TechieTalk: Gaming: Heroes of Neverwinter and NetHack Variants

By Roy Mathur, on 2012-08-27, for The Independent Daily, Mauritius (in which an edited version appeared)

Last year the legendary game Dungeons and Dragons came to Facebook in the form of the Heroes of Neverwinter app. This role-playing-game is an isometric scroller, rather than a full-3D game and uses simplified Dungeons and Dragons rules to entice the more casual player. Those are the good points.

Now the problems. Playing with the graphics set to "high" and level loading can be agonisingly slow. I tried this game using Firefox on my Netbook and it was almost unplayable, though I faired somewhat better using the Google Chrome browser.

Also, although free to play, like many Facebook games, to progress through the levels and develop your character at an acceptable speed you need to make in-game micro-purchases.

Add all these quibbles together and your have a game that fails to satisfy, so sadly after a few hours play I gave up on it. However, if you are a Facebook and social gaming junky, with a credit-card, a PC and an internet connection capable of running Flash-heavy games, you may enjoy this more than I did.

My dissatisfaction with Heroes of Neverwinter and very busy schedule of late has meant that getting my daily gaming-fix has been difficult. Also I haven't had the money to rent or purchase a game from my local video games store or the time to learn how to play an involved game with a hundred complicated button combinations to learn with my XBox controller.

Thus, I have fallen back on that good old game NetHack to get some dungeony goodness. I covered NetHack a few articles back as both a fun game and one that you can get away with playing at work because the ASCII version can be played in an innocent looking command window. But this time we're going all fancy-schmancy and looking at a few supercharged variants of NetHack.

NetHack is a very old game, its origins lie with the Rogue dungeon crawler game in 1980 and Hack in 1982. Although it started life on UNIX machines, NetHack has been ported to almost every platform imaginable. There's a version for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows users. Although the original game is still very playable, today we're looking at some modified versions with extra kick.

Vulture's Eye, Falcon's Eye, and NetHack 3D

Like Heroes of Neverwinter and unlike the original NetHack, Vulture's Eye, Falcon's Eye, and NetHack 3D are Diablo-like isometric scrollers that give a 3D feel to what are essentially 2D games. All this means that the gamer can more fully immerse themselves in the excellent NetHack gameplay. The gameplay is exactly the same as NetHack for these variants because they are essentially a graphics, music and sound rich layer slapped on top of the original game.

The object of the games are to take your game character on a quest through a Medieval dungeon environment collecting weapons, potions, goods and treasure and besting monsters like skeletons and goblins in mortal combat.

Verdict? All three games are similar in appearance and gameplay.

Though I only had success in running Vulture's Eye due to graphics sub-system incompatibilities, which kept the others crashing before I could even start them. Even Vulture's Eye would crash when I tried to take a screenshot for this article.

If you can get any of the games to work and you enjoy games along the lines of Diablo, then you will like these games. They are fast to start and learn, fun to play and cost nothing, so what have you got to lose?

You can download the Windows versions of the game here:

Vulture's Eye

Falcon's Eye

NetHack 3D

You can contact me at roy.mathur@gmail.com