SpellForce: The Order of Dawn
|SpellForce: The Order of Dawn|
|Developer(s)||Phenomic Game Development|
|Publisher(s)||Encore, Inc. (The Order of Dawn)
JoWooD Productions (The Breath of Winter, Shadow of the Phoenix (Europe), Gold Edition)
Aspyr Media, Inc.(Platinum Edition)
Dreamcatcher Interactive (SpellForce Universe)
|Release||The Order of Dawn
|Genre(s)||Real-time strategy, role-playing|
SpellForce: The Order of Dawn is a real-time strategy and role-playing video game developed by German game studio Phenomic Game Development and released on November 11, 2003 in Europe and on February 11, 2004 in North America. The game was re-released in 2009 on GamersGate.
The original game was followed by two expansions: SpellForce: The Breath of Winter in 2004 and SpellForce: Shadow of the Phoenix in 2005. The main game and the first expansion were later released as the SpellForce Gold Edition, the SpellForce Platinum Edition includes all three games.
A sequel, SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars was released on August 21, 2006. It was followed by an expansion; SpellForce 2: Dragon Storm on August 1, 2007. A second expansion; SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny was released on July 1, 2012.
A third expansion titled SpellForce 2: Demons of the Past was announced by Nordic Games in June 2013.
SpellForce is a combination real-time strategy and role-playing video game. The game takes place in a broken world called Eo that was torn apart by a ritual called the Convocation. The ritual was performed by 13 powerful mages that in their greed for power caused the continents of the world to shatter. After the ritual only small pieces of land remain around magical towers created by the god that created the world. The pieces of land are connected by magical portals that make travel between them possible.
The game features campaign mode, free game mode and multiplayer mode. To begin you have to create a character called an Avatar or choose a ready made one that represents you in the game. When creating an avatar you can choose to be a melee fighter, archer or magician and have to distribute 30 stats points among your character stats. Increasing certain skills allows you to use certain weapons and spells. After this is done you can start playing. You start as a level 1 character that has to complete quests and kill hostile game units to gain experience to rise in level. Your character is an immortal warrior called a Runewarrior created by the mages that destroyed the world to fight their wars. If your character dies in battle it will respawn at the last activated bindstone on a map. These stones are found around the maps and can be activated when your avatar is close by. To aid you in your quest you have other Runewarriors at your disposal. These include hero runes and worker runes of six races (humans, dwarves, elves, orcs, trolls and dark elves). To use them you have to control a monument where that type of unit can be trained. There are seven different monuments; a hero monument and one for each race. To gain control of a monument you have to move your avatar close by to activate it. When activating a monument of a race you first need to train workers that can gather resources for you to construct buildings and train fighting units. At the start of the campaign not all runes, units and buildings of each race are available but are gradually unlocked as you progress through the game. When your avatar rises in level you can use rune stones of higher levels that enable you to defeat tougher opponents. In the lengthy campaign you need to complete quests in order to progress. There are two types of quests; main and side quests. The main quests are essential to complete the game; side quests are optional. Quests usually involve defeating enemy encampments, certain key enemy units, finding objects or persons and defending allies.
The Circle was a group composed of the 13 most powerful mages from all corners of the world, drawn together by a shared desire to study and explore all aspects of the magical arts. During their studies they vastly expanded their already considerable powers, and learned to master the Allfire (known as Archfire in SpellForce 2). This act granted the Circle Mages immortality.
In their lust for power, they came across a Text in the land of Xu left by the Fial Darg that spoke about a ritual known as the Convocation.
SpellForce: The Order of Dawn, begins a few years after the Convocation. The Convocation was a ritual that would supposedly grant immense power. At the beginning of the world, Aonir, the Star God, overcame the power of the elements and henceforth held them down, bringing the world into being. But under a certain constellation of planets, Aonir's star is darkened and his will broken. The Circle Mages hoped to take advantage of this by seizing the power of the elements for themselves in order to become almighty. Before long, they were fighting each other for dominance. Vast armies swept across the continent, destroying everything in their path. On the day of the Convocation, they summoned the elements, only to find that their powers were too weak to tame them. Unleashed and uncontained, the elements ravaged Eo, shattering the lands and leaving them scattered and broken. In the end, only small islands remained, clustered around the magical towers that held the power of Aonir, drifting amidst the elemental sea.
