I respect this game. I think it’s a milestone. It’s even charming at times. I’m glad I played it. But Baldur’s Gate isn’t much fun.
I feel like I’ve written this in every chapter review, but this game is just SO unforgiving. Every action is a chore. So much of what we take for granted in modern RPGs is absent, like buying and selling stacks of items and a useful UI. Side quests are buried under pages of dialogue and when you do find one, the directions are rather vague. You end up with an item you have no idea what do with, or you know what to do with it but can’t remember where to take it. It’s like you have to take notes of your in-game notes.
Low-level combat is brutal. Mages are useless. One or two spells a session and then it’s time for the slingshot. A slingshot couldn’t stop my grandmother, how is is supposed to stop a Flesh Golem? And fighters, good lord. More missed swings than a company softball game. What’s worse, anything can kill you. Take more than four hits? Dead. Take a critical hit? Double dead. Most of your time is spent running away.
Now, I think I know what’s going on here. If you really did put in the time to level your character, the whole thing would be a pretty epic hero’s journey from peeing your pants fighting a rat to beating on liches.
You’ve got to really live in this game to make it. Play it for hours. Learn the towns. Converse with all the NPCs. Learn their names. Be willing to fight for hours and run a lot. You have to treat it almost like a single player MMO. You have to love this game so much to put up with all kinds of mundane, redundant tasks to get to the good stuff.
Now, despite all this I’m not going to say this game sucks. See, not many people would argue against Sid Meier’s Civilization series being one of the best and most beloved video game series of all time. Each edition was critically acclaimed and popular (except for perhaps Civ3 and Civ5). Nobody would argue those games suck, but imagine playing Civ1 today. I mean, just look at it:
This is like Baldur’s Gate. It’s not fun because future games have refined and perfected what it started. I don’t want to tool around town in a Model T but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.
And that’s what this whole experience comes down to for me. Read about it. Admire it from afar. Appreciate what it was able to accomplish and pay your respects.
But just don’t play it.