I have played through Eschalon, Book I twice now, and have some comments about the game. Overall, I enjoyed it. The storyline was engaging enough without being either uninterestingly terse or too much like a novel with a little gameplay. The gameplay was good fun as well. I'm also constantly on the lookout for games that my kids can play, so it's always nice to find an RPG where the violence is fairly minimal and the... uh, let's say the "other kind of R-rated material" is absent.
However, I did have a number of gripes about the game that may prevent others from purchasing it. I'm running the risk of sounding excessively negative and being called an idiot, but I think it's probably more valuable for the programmers to hear about problems so they can fix them in future "books" of the game. So, with the disclaimer that I did enjoy the game overall, let me wade into my gripe list.
First and foremost was the animation speed. For a game whose graphics are not significantly better than games of 10-15 years ago, I am puzzled as to why certain areas cause the game to slow to a crawl on my 4-year-old PowerBook G4. My computer can run games like WarCraft III and Neverwinter Nights without any problems, as well as some less well-known games with much more sophisticated graphics. Of course, these are very different games from Eschalon. To compare apples to apples, so to speak, the Avernum game series has graphics very similar to Eschalon's, yet it also suffers no performance problems on my machine. So I view the performance of Eschalon as a major flaw that needs to be addressed.
Another major problem I had with the game was how cumbersome the movement system is. Perhaps addressing the previous issue would help with this to some degree, but regardless, I think there need to be more options on the Quick Travel menu. There is very little point in traveling through a region that you have totally cleared out, and it rapidly becomes dull. It only gets worse once you reach the southern area that cannot be left or entered via Quick Travel. The Quick Travel menu somehow feels like a game feature bent to fit the interface (ie, limited to how many place names could fit in the map area), which is always a mistake. The interface should always be modified to make the gameplay more fun, rather than the game modified to fit the interface. I don't know if that's what happened, but that's what it feels like.
I also got really, really annoyed to find that my fighter's focus on sword skill limited him to the less-powerful weapons in end-game. The best sword I found was a mithril sword that had a base damage of 6, while if I had focused on cleaving weapons, I could have used one that had a damage of 9. Why not a magic sword or something? Very frustrating in a fighter class, especially since we're steered straight into the sword skill by receiving it at the beginning. There needs to be more equity among the end-game weapons!
My other gripes are much more minor. For example, I felt that 3 skill points and 3 stat points per level is a bit skimpy in a game where you have to build a solo character who is good at everything to some degree. In a game like Avernum, where you have a party of characters, it would be okay to be skimpy with points, since each character can be a specialist. (On the other hand, I think the replay value of Eschalon is better, since you can replay with a different class, while in a party-based game you will play with characters of many different classes the first time through.)
I also thought that the ending was a bit of a let-down. By the time I get into the goblin fortress, goblins aren't very hard, but they're the main defenders. I waded through the fortress in about an hour my second time around, and part of that hour involved leaving to sell stuff and visit the "Easter Egg tree." After I get to the top, I find a teleporter straight to Bastion Spire and the end of the game, when I thought there was still a lot more to come. (I thought I'd have to fight my way to the Spire after dealing with the goblins.)
Finally, I absolutely HATE where the saved games are stored. Why, oh why, do developers feel that they can throw just anything into your Documents folder? I'm already putting up with Adobe Help Center and Microsoft User Data folders in there, and now I've got Eschalon Book 1 Saved Games? The Documents folder is mine, darn it, stay out! Put the saved games in Preferences, for Pete's sake!