As I am apparently representative of Basilisk's target audience and an active forum poster, I was fortunate enough to have been Wrangled into giving what will become the Eschalon demo a "look and feel" test. I've had the demo for about a week now, and I've been asked by the Wrangler to share some of my impressions here.
First off, the screenshots don't do the game true justice, it looks great. I'd say it's just slightly ahead of the game Arcanum in it's general graphic presentation, but with some really beautiful effects (eg from explosions, smoke, lighting).
Traveling through the game is quite lovely. The background music is the right balance of ambience and actual style and detail, which gives great character to one's travels. This added with very nice environmental effects light torchlight in the dark and fireflies floating about at night, just breathes life into the game. So this is not some half-realised project, it's very full and atmospheric. Setting up camp at night really feels like you're camping.
The music is superb, from the opening cinematic to the background music throughout the game, it's clear a lot of attention went into putting it together. The background music is nice balance of ambience and detail, so it's not just "noise" nor is it distractingly overwrought. Light fantasy classical would describe it, I'd think.
NPC dialogue is extremely well done and detailed. This is not the two or three line sort of dialogue you see in most games, there's a fair bit of exposition (but not quite to the degree of Planescape:Torment!). You're given a fair bit of setting detail in their dialogue and descriptive text, much like how a DM in a PnP game might deliver it all. Also nice is that there isn't one All Knowing NPC who tells you everything about your quests and such, you pick up pieces of history and clues from everyone you talk to and so you as the PC put it together yourself.
There's a nice sense of having to be equipped and prepared for your journeys. You'll want to be well stocked in things like potions and torches and yet you will still need to make judicious use of them and be clever in your questing in order to make your supplies last.
Character creation I think we've mostly read about. You roll your stats (complete with the sound of rolling dice!) and assign stat points to flesh out your character. Then you choose an Origin which each adds their own stat or skill bonuses, an Axiom (sort of like alignment but more practical) and a class. Depending on your class and axiom, you're given a title which changes as you level.
Inventory is easily managed, there's a "quick bag" set-up on the main screen where you can place immediate-use items like potions or a map. Torches have their own special inventory slot.
The demo is 4 maps, and my first character had about 3 hours of time played just in those 4 maps, so that gives a pretty good indication of the level of exploration present in the game. You are rewarded for taking the time to explore as there is treasure to be found.
I guess overall my intial response was the Eschalon felt like an old Ultima game with a really nice graphics component.
I'm not going to give *too* much more away, but am happy to answer any questions in as much as I am able!
There are worlds out there where the sky is burning. And the sea's asleep and the rivers dream â€¦ People made of smoke and cities made of song â€¦ Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold!