Eye of the Beholder 2: Vast, dark, and still

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1991’s Eye of the Beholder 2: The Legend of Darkmoon. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

The party decides to take a little break from crawling through the first dungeon level to poke around upstairs in the temple. There’s an angry priest who’s not too happy to see them, and so I guess he must die. I’m not quite sure why everyone’s all evil in this place, but hopefully the game will answer that at some point.

Many dead priests later, the party comes upon a room where there’s a pile of bones and a note. The cool thing is that by returning to the rez shrine, those pile of bones can be turned into the party’s fifth member, a mage named Amber. Welcome to the party, pal!

The crew also overhears some voices talking about people roping in victims for the temple, whatever that’s about. I’m starting to suspect this place isn’t on the up-and-up.

Doors with talking lips on them are always a little unsettling to me. Where are the eyes?

So it’s here that I got stuck for a good hour, because I couldn’t progress any further in the first dungeon without a grey key. The problem was that I had already used the one grey key I had and was worried that I used it on the wrong thing — dead ends are possible in games like this! I spent a lot of time roaming around both levels that I had unlocked, poking through everything, until I finally found another grey key in an alcove. Whew!

As an aside, it was at this point that I also figured out that I could use the number pad to move, which is WAY faster than mouse-clicking on the move icons. I know, I’m a bright one.

Combat is still a little too cumbersome for my tastes in this game. It’s a frantic click-fest between different icons and trying to open up mage and cleric books to click on specific spells and then direct those spells to their targets. I really wish this game had hotbars or, lacking that, a more traditional turn-based menu system.

The party descends to the second level of the underground dungeon, and everything gets a lot more ominous. “Vast, dark, and still” it is called.

In another prison block, the group discovers a Dwarf Cleric named Shorn. He’s from another temple, having traveled here to address whatever great evil lies within. The team welcomes him aboard as their six and final member!

The enemy clerics down here are supremely annoying. They start fights back casting hold on two random party members, taking them out of action. I’m sure there’s probably a spell to reverse that, I should look it up.

Continuing through the second level of the dungeon, we learn a very helpful fact that head crushers are  not meant to be comfy. Good to know, Eye of the Beholder. Good to know.

The party stumbles upon yet another prisoner, Calandra, who is definitely there as some early 1990s eye candy. She offers to join up and help, but alas, there’s a six-member limit on the group size and I have all the help I need. We also find a whole lot of useful gear for Wolfy, including +1 scale armor, so that puts me in a good mood.

Kind of wish I had more than six guys, because let me tell you, these skeleton warriors kicked my BUTT the first time I encountered them. I’m still in that awkward phase of trying to flip through menus while they are bashing me in real time, and I didn’t even manage to kill one before Wolfy died and required a reload. This totally violates the RPG rule that the first skeletons you encounter should be little anemic things that, I dunno, slap you ineffectually.

So here I am going to put a bookmark in my adventures through this game, because as I write this, it’s been over two weeks since I last played. I think it’s the combat system that killed my desire to wrestle with this, because it’s too prominently featured and too poorly designed to be enjoyable for a long haul. That’s a shame, because otherwise this is a genuinely interesting world to explore!

2 thoughts on “Eye of the Beholder 2: Vast, dark, and still

  1. Hirvox March 31, 2021 / 12:37 pm

    Both priests and wizards can learn Dispel Magic, but they will need to be at level 5. And there are shortcut keys for spells as well. F1-F6 to pick a character, U to open the spellbook, 1-6 for level, to pick a spell in that level, and space to cast.

    That said, I did complete EotB 2 on a 286, which couldn’t quite run the game at optimal speed..

  2. Gamera977 April 1, 2021 / 9:32 am

    Thanks for covering this! I picked this up years ago on some ‘shovelware’ collection of all three games on one CD-ROM. I played them all for a little while and then dropped them for the same control issues.

    Thanks Hirvox! I’ll keep that in mind if I ever go back to them. I have them all on GOG but haven’t touched them again yet. I believe the collection I had before didn’t have manuals but just a quickstart reference card.

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