Enderal: Forgotten Stories Review

57 hours later, I saw the credits once again.

As soon as I booted up the revamped Steam version of Enderal, and saw the opening, I realised I was back home.

 

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So peaceful.

Then this happened.

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This guy can fuck off.

I will say that my first run of Forgotten Stories was not complete. I missed out on at least 20 quests including the latter half of one of the new quest-lines, but it was a finished experience for me. I did finish everything during the 2016 run.

Enderal, the total conversion mod of Skyrim is better than ever. Even better, you can download and play it right off Steam for free, without the need for its own launcher or anything silly like that. All you need to own is a copy of the original Skyrim. This is a huge improvement on the old launcher and Steam makes it nice and easy to plug and play.

Introduction

SureAI has been making this mod for a long time, ever since Skyrim released back in November 2011. They have been responsible for making other total conversions such as Nehrim for Oblivion, and the lesser known Arktwend for Morrowind, which I am currently playing at the moment! Nehrim was another excellent experience, although it currently lacks English voice acting. It’s appeared on Steam though, so I expect it to get similar treatment to Enderal, hopefully. I really want to give Nehrim another go.

You do not need to worry about that with Enderal. Everything is fully voice acted in English from the get go, which is nice. I’ll get into the characters and voice acting later.

Big mods for Skyrim are rare. They usually come out through heavy-release delays or are just cut-back. I do appreciate anybody who tries to make one, but it is disappointing to be met with constant big, ambitious projects being pushed back for years or discontinued, like Beyond Skyrim, Skywind, Luthraathan and countless others.

So it was a great surprise to see Enderal not only get released, but it’s getting regularly patched. Initially launching in 2016 to great success, the revamped version launched Valentines Day of this year. And it’s bigger and better than ever.

The World

This was the first thing which caught my eye. The game is beautiful.

Skyrim has the beauty of ENBs, so if you’re experienced at those then Enderal won’t look much different. However, to people like me, this was a nice change. It really pushes the engine to its limit, and it does look exceptional at times. I found a few problems with moving while looking at the water with some odd flickering, with some odd flickering and glare when I moved around, but overall it looks great. Here are a couple of examples of the world.

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There is quite the mix of biomes at work here. We have the desolate desert of Duneville, rich grasslands, the massive city of Ark, the Frostcliff Mountains where everything is ice and snow and rich jungle, its quite impressive what the devs have done with the game. They really know their stuff, and the quality is shown time and time again.

Now, lets move onto the world size. It’s still a pretty big landmass, though it’s not quite as large as Skyrim was. I’d say roughly it’s half the size? There’s some pretty massive dungeons and spaces to explore as well. I went on a rather dangerous jaunt exploring the centre and east of Enderal, probably discovered barely half of all the known locations and still got a long way to go. For a mod, this is incredible work. There is a hell of a lot to do, throughout. You will not be skimped on the size of the game.

Ark, the hub city of Enderal, is huge like a capital city should be. Take lessons, Skyrim. Two streets and a castle does not make a city. *points and glares to Solitude.* True, there aren’t many big cities and towns in Enderal, but what they have picks up the slack. To quote Todd Howard, it just works. Only in Enderal’s case, it really does. I’ve often had to remind myself this is a Skyrim mod.

Game Mechanics

While the game is certainly similar to Skyrim we’re used to with very recognisable mechanics, a lot of stuff is different. There is a completely new levelling system regarding talents and perks and an experience system which grants you points when you do pretty much anything. I prefer this to Skyrim’s perk system to be honest, and it makes things a bit more specialised. You need to think about what character you want to be.

You can no longer Fast Travel. You can however go to place by place using large, rather cool looking animals called Myrads which can take you to other Myrads for 25 pieces of gold each. There are also teleport scrolls and a spell which allows you to mark a point on the map, then return to it from anywhere on the map. I like this mechanic because it encourages you to explore the map. Sometimes with fast travel you’re too tempted to abuse it and never go exploring in the game world, but this one feels fair. There’s plenty of options for you to get back in a hurry if you want to. It restricts you for lore reasons, not as a game reason. I like this.

