Genre: RPG (Action)
Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Zolgar paid: $5.99
Beaten: Yes, been a while though
Zolgar's rating: 7/10
Nox is a game I actually had on disk ages ago, and one that I occasionally lamented the fact that I no longer had the disks, as it was a game I wasted many hours of my 'youth' on. I was never sure though if it was really that good of a game, or if I just had fond memories of it.
Well, as I was pondering what to review this week, GOG released Nox. Instabuy. Installed it and started playing.. yep, it was really a good game! It's not without it's flaws of course, but all things considered it has actually aged extremely well when compared to other like games of it's era.
When I did my Sacred review, I closed it by saying that Sacred is Diablo for 'real' RPG players. Nox is the reverse, it's a 'real' RPG for Diablo players.
The story of Nox is a fairly simple one; you play Jack Mower, a 20th century redneck who lives in a singlewide with his wife, who just happens to own this weird orb that the necromancer queen Hecubah needs to conquer the world of Nox. When Hecubah opens a trans-dimensional portal to recover the orb, it also happens to suck Jack through, too.
In a moment of deus ex machina, Jack just happens to land on the deck of an airship, piloted by a slightly crazy old codger who decides he has need of Jack. From there, the gameplay begins, and the story will change depending on your class of choice.
Each of the three classes starts out with a completely different and unique introduction, before being put on to 'more or less' the same storyline (but for perhaps different reasons) as the other two. Your final goal? Stop Hecubah from taking over Nox.
Normally this storyline would be two strikes for me. I don't usually like the 'modern day dude sucked in to a portal' cliché, and I outright despise the 'you are the chosen one' cliché. Nox somehow makes it work though, partly because the game does not take itself seriously at all. It's not a 'comedy' game by any means, but there's a lot of humor to it.
As I said, Nox has 3 classes, Warrior, Wizard and Conjurer, not many by today's standards but this is an almost 12 year old game. The classes are pretty self explanatory, but I'll go ahead and give a brief rundown.
- Warrior: Pretty obvious, melee master. Swords, maces, thrown weapons, special skills like charging foes. The closest to magic you'll get is enchanted weapons and armor, and bows are for pussies. Unlike Wizards and Conjurers, you will gain your special abilities as you level up.
- Wizard: Also pretty obvious. No armor, only able to use staffs as weapons.. but also able to produce all manner of spells. Wizards will find spell books throughout the game, or buy them from NPCs, and use those spells to produce basic utility effects, defensive measures, or pure raw damage. Wizards also gain the ability to make spell traps, which they can drop and have up to 3 spells go off when a foe triggers them.
- Conjurer: Kinda like a cross between a ranger and a wizard, conjurers summon animals, charm animals, and have a mix of offensive and defensive spells. They're also the only class that can use a bow and can wear light, but not heavy, armor. Like wizards they learn their spells from books they find, as well. Conjurers also have the ability to summon 'bombers' little units that will charge at the nearest enemy and explode, setting off up to 3 spells.
Gameplay wise, there's a few things that will throw off ARPG veterans. Right click moves, left click attacks or interacts. If there's no interaction, you attack.. this sometimes leads to wasted arrows on a conjurer.
Special abilities/spells are activated using the ASDFG keys, while ZXC will activate recovery items. For Wizards and Conjurers the mouse wheel will scroll through the spell trays.
The game is hitbox based, as opposed to accuracy. So at times, aiming a ranged weapon can be very awkward, and the projectiles will often go right past your target until you get used to what you're doing. It seems hitboxes are very small. However it also means if you keep moving ranged foes are less likely to hit you. Warriors can also use their shields to block incoming attacks (so can opponents though), but blocking only works at attacks from the front.
In addition to potions to restore mana, there are also 'mana crystals' throughout the world, which provide extremely fast mana recovery. While this is really nice in some ways, it leads to a lot of backtracking, and forcing fights to happen in certain areas, especially on a Wizard you will find that you spend, in my opinion, too much of your time running back to the nearest mana crystals, because you never know where the next one will be.
The main detractors to the game, for me, are:
No character customization. A warrior is a warrior, the only real customization you get is choosing what weapons and armor to use. Wizards and conjurers get to 'customize' their spells, sorta.
Arrows are not plentiful, and vendors do not restock.
Massively linear gameplay. Highly restricted on where you can go, how much you can explore.. and backtrack? Yeah, right.
Not so much a detractor as something of an annoyance to someone who's grown used to modern action RPGs: Death means game over, so you really have to remember to hit F2 and often.
A note one multiplayer:
The multiplayer of Nox threw out the norm for Action RPGs and went closer to FPS of the day. Offering such things as Capture the Flag and King of the Hill, later they introduced a PvE multiplayer mode as well. The servers have long since been shut down though, meaning the only option these days is LAN.
Short review I know. Nox is an easy game to cover it seems.
Screenshots shamelessly stolen from here.
“Can you take me home? My wife made bacon...”
“Bacon bound we go Imp, but first....”
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