7th Dec, 2022
After Ps:T and Disco Elysium, where can we go forward to, after we talked about the peak of RPGs how do we go on ? Well in my opinion the gothic series(mostly the first 2 installments) is the way to go. Now the first game came out just a bit after Ps:T and is probably one of the more criminally underrepresented games in general. There are plenty of reviewers that haven't heard of the Gothic series and the first one did a lot of things right, with the second one improving upon the idea further.
The story is pretty basic and while it does get a bit better in the sequels the story is mostly there to drive you on through the game. It's the usual hero versus the bad guy, however it does setup the series pretty well and the atmosphere which is fantastic carries you through the game quite effortlessly. When you consider that this game is more than 20 years old, it's world is still on the best and feels quite like a real world, if real world was populated with monsters, orcs and magic. You start of as a prisoner, guilty of an unknown crime, which is already a bit of twist from the usual story fare, being thrown in a prison colony surrounded by magical barrier, which is basically the limit of your world pretty much, since going near it will kill you, ending the game. Inside the barrier however there are 3 established factions, 3 camps so to speak and you can join either of them. Doing so will let you learn the skills that are exclusive to them, usually magic and let you buy better gear, with most armors in the game being locked by your faction membership.
The mechanics are quite rudimentary, with a bit of a twist, where you use your direction keys(or wasd) to move or to attack, by choosing a direction in which to swing your weapon in. There are locked doors and chests that you can find a key for, or pick the lock, which is one of the skills i recommend getting early. I'd also advise you to choose a weapon type you're most comfortable with and focus on that, as a jack of all trades build has a harder time in this game than a specialist. Most importantly don't give up if you feel extremely weak at the start of the game till about 30-40 hours in. In a way Gothic is a progenitor of the souls type games and it's extremely rewarding once you have the know-how and the gear to take down enemies that tormented you in the beginning of the game.
Most importantly however, as i've already mentioned, is the atmosphere and the feeling of the game. There's nothing out of place, you wont find a magical sword in a random chest in a random cave, you may however find a cache of supplies of a local hunter in there. Or you might find a nest of deadly monsters waiting for you. It's truly magnificent if you can take a step back to look at it.
I think the Gothic series is one of the western RPG pillar. And it's a shame people don't talk about it more. What's even more of shame is the state of the 3rd installment and furthermore i don't consider the 4th installment part of the series at all. The first 2 games i can wholeheartedly recommend however.