The Circle Mages needed vast armies that would be loyal and could be gathered quickly. This is when they had the idea of the Runewarriors. The Runewarriors were fighters and mages whose souls were trapped in stones from which their masters could summon them forth to do their will. Any deaths would be meaningless, as the gift of immortality enabled the Runewarriors to be re-summoned from within the stones at will. With these stones the mages could form immense armies quickly and easily. Sending them forth in unhaltable tides, they would serve their masters for eternity had it not been for the Convocation.
Story of The Order of Dawn
The story starts with the retired Circle servant Tahira, who reluctantly agrees to help a soldier find her lost companions and complete their objective: to find a powerful Runestone believed to be in the hands of the local orc tribe.
She battles the orcs with the aid of the Runewarriors and claims the Runestone. The stone is handed over to Rohen Tahir, the last known surviving mage of The Circle.
Rohen then sets off to the Shadow Pass near the town of Greyfell where he finds an old monument to summon the Runewarrior, who is both the protagonist, and the player's avatar in the game. He gives the Runewarrior his own Runestone, thereby freeing him from his slavery. He tells the Runewarrior that he has made efforts to hold what is left of the world together. Rohen has travelled long years to create portals that connect the islands. He asks the avatar to follow a messenger to the nearby town of Greyfell where orders will be awaiting him. He then leaves the avatar and travels to the Wildland Pass, after receiving news that "creatures of black steel" are breaking through. The last thing Rohen says is "so it has begun".
The messenger leads the avatar into an ambush from another, unknown mage, henceforth called "The Dark One". After freezing the avatar in ice, the mage talks about how Rohen is walking into a trap and refers to him as an "old fool", before ordering the messenger to kill the Runewarrior and deliver a magically sealed casket which contains plans for an invasion before leaving. The messenger fails to kill the Runewarrior, however, and the Runewarrior begins his quest to save Rohen from his fate.
The Runewarrior now gathers news in Greyfell and learns that a large part of the northern kingdom has been overrun by mercenaries known as "The Black Fist" who have allied with the orc tribes. The protagonist has to battle through many foes but eventually he meets up with Rohen before any harm has come to him in a land known as the "Frostland Marches". However, Rohen, surprised to learn that another Circle Mage has survived, gives the player a book about the Convocation and tells him to find "Hokan's legacy", the only thing powerful enough to stop a Circle Mage.
Rohen then unlocks the casket, only to find it empty. The dark mage suddenly appears and kills Rohen. He doesn't kill the avatar though, but tells him to return to the Order of the Dawn for "the time of dawn has past, the time of war has begun". The path deeper into the Frostlands is blocked by an army of the "Iron Ones", large creatures of black steel.
The avatar returns to the Order, and then begins his quest for "Hokan's legacy". Hokan was once a Circle Mage, too, the most powerful necromancer ever known. It seems that Hokan's ghost still remains amongst the living and is controlling his undead armies which survived the Convocation. Now they are attacking the isles inhabited by men, searching for an artifact known as "The Mask of Belial". The player eventually obtains the mask and hands it over to Hokan in exchange for information about the "Phoenix Stone", which is the only artifact able to stop a Circle Mage. He also learns that the "Iron Ones" were created by Hokan himself as weapons against the demonic hordes his opponent Uram summoned.
The avatar is about to return the Phoenix Stone to the Order of the Dawn, when, in an attempt to help the avatar, the army of the Order attacks the army of the Iron Ones, and breaches the barricade lines in the Frostland Marches. Though victorious, the Order's army is left in ruins in the process. The avatar takes advantage of this opportunity and pushes onwards towards the Circle Mage.
The avatar, however, walks into a trap, resulting in the theft of the Phoenix Stone, along with the Book of the Convocation. He nevertheless continues his desperate pursuit of the Circle Mage, eventually fighting his way to his target, who at last is revealed to be none other than a young version of Rohen himself, intent on attempting the Convocation again, sure that this time it will work for him.
Rohen thanks the avatar for all that he has accomplished before, using the power of the Phoenix Stone, he walks into a time-gate that sends him back into the past, years before the Convocation. We see an illustration of how time passes, with Rohen maturing to become his elder self again. We see him just before the Convocation, speaking of how his younger self, about to perform the Convocation, does not know what he is doing, and how he, still referring to his younger self, was a fool, revealing a time paradox, with the young Rohen travelling forward in time and killing his older self, taking the book and the stone and returning in time only to discover that he is now the old Rohen, and has to stop his younger self.
After seeing the cutscene the player is taken back to the main menu and can start a new game with a different character if they want.
