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Review: Meritous

Table of Contents

Quick Info

Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religious Objections
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Additional Notes
This game is also available for Linux! This game is free!

Summary of major issues
This game revolves around restoring a magical nexus to its original, pure state. You do this by placing magical artifacts at psychic hot spots, and by battling monsters created out of corrupted psychic energy.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the game's easy mode will insult you instead of showing you the real ending.

Screenshots


Compass tiles point to your next destination


Clearing a heavily infected area


An artifact resting on its altar

General Information

Genre:Dungeon CrawlerAge Rating:Children (Ages 6+)
License:Open SourceQuality Rating:Good
Played on:Martha
Available from: Meritous's Homepage

Linux users can find this game in their distro's repository

Save System:While you can only save your game at designated save points, you can pause it at any time by hitting ESC. This brings up the option to quit the game, so simply choose "No" to resume playing.

Game Overview

Meritous is a simple game, and this is one of its biggest strengths. By keeping things very simple, there's no need to worry about the fuss that commonly plagues games in its genre. There's no inventory, nor equipment to manage. You simply either have the items or you don't. But, like other dungeon crawlers, the game's map is randomly created, so every time you play the game you'll have a different temple to navigate.

Another way this game differs from what you'd expect is the way combat is handled. Instead of having to swing a sword or pick from a selection of magical spells, you have exactly one attack. With the exception of the final boss, all of the monsters you'll be facing were born out of corrupted magical essence. In order to reduce them back into the raw PSI crystals they were originally, you charge up a PSI circuit, and once enough energy has built up, you release it in a wave of pure PSI energy.

As you probably guessed by now, the main goal of the game is to cleanse the contaminated Orcus Dome by dispelling the monsters and restoring the flow of magical energy. To help you along the way, there are special tiles that display arrows pointing to your next objective or the next artifact for you to collect. Gathering most of the artifacts is optional, but I'd strongly recommend it as they greatly increase your abilities.

This is a great game for fans of dungeon crawlers, and it's also a reasonable introduction to the genre if you're not familiar with it.

Pros

Areas change color depending on the amount of shadow present
A really cool effect is that the color of world changes from a calm blue to a vibrant red depending on the number of shadow monsters in the room. This effect is particularly noticeable in the "arenas" that appear around the map. These rooms are so heavily contaminated that monsters will continually spawn until you've cleared them all out, and as you slowly decontaminate the room, the background will shift from red to blue.


Lightweight but fully featured
Meritous doesn't require a lot of horsepower to run, yet it has a lot of visual effects as there are frequently scores of monsters and projectiles on screen at any one time. The screen only gets busier as the game progresses.


Monsters eventually come after you
Many monsters remain in the same room they start in, but quite a few will start chasing the player if they notice you. It's not just possible, but expected, to return to previous areas and find new monsters roaming around in what were empty rooms. Additionally, towards the end of the game monsters even start to actively hunt you down!


Easy mode for beginners
Called "wuss mode", this makes things a little easier by speeding up your attacks, slowing down the monsters and giving you an infinite number of lives. It also means that after you beat the final boss you won't see the ending. Instead you'll just be called a wuss and be told to try again on normal difficulty.


Cons

Most of your time is spent grinding
Grinding is by far the main way you progress in this game. Going from room to room, killing shadows and collecting the crystals they dissolve into is fun, but not everybody likes the idea of spending hours doing this. On the other hand, the monsters get harder as you get stronger, so it's very well balanced and doesn't feel like you're doing the same thing over and over again.


Fixed resolution
One problem with the game is that it's stuck at a 640x480 resolution. There are no options to make the window larger, which might be a problem if you can't read the in-game text. This is largely a drawback of the toolkit that the developer used; it doesn't provide a way to resize its virtual screen.


Concerns and Issues

Players that take it easy will be mocked
As mentioned above, the "easy" mode taunts the player for taking the easy route.


Swearing
The final boss has a few words for the player character, some of which are a little inappropriate for the kiddies. If you're playing on wuss mode, the game will tell you to play the game again on normal difficulty using an impolite term.


Psychic powers
PSI is just a different type of magic. It's basically just the ability to zap bad guys with a special device, and therefore little more than a game mechanic, but some parents may object to any references to magical powers.