boring or annoying, but I will have to say, after 5 times through this module, I didn’t find a whole lot I can recommend about it. I played it through so many times, in the hopes of discovering that a new type of character or new subrace would improve my experience. But that was not the case. The presence of the Narrator pretty much did it in for me – not my cup of tea. The story was passable, but didn’t have enough time to really develop and the monsters fought in combat amounted to rats, goblins and zombies – pretty much run of the mill. And to cap it off – the ending, well, wasn’t really an ending of any sort at all. After a short dialogue with an NPC, you receive the message “Saving to Database. Please stand by.” splattered across your screen, then a blank screen followed by NWN credits... and that’s it. When I first saw that, I thought perhaps my system had crashed and this was just a message reassuring me that the game had been saved – that’s how bad it was. Even Kingmaker and Shadowguard have quasi-endings of a sort. I would expect to see that kind of message on an in-house test copy, not a finished product.

    The one saving grace here is that Witch’s Wake is free, part of the Shadowguard package. And for that, perhaps, we shouldn’t expect much. Is it worth 2-3 hours of gameplay? – I say not, but you may find it different.

    [ July 16, 2005, 23:35: Message edited by: Spellbound ]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2009
  2. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran

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    What a detailed review. Thanks for that. Reviews like this from intelligent people are great for helping us decide what games to spend our limited time on.
     
  3. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    [​IMG] Fixed the screenshot links and a few issues in the text.
     
  4. Spellbound

    Spellbound Fleur de Mystique Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Thanks Harbourboy! :D I wish it could have been a more favorable review (I gave it every shot! ;) ), but in the end I had to write it like I saw it.
     
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