Story of Breath of Winter
In the Wake of the world, when the elven people were young, a great and powerful dragon named Aryn, the Frostweaver, is about to freeze the whole world. Suffering the bitterness and loneliness of his existence he brings frost to everywhere he seeks for a partner. Only Cenwen, the elven queen, stands against Aryn, and warms his heart with her singing. Aryn grants his gift to the ice-elven people, in return taking Cenwen with him forever, weaving a protecting Glacier around them.
The player starts with a completely new avatar in the Swamps of Urgath. Summoned and freed by Grim and Lena, two sub-leaders of a refugee group, the avatar is to find and bring back Dunhan and Reowys, two other runewarriors who led the group shortly before. After many adventures, the avatar manages to recover the runes and bring Dunhan and Reowys back to the refugees under his order.
Then Grim reveals a plan to attack the ice-elf city in order to bring Cenwen back to Aryn, for the ice-elves want to bring ice all over the world through making Aryn search for his partner. The Attack is successful, but Grim does not free Cenwen, who is not in the city at all, but frees a Fial Darg, a prince of Darkness, and leads an invasion army into the land of the ice-elves. Lena and the avatar realize that they have been fooled by Grim, and that they have to save at least the refugees from the dark elven Crimson Empire. They manage to bring the humans to the Capitol of the ice-elves.
Here, Lena and the avatar hear about the plot of the Fial Darg: He wants to use the blood of Cenwen, a firstborn, to bring back, dark gods Zarach and Nor, into the world. The avatar has to seek out for the only weapon that can stop a Fial Darg, the shadow sword. But to stop the Fial Darg and save the world, the avatar has to pay an enormous price: the sword transforms its wielder into a shadow, invisible strangers from outside the world, mysterious and hidden before the normal eye.
The avatar ignores this price and finds the shadow sword, then he kills the Fial Darg (who in return kills Lena) and brings Cenwen back to Aryn, who return to the Glacier and bring peace to the world.
Story of Shadow of the Phoenix
The Masked One is revealed to be the circle mage Hokan Ashir, who was brought back to life by the Mask of Belial, and he is trying to resurrect the Circle mages with the use of the Essence Potion. He made from the blood of the god Ereon, who is actually Darius, by doing so they are restored back to life with all of their former power, but the potion also ties brings them under Hokan's control. Hokan was once a member of the Zerbite Order, a group of mages who were studying the Black Jungle, the place where Zarach created the dark races, there, Hokan discovered Zarach's old home, the Bone Temple, inside he found the Mask of Belial and when he wore it he went into madness and got knocked out, after he awoke he was a completely different person, the mask had granted him the power of necromancy and thus the greatest necromancer in Eo was born, by wearing the mask, Belial's spirit a demi-god and follower of Zarach, gained power over Hokan. By resurrecting the Circle mages he tries to re-establish himself in the world of Eo as the new God of Death by merging himself with Belial and then absorbing Ereon's divine soul to become unstoppable.
Belial and the Circle mages can only be stopped by releasing the Phoenix from the Phoenix Stone. The Phoenix can only be freed from the stone by the Shadow Blade, both items are obtained in the original game and the first expansion. You can either choose to play further with one of your characters from the previous games and level them up to level 50 or to play with a predefined character.
In the German market, SpellForce sold above 100,000 units by early 2004.
Andrew Park from GameSpot said in his review of the game: ‘SpellForce's unique combination of role-playing and strategy elements makes it worth a look for fans of either kind of game.’ However he said about the voice-over ‘some of it is decent, though the rest is fairly bad.’ The game scores a 7.4 based on 24 reviews by GameSpot for metacritic score and a user score of 8.3.
In the review of Dan Adams of IGN the gameplay and graphics of the game were praised. However he said about the voice acting that it was some of the worst he had heard in a while. He gave the game an overall score of 8.2 out of 10.
Alex Tsotsos from GameSpy said about the game that as a single-player game, SpellForce shines. However he said the game lacked ‘the plotline choices that mark the best RPGs.’ He also criticized the enemy AI and gave the game a score of 3 out of 5 stars.
|2004||1st||Best soundtrack and in-game sound||SpellForce - Breath of Winter|
|2nd||Best cutscenes||SpellForce - The Order of Dawn|
|Best interface||SpellForce - Breath of Winter|
|3rd||Best mid-price game|
|2005||2nd||Best level and game design||SpellForce - Shadow of the Phoenix|
|Best role-playing/adventure game|
|3rd||Best soundtrack and in-game sound|