Reviews - Updated on March 30, 2022

The Ultimate ADOM – Caverns of Chaos Steam page says, “After 25 years, the official sequel to classic ADOM is out.” For you to understand the importance of the event, it is as if the official continuation of Rogue, the founder of the roguelike genre, has appeared. Because ADOM, the initial version of which was released in 1994, is not just a classic: it shaped this genre. And some believe that it is completely a separate direction: they say, there is a rogue-like, and there is an ADOM-like. The authors seem to have every right to rant about the “official continuation” – among the developers is listed and Thomas Biskup (Thomas Biskup), the author of the original. But to what extent are these words backed up by deeds?

Birth of a legend

Thomas Biscap began developing ADOM (Ancient Domains of Mystery) in 1994. Then, as I said, the first version was released, which was developed and supplemented until 2002. The game initially looked like a classic work in ASCII graphics – this is, conditionally, a picture created from letters, symbols and numbers. But gradually more presentable, “tiled” graphics appeared.

It was a very multifaceted, complex thing. On the one hand, in order to rid the land of Ancardia from the evil forces of Chaos, we explored a lot of randomly generated dungeons, fought monsters, collected loot, and so on. On the other hand, it was also possible to explore the earthly world: wander through forests and fields, visit villages, complete numerous quests. Moreover, tasks were allowed to be completed in different ways, and the choice influenced the character’s worldview (Law, Balance or Chaos).

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

Classic ADOM look.

Both quests and alignment played an important role. Our decisions influenced the plot and its ending, and the attitude of some characters towards the hero depended on the worldview, which tasks he could receive and which would become inaccessible, which deity he would worship, even bringing him sacrifices and receiving help in return.

We also gradually accumulated corruption, which led to random mutations, gradually turning the hero into a monster with hooves instead of legs. As soon as the limit of mutations was reached and the character turned into a clot of original chaos, the end of the game came. In such a situation, it is not surprising that the hero could eat corpses to satisfy his hunger and even receive bonuses to his stats.

After 2002, support for the project ceased for nine years, but in 2011 Thomas Biscap returned to business, and four years later an improved version, ADOM Deluxe, was released on Steam. In it, in addition to all the classic details and game mechanics, modern conveniences have been added, such as achievements, a more comfortable interface, difficulty settings, and the ability to disable irreversible death in the new Story Mode.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

And this is what the Steam version of the classic looks like.

Eat or Dismember?

And here comes the “official sequel to the classic version of ADOM”. For a long time in Early Access, playing Ultimate ADOM – Caverns of Chaos was almost impossible due to bugs and broken mechanics. You can play on the release, but, to be honest, it’s boring and you don’t really want to.

On the one hand, a lot is in place – randomly generated dungeons, turn-based movement and battles, the ability to devour corpses, a system of damage and hunger, a lot of enemies, skills and weapons. You can even enable ASCII graphics.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

So the modern player is still more familiar.

In place and detailed character generation. From the combination of factions, races (elves, humans, dwarves, orcs, trolls and even ratmen), professions and gender (of course, now you can be non-binary and neutral), four classes are obtained – a conditional warrior, archer, mage and priestess. This affects, in particular, which specialized skill branches and spell schools will receive more points for development when reaching new levels. But at the same time, no one prevents the fiery sorceress from studying necromancy, and the dwarf with an ax to join the shooting business.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

There are also pre-created characters that differ in the complexity of the passage.

There are a lot of branches of skills and schools of magic. Stealth has been added, as well as unusual new arts, such as dismembering corpses with the ability to attach their parts to a heroic body – this way you will have two heads (one of them is an orc) and several arms. It is a pity that this does not provide such tangible benefits.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

But to remain invisible, rather, you need to cut something off.

Another interesting feature is the ability to recycle loot for experience, mana or health points. The choice of faction affects the effectiveness of these actions. This also gives fresh sensations – you collect and carry all kinds of rubbish with you in order to throw it on the floor at a difficult moment and improve your condition.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

Equipment can be improved with runes, but I don’t want to recycle this.

Boredom works, the rest – not always!

The trouble is that the versatility and complexity of the classical ADOM has disappeared. There are only dungeons here – no more meadows, fields and villages. This is explained by the plot – they say, Andor the Dragon is defeated, peace reigns in Ancardia, seven factions are fighting for control over the situation, and then Chaos stirred again in the depths of a huge cave. That’s where we’re headed.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

You can play not for the faction, but for yourself.

But where is the scale now, a lot of NPCs and non-linear quests? A couple of times some uncle flashed in the cave, said to come later. Alignment is in place, but it is not determined by our decisions, but rather by the choice of faction when creating a character and in any case no longer plays that role.

Okay, you can say that this is senile grumbling and no one promised an ADOM remaster. But then make what you focus on really work and interesting. Otherwise, there is a corruption system, but its level is increasing at such a low rate that you simply don’t notice this entire system for a long time. There are no problems with satisfying hunger either – any corpses are allowed to eat (in the original it was not so).

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

Ate something – and immediately +1,000 to satiety!

There is an interactive environment – you can break something, push objects, water them with something, and so on. But the need for this rarely arises. It is only useful to tear off a burning torch and heat the enemy with it.

And in Ultimate ADOM there are a lot of completely identical items of equipment and not very convenient interface and inventory.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

The action menu is also inconvenient.

We walk through the cells, hit or use spells according to the same scheme (no seven battle modes for you!), Often we and the enemies smear, wait until we finally hit. Magic and skills are more effective, but they waste energy.

Fascinatingly?

Then we circle through the cells, waiting for energy and health to be restored. Something interesting rarely happens. Well, we’ll find a chest, a strong enemy with a skull above his head will appear (it means that a treasure will fall out of it), or a bunch of opponents will immediately surround us.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

Getting out of this trap is not easy.

That’s all the surprises. Yes, the further you go, the greater the chance of encountering something really difficult and, perhaps, unexpected, but before that you have to endure, overcoming boredom.

Ultimate ADOM — Caverns of Chaos: Обзор

But not everyone will endure the absence of the Russian language.

With Ultimate ADOM – Caverns of Chaos, we got not the big and complex game that the original was, but just a “bagel”. It has its own interesting features, but lacks the convenience and dynamics of modern representatives of the genre, where a lot changes depending on relics, artifacts and unique weapons. Here – boredom and a lot of non-working or non-obvious mechanics. All hope is that the authors will listen to the players and bring the project to mind.

Pros: this is a fairly competent “bagel”, repeating many of the features of the original and adding something of its own; detailed character generation system; many skills and schools of magic that can be combined in different ways; interactive environment; you can eat corpses, dismember them and attach body parts to yourself.

Cons: the complexity of the original disappeared; many mechanics do not work well or do not work at all; balance problems.

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