Screed about the Dark Castle Maze

5 months ago

First, is it the "Dark Castle" or "Bone Keep"? Pick one name please.

Second, I hate the maze, because I hate all puzzles, and especially hate them when they've completely derailed the game I'm playing.

I bought this game because I enjoy playing D&D, its exploration, combat, looting, and powering up -- yah! Never in all my thousands of hours of playing with my mates did we ever sink to the depths of including a multi-hour intellectual puzzle. If I wanted to frustrate myself with brain teasers, I’d buy such a game -- I presume they exist; I’ve never looked. I very nearly stopped playing EA because of the damned annoying maze. (If the full release contains a second one, that’ll be the exact point where I’ll stop playing it.)

The concept is ridiculous. Why would anyone go to the enormous effort and magical expense to create a maze inside their own home? Having to navigate it whenever he wanted to move around his own home would terribly inconvenience himself, and at the least terribly inconvenience his staff too, if not destroy them. All for the chance that others might break into his home? If break-ins were a concern, constructing a lethal magical response would be far, far easier and more effective. The plot’s “The mage is mad” is a pathetic excuse. If you guys watched a movie and half the runtime was a digression into a completely disconnected and meaningless intellectual puzzle that added nothing to the plot, character development, or setting, you’d feel ripped off. In the case of your stupid maze, the architect of it makes no appearance at all, there’s no time pressure, there’s no stress at all -- it’s just an empty waste of developers’ and players’ time. Even more pathetically, when my party did meet the big bad mage and his undead minions, my strategy was to kill him first in the hope that would dispel his minions. We killed him in the first round of combat! So after wasting hours dicking around in the stupid maze, there wasn’t even an exciting payoff. There wasn’t even a mildly interesting payoff. It was a total let down.

Even worse, hating completely irrelevant intellectual puzzles the way I do, I didn’t even try to solve the maze; I just ran around pushing everything that was pushable, jumping on every jumpstone I could get someone to, and standing in every green zone. I kept doing it until I was suddenly surprised to find myself in the mage’s room. I’ve got no idea what I did right, or wrong, what the logic of the puzzle was, or anything else. If I'm forced to play that stupid maze again in the final release I'll have to rush around randomly again, because I learned nothing from doing it the first time.

Even worse, the maze as constructed in your game has multiple stupid flaws in it. Just to consider walls...

There are walls that only some characters can climb over, whereas all characters should be easily able to get over those walls with simple boosts from others in the party and/or by using many of the nearby piles of stuff to make ramps or steps.

You have some walls that everyone can climb over, and some that no one can climb over, when there’s nothing to visually indicate why. There are unclimbable walls that look easy to climb, and climbable walls that look unclimbable. What you allow and don’t allow is arbitrary and nonsensical.

(Not just in the maze either. In the earlier visited destroyed library, just inside the entrance, I pushed a stone block into the “green-magical-upward-moving-lightshow”, and the block ‘fell’ upwards. I thought “Wow, that’s amazing.” Then I spent ages trying to find a way to move the party forward that didn’t involve jumping through the same magical green anti-gravity field, because obviously my characters would fall upwards too, and that looked to be a very bad thing. Eventually, having no other choice, I jumped my least useful character through the green light. Although gravity works fine on characters, apparently anti-gravity doesn’t, for arbitrary and silly reasons despite what is visually obvious to the player.)

I’m unimpressed by the totally arbitrary inconsistencies between what I see and what my characters can do. Anti-gravity fields should be consistent, walls that look climbable should be, and walls that look unclimbable shouldn’t be. Throughout the EA experience, I found several cells that have climbable bars, and several identical looking cells that have bars that aren’t climbable. Make up your mind. Don’t choose whatever is convenient for whatever stupid little puzzle you have the player playing at that time.

I think your game has great promise (I wouldn’t have bothered writing this screed otherwise), but I’m concerned that so much of EA’s total gametime is the magical wrecked library and the maze, both of which are “take as long as you want to dick around with this irrelevant inconsistent puzzle.” There isn’t much of the EA playtime that is actually good old D&D. I sincerely hope you eventually release a D&D game.

I had intended to replay EA multiple times with different character mixes, but I aren't going to bother now because ignoring the two stupid mazes (library included), there's hardly anything in EA worth playing. I'm going back to Baldur's Gate 3; those developers know what D&D adventures are.

5 months ago

Sorry man but in BG3 there are puzzle too and someone are more complex that in Solasta.

Simon Haldon
Level 6
Discord Link Steam Link Newsletter Link Kickstarter Backer Armorsmith (Bronze)
5 months ago

I quite liked the Maze puzzle.

Level 5
5 months ago

Sorry man but in BG3 there are puzzle too and someone are more complex that in Solasta.

I don't know why what exists in BG3 should be any sort of excuse for also existing in Solasta. BG3 in my opinion is a very poor example of a D&D game and is far inferior to Solasta in all aspects that matter.

As to the topic, I actually enjoy these kind of puzzles and I feel they are very much at home in a game such as this. Puzzles and riddles have always been part of D&D games and add a lot to their enjoyment. I find it weird however that you refer to it as a "multi-hour intellectual puzzle " when it's not even much of a puzzle to begin with. You literally find a book at the very start of the maze which very clearly states every single step you have to take, so it's just a matter of following the instructions. At most my criticism regarding the "puzzle" is that it is way too simple. Receiving the instructions in such a clear fashion takes away the fun of actually solving what could have been a nice puzzle. Maybe the instructions should only be received after solving a riddle or something to make it more interesting.

Please note that I'm not advocating for insane maddening difficulty puzzles just so a player feels frustrated, but a fun puzzle of medium difficulty is greatly appreciated, I hope they keep the maze and hope they add a lot more puzzles throughout the game.

Level 10
5 months ago

Funny, puzzles have always been a major component of D&D, so I don't know what OP is talking about. So are mazes.

Just the other night one of the groups I run for had to figure out how to open a set of double doors with a silver rod with a key on the end, a keyhole with no turning mechanism and just the clue "the shadow is the key."

Took them about five minutes. 


Level 2
5 months ago (edited)

Lol hoes mad

Puzzle is fine, some characters can climb certain walls that others cant because of high STR and likely high proficiency in Athletics. My fighter and Thief got around places because of these features while the mages relied on Misty Step (Mages using magic and more martial classes using their skills to get around? what a concept!).

Anyways, looking forward to *more* interesting puzzles like this one, not less.

5 months ago (edited)

It's not even a puzzle. They straight up give you the answer. No thinking required.

Spoiler A dead adventurer's notebook contains the entire solution.