I do not recall ever playing a Java game before. It's a little different playing something which takes advantage of Windows as well.
My forays into Silmar began with the usual plot, scrolling a little jerkily up a small window in the centre of the screen. Basically an evil sorceror has created a magical dungeon and it is full of treasures and monsters, blah blah blah. Your basic rogue-style game plot, really. This one is a little different as, instead of destroying the evil dragon/balrog/sorceror/cabbage, or finding the mystical Thing of Whatsit, you are simply scavenging for treasures for your village.
You begin in the town level. Here many characters await, starting with the hireling (who takes treasures back to your village) and the king's servant, who'll buy stuff off you for cash. Other characters await inside the various shops, and they will sell you supplies, heal your character, repair your stuff, identify items and so on.
The game cheerfully admitted that characters often die very quickly and that the first level of the dungeon should be considered a test! Two characters quickly succumbed to early graves before I managed to explore very far. My strategy now was to swap my near useless dagger for a short sword and a shield.
Thus armed, I descended into the dungeon and was fortunate to find a small cache of cash in a chest, and a few interesting items like plate armour. Not strong enough to wear the armour, I returned to the surface and sold it for a fair sum. The money I gained allowed me to heal my battered character up and buy some better equipment (like a crossbow!), which got me down to the second level.
Level two of the dungeon introduces new enemies. So far I had been attacked by rats, bats, skeletons and goblins (and met a rather unfriendly sphinx). Now I encountered munchkins (who steal things) and flying orbs with teeth!! Alas, by this stage my character had become diseased from a rat bite and his endurance was fading rapidly... I know more now than I did, so I'll definitely be playing again!
Controls are all mouse-driven. Click on the ground and your character moves towards that point, click on people and objects when you are next to them to interact (including attacking monsters). A set of buttons on the right hand side open up windows that let you adjust your inventory and so on. Characters have a set amount of 'movement', which can be a little disconcerting as you suddenly stop and your enemies surge forward!
I like the graphics. They're not 3D modelled, lightsourced, raycast virtual objects - they're little pictures that symbolise everything in the game. Ah, a return to the good old days! Sound is minimal - no music beyond a chord or two, but a range of basic sounds for all the actions in the game. This suits the style - Silmar isn't a massive dungeon adventure spanning aeons and gigabytes, but a bit of fun for a spare half hour.
Silmar is a simple game and, as such, it is difficult to find fault with it. Surviving the first dungeon level is more down to luck than skill but, once started, the game is absorbing. One area I did find confusing was the saved games. I created a dungeon with the name "Bytten". I reached level two and now, if I want to continue, I have to choose between Bytten, Bytten_End, Bytten_Copy, Bytten_End_Copy, Bytten_End_End... I'm not sure which of these is which! The obvious "Bytten" choice took me back to the start of level one!!
If you like RPGs, Silmar is worth a look. If you find RPGs overly complex and lengthy, Silmar is just the RPG you should be playing, as it is neither.
Keywords: silmar review, jeff mather reviews, jeff mather games, silmar scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.