Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dungeon crawler action-adventure: Meritous

Meritous: lots of projectiles and no shields

Through Libregamewiki, I found a game that was new for me: Meritous, a real-time dungeon crawler (like Goblin Hack) with strong arcade tendencies.

Meritous's map view
In the game you walk through rooms and fight monsters. These enemies sometimes have multiple forms (and thus need to be killed more than once). You try to avoid the projectiles they shoot at you, while charging your psi circuit, to release a circle shock wave of destruction. Sometimes there are boss fights.

When the enemies are slain, you collect the crystals that they dropped. These can be used to upgrade the speed with which your weapon charges, to decrease it's cool-down time or to strengthen your shield (yes, you have a self-recharging psi shield thingey). Other than the purchasable upgrades, there are free upgrades and permanent bonus-giving artifacts to be found in treasure chests after boss battles.

The impression of the game on me is a very positive one. It has a cyberwizard/cyberpunk style and uses color of the environment and different music to convey information: the redness of the surrounding indicates the danger (amount of enemies) and the music lets you know what part of the map you are currently in. The music palette consists of various funky and/or chill chiptunes.

Also please be warned: because of the addicting attitude of this game, I went to bed at four in the morning yesterday..


Mantar said...

Very cool! The gameplay of Meritous reminds me strongly of Epyx's classic Temple of Apshai.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This game is much better that I ever imagined! Simple, yet FUN gameplay!

Mantar said...

So far, I'm unable to beat the third boss, Merodach. I can kill three segments, but the last one's so fast, and hits so hard, that I'm basically toast in no time. I don't think even upgrading my shields another point or two would help much, and I need something like 1.6 million crystals to get just one more point. (I'm at 16 for shield and charge, and 18 for refill.)
Anyone get past him? Tips?

qubodup said...

Mantar: Well, I don't know, because end boss fights result in crashes for me :(

You on windows or mac? (I'm linux 32bit)

Well, of course getting all the treasures from all monster-spawn rooms is a good idea. otherwise I'd suggest experimenting with using objects as cover if available. and maybe spending some time on destroying the projectiles with small charges instead of trying to hurt him a lot.

Mantar said...

Yeah, I had that same problem. I reported it to the dev -- gdb seems to point to something related to the flashing when you hurt a boss monster. Some bad parameter sent to SDL, I think. Not that I'm an expert with gdb, though.

I've been using the Windows version under Wine since the first boss fight -- the saves are compatible, and it works great under Wine.

The problem is there are four pillars in the corners, offering a tiny amount of dodging space, and the center of this thing pours out fireballs like the invisible monsters, which don't seem to be destroyable. Plus I can only hide for a second or so before the tentacle (firing lasers and stuff) creeps around the corner and gets me -- it's almost as fast as I am.
I've got all eight artifacts, too. :( I'm resigned to just trying to get enough cash to buy one more point on my shields; maybe then I can run from pillar to pillar without it catching and killing me.
I've already exterminated ~75% of all the monsters that exist though, so it's getting kind of hard to get more cash. Especially with no more red treasure rooms.

Mantar said...

Okay. I just had to explore the remaining rooms so the agate knife would appear. Otherwise you don't stand a chance.

Now I've just got to beat the last boss to escape with the amulet. Unfortunately, it's almost as hard as the third without the knife. At least at the third stage. If there's a fourth stage, I'm gonna have to wait for a difficulty rebalancing, I think. :)

I wish it wouldn't start you over at the first stage if you die, though. It's kinda tedious to redo the easy part to get to the hard part. Maybe I'll see about patching that.

Anonymous said...

The 3rd boss is really hard, so try to get all extras from the treasure rooms first. You can usually hide in the corners and do large blasts during the first 2 phases. Once he starts shoting stars (which reflect on walls instead of disappearing) you'll need to do smaller blasts so the room doesn't get flooded with stars. Also you probably will have to keep walking, try going in circles along the outer wall, avoiding the tentacle heads, spamming small blasts to get rid of stars (you can walk through the tentacles without much harm, only avoid the heads) Every once in a while do a middle sized blast to damage the boss.

The last boss didn't seem that hard to me, just keep walking and making middle sized blasts for damage and removing stars. If it's too hard, level up a bit. The new monsters which appear after you got the last artifact are a real good to level up (they have many lives but can be killed by relatively small blasts, so don't be tempted to do fully charged blasts with long cooldowns)

Mantar said...

Ah. Finally beat the game - the last boss' third stage is so fast, and its pattern so complicated, that it finally came down to a lot of luck. Saving my blasts for the inevitable moments when the boss would swoop past or through my current hiding spot seemed to help a lot, too.
A damn good game, though the difficulty could use some rebalancing, IMO.

artfwo said...

A very good and addictive game! Can't beat the third stage of the last one yet, but I'm still trying :)

Mantar said...

Okay, the dev contacted me. The segfault is kind of a known bug. Debian has a packaged version with a custom patch that fixes the segfault (which I should have checked for -- I'm running Debian. Duh!), Ubuntu should inherit it. Other distro users can get the patch from debian's servers and apply it to the sources manually.

Asceiai will probably update the official sources eventually, but I gather that he's pretty busy IRL.

Anonymous said...

thx for bringing this little gem up. Very fun game from the demo scene & very much has a true Amiga oldschool feeling.

januzi said...

kill enemies only where there are 10+ in the same room

don't kill all enemies, explore 100%, before final battle remaining monsters will join together into few powerfull monsters; 3-4 of those killed in the same room = 5 or more upgrades

Anonymous said...

At least some of the music is non-free. For instance, icefront.s3m is by Skaven of the Future Crew. FC generally makes all of their works available free of charge, but they might object to being used in a game uncredited.

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