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The NINE GATES of HELL
The sun is setting on this day at the treshold of winter, and the smoke of hundreds of campfires fill the air. Your mind drift away to better times.
It is the 11th. day - of the 11th. month - in the year 1111 of Our Saviour.
The chill of a small breeze brings you back to reality. Your view of the surrounding landscape, your family's possession for countless centuries, is highly disturbed by the hostile presence of an army of disheartening size. You nod to your arms keeper, and he lead the way from the high tower to the hall.
The list of inventory is simple. There is virtually nothing left. All these months of hardship, and hope for relief, has been for nothing. The army surrounding your castle will not leave any time soon, and there is no hope of pardon for you - as well as your loyal fiefs and serfs - following the ferocious defense of your castle and rights of birth. Many an enemy has been slain!
The walls are about to breach, and you see only two options: Surrender, and be tortured to death - or, honourable resistance to the death. The choice is nothing more than hypothetical. You order your arms keeper to call for a last feast this very evening. The little provisions left will fill the stomachs of hungry men and their families, and death will emerge only in the distant future of tomorrow. Children will play and giggle, women will laugh and blush, and men will indulge themselves in competitive brawl and drinking of ale, silently weeping for the destiny about to be fulfilled.
At almost midnight there is still drinking and dancing, when you suddenly feel a presence. You turn rapidly, and sitting next to you is a person obscured by a black hooded robe. You do not hesitate to draw your dagger, and the men present in the hall quickly enclose the stranger.
"Who are you stranger, and what is your intent?" you ask in a voice as calm as possible. You do not understand how this stranger can suddenly sit beside you, as experienced - and alert - guards are on every wall, tower, and gate.
"I am the one who seeks lost souls", says the stranger, "and I see almost countless lost souls in this place!" You are puzzled by this answer and ask again for the strangers name and intent.
"I go by many names of which Ba'al is preferred, but if you will show me respect you may call me Ba'al muian, or Ba'al Z bub!", says the stranger calmly and continues: "If you pledge to honour and serve me for as long as I demand, I shall lead you - and your people - past the besiegers to a safe place. You will not only lose your freedom, but also your fiefdom. For that you have only yourself to blame!"
Your men is visibly discomforted by the situation, but you understand that the renewed sparkle in their eyes is a result of the prospect of escaping certain death - not only themselves, but their entire families.
After a few moments of thought, you answer the stranger calling himself Ba'al: "For the sake of my innocent people I shall let you lead us all to safety. I - and my subjects - wows to serve and to honour you for as long as you may demand!"
Following the strangers instructions, you all gather in the courtyard under the full moon, and awaits further directions. "Form a pentagram around me, and close your eyes, because whoever open an eye just so slightly shall remain in this yard."
The stranger instruct you to open your eyes. You have not moved, yet you are in an alien and gloomy place devoid of all things pleasant, and buzzing with flies. Worst of all, many of your people are missing!
Ba'al says: "Curiosity is an unfortunate human trait. One of MY finest traits is consequense! The missing people could not resist opening an eye. They are now left in the courtyard until morning, when the besiegers storm the castle and decide to rip off their limbs and spill their guts from the ramparts. Their souls shall join me when morning comes, but without the offer I am about to give you!"
"Your clergyman should know me by now. In his sermons he call me The Beast!" Your clergyman turns pale and falls to the ground - dead from fear! "Good", says The Beast, "in this modest part of the divine creation there is not much room for the likes of him, but his soul will do unspeakable things for me!"
The Beast goes on: "If you can break through The Nine Gates of this domain that I call Gehenna, eliminate my Forces of Darkness, and bring me a few jars of black pitch - very black, and very flammable pitch - then I shall release you all in your former world, but free of your enemies, and free of your wows to me."
"Just remember: If - in the attempt of freeing yourself - you feed me 666 souls of your own good men, your soul shall instantly belong to me for all eternity to come - and if you believe in only one eternity, you shall become sorrowly surprised!"
"The alternative is to stay here and live life on a diet of apples and cheese. Like the other animals you may entertain youself by rolling in the mud, and propagate there as well. That is: Until I take your souls!"
Will you choose
1. conformity, humiliation, agony, and the guaranteed loss of your soul, or will you choose
2. fear of the unknown, unbelievable carnage, the possibility of losing your soul, but also the chance of attaining freedom for you and your people?
Only YOU can answer the question! Let your new life begin after a long night void of any rest!
For an additional challenge, read the file "Notes.txt" included in the zip.
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
The map was somewhat tedious. There were some economic considerations to be made and some planning to do. Be prepared to play the game with the speed alternating between 90 and 10. You will either be waiting for soldiers to be ready or you'll be micromanaging your attacks. The attacks do keep you on edge a bit, and there is something satisfying about being able to kill a large force of ranged units without taking any losses, but it is also the same routine repeated many times, with the possible exception of there being a slight difference in the final set of towers.
This map is probably as difficult as I would want it to be. I beat it on my first attempt on very hard, but I do not believe the difficulty level actually has any bearing on the difficulty of achieving victory. If I lost this in the first or second attempts, I'm not sure I would come back to it. If you are determined to beat this level I would recommend using save files. So that all being said, the balance would be fine when matched to the playability, but I also never felt challenged. I already knew what I had to do, it was just a matter of waiting for the required amount of time to pass.
The premise of the scenario is a good one. The only path to advancement in meeting your objectives is to contribute to the number of your soldiers which have died. If you are not efficient, you will lose. it requires the player to know their troop strengths and weaknesses, and to consider unusual strategies. Additionally, the freedom to choose the wrong order in which to advance is left open for you. Many facets of your economy are rigidly set in place, so you must plan out how to best configure it given your constraints.
Map Design: 2.5
The map design is somewhat interesting, but not very good-looking. The world is divided into 10 areas of low terrain covered in dirt. These are surrounded by rocks resting on high or max height. It could have used some more variation perhaps. If nothing else the inaccessible parts of the map could have been more interesting. Maybe make them a little more jagged, put some large rocks on top of them. Large rocks could also have been placed about the periphery of the clearings. Maybe add some smoke effects using marsh or hidden foam. Scattering some decorative iron around may have worked well. Burning the clearings would have been an interesting touch too. When I picture circles of Hell I imagine these sort of bowls which tauntingly suggest the possibility of escape, but don't really allow it, and on the edges and somewhat on the insides they would be rugged.
The story in the downloads description is good. Somewhat whimsical, definitely amusing, and it does a great job of setting up the scenario and providing motivation for the player to complete the level.