Tuesday, 2 August 2011

An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (MS-DOS)

Battlespire is the third of the Elder Scrolls games, but it's a side story, not part of the main series... and that's pretty much all I know about the game.

Battlespire tells the story of an imperial guard apprentice, sent to the floating Battlespire for his final test.

But some bastard called Mehrunes Dagon has secretly moved in with an army of demons and murdered nearly everyone, for whatever reason. And the poor apprentice is completely unaware than he's teleporting into a floating world of hurt.

It's nice to see that all the different races are back for this game. The humans, the elves, the... hey! Where are the cat people and the lizard folk? Are they not allowed to join the imperial guard?

I'll go with Redguard because 'most naturally talented warriors' sounds good to me. If my character's trapped inside a dungeon for the whole game, then I'm going to need to focus on fighting skills.  

The game helpfully throws up an in depth tutorial screen around each menu if desired... even the 'enter your name screen'. I do appreciate in game tutorials, but I'd rather figure things out one piece at a time instead of memorising a huge info-dump of text. So I'm going to turn tutorials off.

The game recommended I make a spellsword or a battlemage, so I went with spellsword and left the stats at their default values.

I think this thing is the teleporter than brought me here, though I can't be sure. I got burned when I tried walking into it, so I'm not getting out that way.

The game is full 3d and I can look around with the mouse. Left mouse button interacts with the environment and holding right mouse button lets me swing weapons. So it's pretty similar to Daggerfall so far. Well, except for the lack of an outside world.

It seems that I'm in a pentagonal shaped room with an exit on every corner, so I'll just pick one and see where it takes me.

Uh... hi?

Oh wow, it seems that I actually can chat to the sinister monster. But what should I say? Somehow I doubt any of these three dialogue options are going to lead to me just walking away from this.

Nope, this guy's pretty keen on seeing me dead. Fortunately I've got... a fist? Damn, I don't stand a chance here.

Hah, there's no way he's going to follow me down here. I can rest for a bit then come back and try a different exit.

Well... shit. I can't see a way out of here. I can't even find a rest button to regain some health.

But maybe if I try jumping at the wall I can pull myself up...

Wow, that was pretty nice of the evil Daedra to pull me out of the lava, treat my wounds, and keep me fed. Plus it wasn't even bad food!

Okay, I started again with a new haircut, and this time I've equipped some clothes. For some reason I arrived in the Battlespire absolutely naked, but all my stuff was in my inventory.

Items are full 3d until I place them on my character. Then they turn into 2d pictures. For some reason the item buttons filter out that item from the list, instead of switching to it. But whatever, at least this time I can actually see clearly what stats items have, so it's a step above the earlier games.

Much nicer art too.

My attempts to negotiate a peaceful way out were met with crude humour. The NPCs have full spoken dialogue though, which is cool.

Okay, this seems to lead somewhere else, but I can't get past these symbols without... something.

I wish I could see where it led, but the draw distance really isn't so great in this.

I wonder if that was the same scamp I was chatting with before... either way he's been disintegrated now, and I get to look through his sack of stuff.

He dropped a rune that looks a lot like the ones that blocked me on the bridge. No idea what it does, I'll hang onto it just in case.

Whoa crap, these guys are tough. He cut through my health with a volley of magic attacks before I even got close and now he's kicking my ass.

New plan, I'm going to load my save game and go the other way instead.

This room seems important. There's a button, and a note.

It mentions that this is one of the anchors keeping the Battlespire where it is, and that disconnecting all the anchors will lead to certain disaster.

I pressed the button... and the blue things connected together. So I guess I must have reconnected the anchor then. Well, that's good! Much less chance of additional disaster.

Hey, I found a letter from my friend. Apparently I'm supposed to be going around, hitting things, and taking all their stuff. Well I already had that part figured out, some advice on where to go would have been nice.

I haven't exactly been doing well. Well that's not true, I've been doing great, but all these fights and no rest means that I've got no way to recover my health except for the occasional health potion I find around.

A long corridor heading downwards... seems like a good excuse to jump. Annoyingly the jumping in this is the weirdest I've ever seen in a first person action game.

Holding the jump key makes a cursor appear on screen and move away from me. Where it's pointing is where I'll end up when I let go of jump. It's fantastic for accuracy, but it's incredibly slow.

A tiny, barely noticeable blue thing on the wall... I'm grabbing that.

Hey, I got full health! It's a full health crystal, and it respawns! Finally a quick and simple alternative to sleep I can rely on.

Oh shit, it's another one of those Dremora guys spamming magic at me.

Damn, there goes all that health. I'm going to have to run back to that crystal after every fight with one of these Dremora aren't I?

Oh, maybe I don't have to backtrack to the crystal just yet. It seems that I was wearing Pants of Healing the entire time!

Oh, crap I think I'd better stop using them. I've just worn them down to 50% condition, and if I heal any more they'll probably disintegrate. And the guy has no underwear.

Damn, they seem to like pairing up a Dremora and a Vermai against me in each room. They're too tough for me to fight both at once, so I have to split them up. And even then it beats me until there's only a drip left in my life gauge.

And then once I've defeated one of them I have to backtrack all the way along this green path I've scribbled on the map. Out of the room, down the corridors, down that long staircase, and back around to the healing crystal.

And then I go back again to defeat the other one.

And then I go all the way back again to heal.

And then I press the button. The button opens up a room containing another Dremora, another Vermei, and another damn button opening up another room that's exactly the same.

And every single time I kill an enemy I have to backtrack to the healing crystal to get my health back. Would it have really ruined the game balance to put in a bloody rest button?

I could have built a character with a healing spell, but then it's the same problem. I run out of magic, and have to backtrack to the magic refill crystal... which is right next to the healing crystal.


What, there's only one of them this time? Okay I'll just put my shield magic on, then I'll stroll over and beat the living shit out of him.

And then I'll load my save game and try it again, except without the dying this time.

Fortunately I got him the second time, and found another one of those runes on him. I'm getting a pretty big collection of them by this point. But this one has a slightly different description...

Also check out my badass cape! Shame it's not a cape of healing... it's not a cape of anything really.


My Sigil of Entry lets my walk right through the barrier! I've finally achieved something! I'd call that a reasonable place to stop playing.

Well, it's a bit like Arena and Daggerfall, except without the shops, the quests... the entire outside world. It really does seem to be one endless dungeon, which wouldn't be so bad except I just didn't find it any fun to fight anything in the game.

Okay I admit I had more luck when I tried an archer character. I was able to kill enemies much faster and avoid damage easier, so maybe I just had a crap character first time around. But the game really has not aged well. It looks incredibly dated and ugly next to Quake, and that came out a year earlier.

I've got zero interest in playing this any further. Next game.

Other Elder Scrolls posts:
Elder Scrolls: Arena
Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion


  1. Pretty elusive game in terms of a good screenshotted reviews, thanks!


Semi-Random Game Box