ANGBANDReviewed By: James Banks
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER
Are you tired of games that require the latest, greatest hardware? Do you like ones that cost nothing, can be changed by anyone, and require a little bit of imagination? Then “Angband” is the game for you.
“Angband” is based on the literature of J.R.R. Tolkien. It does have some Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) influences, although some of its variants have less of it.
You (as the player) begin by "rolling up a character", similar to D&D. You select your race (“Dwarf”, “Hobbit”), class (“Mage”, “Ranger”, “Warrior”) and roll virtual dice to determine your stats. Then, you start off on your way down into the Pits of Angband, at the bottom of which you can kill Morgoth (who, in Tolkien's literature, resembles Satan.)
The graphics are a joke. Unless you use TK-Angband, the graphics are either horrible or non-existent. I personally prefer the plain text layout, which is a sort of overhead view using letters and punctuation to represent monsters, the player and items. See below for an example:
######### #@.....\# #l.lll..# ..ll.l.l.# #l.lll..# #########
(In this example, the player is beset with lice ("l"). He is surrounded by walls ("#") on the north and west. On the east side of the room is a pick (useful for digging out walls). He is trying to reach the exit of the room on the west wall. The "."'s are lit floor spaces.)
As you can see, this in no way compares with most games sold today.
Also, the input system is equally abstract. There are about 60 different keys you must press in the course of a game.
Once you get past the poor user interface, “Angband” is very enjoyable. There is a good deal of strategy to be mastered and exploration to be done. One of the interesting features of Angband is that no two levels are the same. The dungeon levels are built randomly and so there is always an element of surprise. The player can choose from a variety of melee weapons to kill monsters, ranging from weak daggers, to powerful Lochaber axes. You can fling pebbles or fire arrows at your enemies. You can cast various spells to heal yourself or shoot your enemies. You can return to town and haggle for items in the stores. Every time you press a key, a game turn takes place. In between you can think about your next move, brush your teeth, or get involved in a book and completely forget that you are playing until you come back to your computer a week later. In any case, nothing will change (unless your cat walks across the keyboard). In contrast to most RPG's you can play “Angband” at any pace.
“Angband” has some anti-Christian elements, no doubt about it. First of all, it encourages the murder of innocent townspeople. Some of the townspeople are the nasty types you would want to kill, but then there are blubbering idiots and mangy-looking lepers who are very annoying if you don't kill them. Second, some variants have a “god” system. The player can worship various Vala, which in Tolkien's stories were like angels. However, the player can also choose to worship Eru, who is Tolkien's representation of God in his stories. Third, the player fights angels. There are various explanations of this, since the player is supposed to be basically good, but it still is not a very savory aspect of the game.
Fourth, the game has some magical elements. I suppose as long as the player keeps in mind that this game is set in an imaginary world and that supernatural power comes from God (in real life), this aspect of the game is not serious. The game makes no reference to the occult in its magic system and provides no subliminal messages. On the plus side, Angband teaches some good things like patience. To win, “Angband” requires hours of play and much of it rather tedious. The player is also taught to be careful. Discretion is always the better part of valor in this game, and the challenge is to have the self-control not to let yourself become arrogant and think you can take on just any monster.
“Angband” does not have any "R"-rated content. A few variants have "PG-13" language, but standard “Angband” is clean. The violence is either completely left to the player's imagination or the graphics are very tame.
As for sexual content, the monsters breed, but the only way you can tell is that new ones appear near others of the same kind. The game encourages the use of imagination and strategic thinking, which are rare among current games. In the text version, you can imagine the orcs and trolls to look like anything you want.
To learn more, try thangorodrim.angband.org in your favorite Web browser.
Year of Release—2002 (most recent version)
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Neutral—Oh, I've spent WAY to much time on these kind of games and their lesser counterparts the MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). They can be a lot of fun, but you will have to devote many hours in a day to get used to the game world. Games like these contain next to no objectionable elements save the “idea” of the bad elements. Nice to play, but in a game like this, you'll either stop playing after a month or two (Maybe shorter)… Or keep playing for months or maybe years… My only argument is that it takes up a lot of your time, compared to those spent playing other more graphic games. This time can be better spent on other things. My Ratings: [3/3]
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