Stonekeep logo

This game is old. We're talking 1996 here. Not only that, Stonekeep was years in development and was considered to be the archetypal vapourware game. It was released though and the game, while not the magnum opus a lot of people had hoped for, was a considerably good play.

Stonekeep is a CRPG of the old-school variety. You have an "over-arching" quest to solve and you have legions of bad guys to hack and slash or broil with magic. In the gameplay department, it is nothing new.

You play Drake, the sole survivor of your town's annihilation by the bad god Khull-Khuum. You are introduced to these events by one of the best game introductions I've ever seen. It's a filmed sequence and it really is something special.

Scourge, a monster in Stonekeep

The Ice Queen in Stonekeep

Drake's Stats Page

Anyhow, in the introduction, you are saved from destruction at the last possible moment by an unknown person and spirited away. You come back as an adolescent to see the remains of your town. You're then approached by a goddess who shanghais you into completing the quest to destroy Khull-Khuum. This is where the actual game kicks in.

Stonekeep is quasi-3D. It uses a single-step movement system and your choices of movement are limited to up, down, left and right. So, it's not a true fluid movement. However, the environments are well drawn and the monsters and personages are well-animated. Most of the humanoids were motion captured from the looks of it.

A healing fountain in Stonekeep

Khull-Khuum taunts you in Stonekeep

An in-game map in Stonekeep

Stonekeep is full-screen. It makes a refreshing change from the windowed perspective of other games, such as the Ultima Underworlds or games such as Menzoberranzan or Stone Prophet. The interface is pulled up by mousing over a hotspot. The interface, which gives access to your inventory, skill pages, etc, is clean and concise.

Combat is odd that it is positional-based. Meaning you do damage (and take it) based on where you hit an opponent. It's not perfect, mind you and some enemies seem to be immune to his idea. Sort of like the Elder Scrolls series of games, moving the mouse around dictates how you swing, slash or poke an opponent.

You gain a variety of companions to aid you in your quest, including dwarves, shargas (a type of goblin), an elf and, eventually, Wahooka. Wahooka is an annoying goblin-type being who aids you with mildly incoherent and condescending advice. As companions join you, they line up beside you and you can see their attacks and swings, as well as in the inventory screen.

Magic is handled via runecasters. Runecasters are pieces of wood that can hold a number of scribed spells. The size and quality of the runecaster determines how often you can cast spells and their potency.

Quite logically, as you progress, you find bigger and better runecasters.

In Conclusion

It's a satisfying dungeon-stomp in the main. It's a little puzzle heavy in places and some of those puzzles tend towards non-logic. There's a fair amount of backtracking involved in order to solve certain sub-quests. Some of the monsters are quite difficult to defeat, either with magic or brawn and can be real show-stoppers.

How to get this game running with DOSBox. Alternatively, get it from GOG where the configuration is done for you.


Page last modified: February 24 2016 12:49:33.