Nox is one of the reasons that I am.
Nox arrived during my formative years, when we got our first computer, when the world of gaming yawned wide in hour-long bursts.
Once again, there are no rose tinted spectacles here — Nox is every bit as bloody brilliant as I remember it being.
Nox is a light-hearted isometric top-down hack ‘n’ slasher from days of yore. Camera is locked, right-click makes your character walk towards the cursor, left click attacks, space jumps, ASDFG casts spells… I should say these controls are standard, but the only other actual hack ‘n’ slash RPG I’ve ever played was Loki and it was a pretty much unmitigated disaster, so I haven’t the faintest idea whether or not these controls are standard. I assume so; they feel very natural.
Smother that in with is actually a decidedly non-standard fantasy universe (do you remember when you could just invent new IPs for games and not have to butcher existing ones in spurious reboots and pre/sequels?), an intriguingly alternative art style (warping the obvious robe-and-pointy-hat designs for the wizards into something the same but brilliantly different is a prime example) and you have a very fine package. A true lost gem.
As with any old game, there are usually teething problems on putting it on a modern machine. Luckily, it was a mostly painless experience this time around — the delightful old-school Westwood Studios story-narration installer ran perfectly.
The only issue I encountered was the lack of music and video in the game. However, copying the music and video folders off the CD and into the root directory (I was surprised the installer itself didn’t even give me the option to do this automatically) solved that problem. Musically, you can take it over leave it — there’s not much going on. But the intro and end cinematics are a strong part of the banter.
Then, installing patch 1.2 and the true hack ‘n’ slash expansion Nox Quest (do you remember when DLC was free?), I had to copy that installer off a PC Gamer demo disc (remember those?) and run it with admin privileges before it would acknowledge that I had any hard drive space free.
In-game, there are no problems, though I must say that the game’s maximum resolution, 1024×768, is pretty squint-inducing (though this may be my terrible eyesight). The mouse cursor doesn’t have adjustable sensitivity, and possibly due to the game not being designed for this “high” resolution, it tends to feel a little heavy. It also had a habit of disappearing entirely while using the escape menu, but this seems to have dissipated as I moved on through the game.
But these are all small complaints. The game still works as smoothly as it did the day it was born.
Besides, Nox is actually three games. You can play as Warrior (whom I chose this time), Conjuror or Wizard.
The core mechanics stay the same — though as Conjuror and Wizard you tend to run away from people rather than towards them — but the tools available to you change significantly. Though the core story is the same for each path, at least a third of the game plays out quite differently, going between presenting alternative forms of the same geographical locales and new asides that the other paths don’t get to visit.
There isn’t much RPG to Nox. Althout your character ostensibly has levels and gets more powerful as you go along, the three story paths are extremely linear — the worst you’ll do is miss out on a few extra experience points in secret areas. The RPG experience comes more from your choice of equipment, weighing up better protection with various levels of enchantment or durability.
Basically, Nox is a class act all the way.
And since it’s recently been re-released on gog.com, you can experience it for yourself for an exceptionally reasonable sum of money.
But I’ll be here, with our original CD. Double-CD, in fact… Remember when Westwood gave double CDs for everything, so you could play networked with a mate without both owning the game? Gosh, those were the days.
So many memories! But they don’t need to be memories. They can still be real experiences, because Nox isn’t afraid of your modern OS or hardware.