"They don't make 'em like they used to," moan the nostalgic gamers who grew up on 320x200 resolution, 256 colors, crushing difficulty and flip-screen scrolling.
Well, you know, sometimes they do make 'em like they used to. Austrian developer Crafty Games is currently working on a "one-to-one remake" of 1992's Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny, and will be unleashing it on the world at the end of this month.
If you're too young (or too old, for that matter) to remember the original Realms of Arkania, it first came out on PC in 1992 under its original German title Das Schwarze Auge: Die Schicksalsklinge, and was marketed as an official product of the popular German tabletop roleplaying game Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) -- a system which has fairly consistently outsold Dungeons & Dragons in its homeland for a number of years now. In 1993, it was brought to English-speaking territories by Wizardry publisher and developer Sir-Tech, who dropped the Das Schwarze Auge branding and dubbed it Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny.
The original game is the quintessential old-school dungeon crawler: you create your party, then navigate them through a series of quasi-3D dungeons from a first person perspective, battling monsters and collecting treasures. Battles unfolded from an isometric perspective rather than in the 3D field, allowing for a degree of tactical play rather than being pure hack and slash. The game was followed by two sequels, both of which allowed you to import your characters from a clear game save file from the other installments.
The new remake of Realms of Arkania features vastly improved 3D graphics, but maintains the spirit and format of the original with a few gameplay tweaks here and there to make it more palatable to modern audiences. Whether or not there's a place for a game so resolutely old-school as this in 2013 remains to be seen, but those who pine for the Good Old Days would do well to check out the game's Steam page and see what you think.