Natural health regeneration has also been removed. You need to either use food, potions of healing spells. Using magic or potions increase your magical fever, a new addition which raises whenever you use such magic and kills you when it hits 100%, so use it sparingly!

To get stronger, you also get a really cool Meditation system in order to grab new perks and abilities. How SureAI managed to install this into the Skyrim engine is astonishing, and it looks incredible. There’s quite a lot of variance too with some nice trees. You can create potions to turn yourself into a werewolf, suck the soul from corpses to regain health, turn ash and bones into thralls to fight for you and so much more. You can’t upgrade everything, so you have to pick. I went for Entropy and Phantasm first off. Next time I’ll try something else.

It still has the overall clumsiness of Skyrim however, so you may be a bit turned off early on. The game plays off older budget RPGs like Gothic where you’re left a bit to discover things on your own. This game is also considerably harder than Skyrim.

Speaking of the game’s scope, it is linear to a degree. You can still go off to explore, but you’ll find yourself constrained in what you can do.

The game is pretty heavily scripted at least early on. There isn’t much you can do off the beaten path for at a few hours in the beginning, but you are able to explore different points as you go. This isn’t too much of a problem for me, because sometimes games can be rather too open. Travelling to the main and vast capital city of Ark is where the game really begins, and it can take a while to get there.

I will make this point in a previous review: I overplayed the games linearity. On replaying it, I found things to be a lot more open. It is more limited than classic Elder Scrolls games however, which was my main point.

The game is also linear in terms of difficulty. There are many areas and quests which just aren’t accessible to you early on, so you may have to potter around and find some easier things to do in order to survive. The game isn’t levelled like Skyrim and Oblivion was, so there will be parts which you have to avoid or run away from. Even normal bandits are hard to kill sometimes. Expect to die a lot, even on easy mode. The game is tough early on, and while the game makes several improvements to Skyrim’s shitty combat system, its still Skyrim combat.

A lot of the places and landmarks on the map are just bandit camps, but there is a lot of shit to kill and loot. Don’t let the linearity of this game fool you though. Even in it, there is a lot of open-world elements. It is just a bit harder to get into then the Elder Scrolls, that’s all. Don’t expect to go in expecting to kill everything and everyone with just a knife, or breaking everyone with broken stealth archery. You can still do that, but it will take time.

There are quite a few side quests, but the meat in the sandwich so to speak comes from the large and branching main quest. I would, again, do everything possible in the game before the final few quests however. You’ll be warned of the tipping point.

Enderal: Forgotten Stories has added a fair few new quests including a new secret third ending (which is really cool) and two pretty chunky side questlines: The Golden Sickle and the Ralatha. Both are pretty cool with some open-ended ways to complete them, but I seriously recommend the Ralatha. It’s one of the best questlines I’ve seen in a video game, let alone a mod, with a ruthless story.

Some of the best visual, storytelling and character moments take place in this questline and I highly recommend you make a beeline for it when you get the chance. There’s a serious case of “Holy-hellism” with this part of the game and the main character Tharaêl is beautifully well written from start to finish. It’s fairly short, being just six quests, but the quality is right there.

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This is not a creepy place to live at all.

Game length wise, Enderal: Forgotten Stories can last from 30-100 hours at least. Its a serious chunk of game. I’ve probably explored only half of what the game has to offer in my first playthrough.

Voice-Acting, Characters and Music

Holy shit. This nails it out of the park.

Voice acting is so important for a game. If it’s poor, people will judge it negatively no matter how good everything else is. There are excellent Skyrim mods let down by poor voice acting. Remember, Enderal is a mod. Of course, that does not excuse quality. Enderal shines on the voice acting across the board.

Overall has some damn good voice acting, easily on par with the original game and outstrips it on many levels. Of course, they don’t have too many different ones, so you’ll find the lines repetitive after a while.

This isn’t too big of a problem because it’s the same in any game, but there is rather a lot of depth even in the voice-acting. Pretty much everything is now translated into perfect English, which must have been hard to do. Good job overall, I’ve found very few voices I hate. In the original Enderal we had some really whiny kid voices but I was surprised to find this fixed in Forgotten Stories, removing my only real complaint.

