I have a confession before we start. I can’t beat Barony: Cursed Edition, a roguelike RPG. After 20 hours of gameplay, that final prize still eludes me. However, from my experience, I have found a few nuggets of truth that have taught me, at least, what not to do, and things that you absolutely must do. Read on to discover my wisdom.
Game Settings: The game allows you to customize a few settings that change the general gameplay. I leave on the minotaur and the traps myself. Although these elements of surprise can be frustrating, they also feel like mini victories when you avoid one of them. I turn the hunger setting off as its just too much micromanagement for me, and you are still considered a proper gamer even if you do this. If you find that you are dying to the minotaur or traps too often, it’s easy to change the settings.
Classes: One of the most important choices is your class. Almost all the classes can achieve greatness at the more advanced levels. Your class choice will help decide how you play and how severe the early levels will be. The Joker class can feel very difficult at first but excels later in the game with his run and gun style of combat. A cleric, on the other hand, can start the game summoning a party that will most likely take you through the first five levels easily as you hide behind your minions.
- Barbarians, Warriors, and Clerics have an easier time putting on some armor and tanking their way through the game. They have good strength and melee skills and play in the way you would expect. They get up close and dirty. There is no shame in attacking enemies while running backward. In fact, it’s acceptable to mash the left mouse button swinging madly hoping to hit anything in front of you. You will still be considered a proper gamer.
- Wizard, Arcanist, Healer have access to some early magic. Magic is quite powerful in the game and maybe even OP. The catch is that restoring mana takes a long time. If you play one of these classes and prefer to cast often then you will need to rest often. I make a cup of tea, or a sandwich between battles as my mana is restoring. This would still be considered proper gaming.
- Joker, Rogue, Wanderer, Merchant I play as kiters. The Wanderer and Merchant really can fit into any category, but I lumped them in with the speed guys which you will see why later. Joker and Rogue start out very weak and offer a more significant challenge. The Joker, however, starts with one of the best rings in the game. A ring of levitation, which lets you go to places monsters can’t. One can then fire away at the helpless 1’s and 0’s that are in awe of your ability to be untouchable. Proper gamers find proper solutions.
- For levels 1-5 it would be wise to go slow and search everything. Look for traps and try to gain as many levels as possible. You will die more in these levels than anywhere else, and it’s better to re-roll early than to find you are behind in the more advanced levels. If you find the exit in these levels don’t take it unless there is a potential minotaur after you. Be patient.
- Levels 6-10 offer more space. If you can find an amulet of swimming, then you will breeze through these levels without much difficulty. Kiting and ranged attacks are outstanding in these levels. Classes like the Joker and Rogue will shine more than some of the slower classes.
- For Levels 11-15 I prefer an amulet of poison resistance. There are deadly scorpions on these levels that can poison and paralyze you. This amulet will effectively shut them down. At this point in the game, managing equipment can be a mini-game in itself. Keep only the best gear that suits your play style.
- Levels 16-19 Are perhaps the easiest after you have some experience. Speed outshines everything here. If your character is fast then you will be able to dodge most attacks and traps on these levels. Amulets of magic reflect are the best for the obstacles here in case you accidentally get hit by a trap. I once was stuck in a never-ending loop of being paralyzed. I searched my inventory to find an unused reflection amulet and ring which allowed me to correct the situation and successfully break away.
- Level 20 is the final boss battle. As I confessed earlier, I can’t beat it. I have tried with a friend, alone, melee, ranged, magic etc. It is hard. It is ok to die. It is ok to not feel like a proper gamer. I think my best run was half-way killing the boss. The only advice I can offer is that you need to be fast to avoid attacks. I can’t see any way to beat it without massive speed. It also helps to be able to levitate to have absolute mobility.
Notes on Equipment: Some pieces of equipment offer more than one property. For example, one can find a pair of armored boots that also provide levitation. Make sure you are identifying everything, and never put something on before it is identified. In multiplayer you can share spell books and items, so check with your teammates if they need something you want to discard. Every 5 levels of the dungeon offers a mini boss if you can find them. These mini-bosses carry precious pieces of equipment that can be game-changing.
This game will test your resolve as a gamer. This shouldn’t be a feeling of insecurity or frustration. In fact, I find it refreshing to play a game that is difficult, but still rewarding. You will say bad words. You will be killed by boulders and traps. You will be mauled by a minotaur, and you’ll be a proper gamer for not giving up.