The NPCs I have rarely felt connection to these like ever before in a video game. You get two major companions in the game, Calia and Jespar, and their depth and love of a character outshines almost any other in any game I’ve seen. I actually felt sad for their struggles, and that is hard to do. You can romance and befriend them, and they felt alive. There is even a novel being written on Jespar by the lead designer Nicolas, which you can grab right now. I can’t wait for its full paperback release and it explores Jespars past before the events of Enderal. I’ll leave Nicola’s Patreon down below so you guys can support him and the SureAI team.

https://www.patreon.com/niseam?fbclid=IwAR1wTSkJp9d4IF34vNW-OvMdgENYa6Ikijk6hi4k_P5K5o_kJ7zgLL8wPrE 

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Everything is just beautifully done, from the sinister “Daddy” from your nightmares, to the destructive force of Taelor, all the way down to Finn, the first guy who helps you out in the game. There was a moment in the main quest where you come across a poor, sick little boy, and the decision making during that quest-line was near heartbreaking. I actually had to sit down and think about what happened. That doesn’t happen often to me. Forgotten Stories gives you a bit more chance to explore the bonds with other characters as well, and even some side quests become quite chunky adventures with well-written companions.

There will be characters you love, characters you hate, and some you just want to stab with a knife that has been in the river Ganges for a year. I’m talking about you, Natara.

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Music. Again, I give them so much credit. It’s to the point where I’ve got the entire OST on my computer and phone to listen to. Its just that good. The music is just so well done but you don’t have to take my word for it. Forgotten Stories comes with the full OST to download free of charge. There isn’t a single music track in the game I dislike. here’s also bard songs in there too, sung and played by wonderful people that tugs at your heartstrings. It’s a solid 10/10 for me on the music alone.

Story

I’ll talk a little bit about the story. I won’t give any heavy spoilers or anything, but it is a deep and immersive quest exploring the darker aspects of life. Religion, your psychology, reality and destruction are all in here. As a Prophet, you must try and battle your mind and soul to free the world of a torn reality, as the deadly High Ones prepare to continue their cycle that is the Cleansing – the end of all mankind.

It is one hell of a journey, and while it is depressing and deeply disturbing at times with its psychological analysis, I was gripped the entire way through. It has quite a lot of psychology exploring religion and atheism, challenging both belief systems to the extreme at times, so if you are one of those people who get offended by challenges like that, this game is not for you. Fair warning. I’d still go out and experience it. It never felt like it was overreaching itself to me.

Just something to think about.

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This guy can fuck off as well.

Overview

I’ll be brief in this one, just a summary of the games best and worst parts. Like all games, Enderal does have some flaws.

Pros:

  • A well written story from beginning to end.
  • Large, well crafted world to explore.
  • Excellent worldbuilding.
  • Characters!
  • Jespar and Calia’s quests
  • The Main Quest
  • Music is amazing.
  • Great visuals
  • Relatively stable, far more so than the original release.
  • Everything to do with the Ralatha questline.
  • Bard Songs!
  • Good voice acting across the board.
  • It’s free if you own original Skyrim!
  • Well balanced difficulty.

Cons:

  • A few bugs and glitches here and there, but this is based off Skyrim after-all.
  • The combat while improved is still based off Skyrim’s.
  • Can get a little bit preachy at times, but this isn’t much of an issue. I thought I’d mention it for those who get offended by that sort of thing.
  • The leveling up skills system leaves a lot to be desired. Spending money to increase your skills sounds like a good idea, but I wasn’t very keen on it. It’s not the worst system in the world though and I managed to get used to it.
  • The Order are a bunch of assholes. Looking at you, Taelor.

 

Final score: 9.1/10

Overall, I recommend this to anyone. It’s not just a mod, but a complete new game in its own right, an experience that tops many similar challengers out there. For something lovingly crafted by modders for free to the public, that is one hell of an achievement. It is a story you will seldom forget.

Now if you don’t mind, it’s time to have a nice, crisp piece of meat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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