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Urtica ][ - Angelo

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Allright, this one is the most obscure game I know of and it is not hard to tell why.

 

First of all, it was released only in Czech language, that alone makes it an unknown title in most of the world. But despite the game being in my opinion very good, it is not known very well around here either. That is because it was released as freeware sometime around year 2001 so it was distributed mostly on CDs, with collections of other freeware titles and demos, which are an extra in gaming magazines like Score or Level.

I first found about it from a friend as a kid, I played it a bit and then forgot about it. Some years after I remembered it but the CD with the game was already lost. So I tried to search for it but only thing I could find on the internet about it was cheat codes. Later someone uploaded an installer for it and even made a youtube video. I of course immediately downloaded it, played it and finished it and I still have the installer file for it.

 

Urtica ][ - Angelo is a turn based RPG made by four people. Most of the work was done by Jan Dřevíkovský and Svatopluk Nevrkla, some of the level editing was also done by Vojtěch Dřevíkovský and music was made by Michal Nevrkla.

Funny thing is I have never heard the game's music. The installer file I have doesn't include music and I remember that the version on CD also didn't have any music.

A little talk with one of the developers has explained this. Turns out that they had some music for the game but there was too little of it and it would get repetitive, so they didn't include it.

A predecessor to this game - Urtica I - was a school project. It had been lost to time but some of the ideas were reused in the sequel.

 

Anyway, once you start up the game you are welcomed by nice little menu. Strange thing about the menu is that it doesn't use a window. It cannot be selected by Alt-Tab and it can't be found on bottom Windows panel. But the game itself does.

If you select New Game and write in name of your game you get into character selection screen where you get some traditional characters to select from like druid, paladin, necromancer, knight, assassin etc. But you can also create your own character using included character editor file:

 

Here you can select your avatar and spend your starting points on various stats. The first column from the left are basic stats like strength and endurance, then there are skills with various weapons and magic schools. There are also special skills which increases how many experience points you need to level up but they give you special abilities which gets better with every level, most of them are really good. For example "Talent in trading" skill increases how much money you get from selling stuff and decreases how much you pay. At 10th level you end with always selling for full price and buying for almost nothing. That could be gamebreaking but fortunately money doesn't play big role in the game.

Interesting thing is that you not only give a name to your new character but also you type in your profession. That means you can run around the world as anything you want - witcher, idiot, hobo... You might also get few titles to your profession and end up as XenoArchHobo.

 

 

The game itself looks rather simple:

 

 

Game is divided into four screens. One is the game world in top left. To the right is your character's statistics and in bottom right is your inventory. The rest of the screen is for displaying combat messages and dialogs with NPCs. The game is turn based so when you do something which takes a turn, everything else moves as well.

Now, some of you might already be thinking about Ultima and, even though I never played any of the Ultima games, just looking at the screenshots I see that there are similiarities with the older Ultima games. Hell, Urtica even uses two square brackets as number 2 just like Ultima ][ does.

 

Controls are predefined and cannot be changed as far as I know. There are keys for movement, keys for actions like picking up an item, examing an enemy etc., then there is a key for switching between game and inventory screen where you can move items and do something with them (eat, read, drop).

Finally you have a key for spell memorizing. What you do is that you type in the magic formula and if it's correct and it's a spell in your spellbook you can assign a key F1 to F8 for it's casting. The spell is then also shown on the border between game screen and stats.

You can also give orders to your minions ranging from "go here" and "follow me" to orders like "stop following my orders" and in case of undead even "explode".

Finally there are also some keys for shooting with a bow, stealing, operating mechanisms, deactivating traps, and other special actions.

 

All magic formulas are in latin. There are spells like a spell for pushing away the opponent - APAGE - roughly means "begone!" or "away!". Others are done in similiar fashion and can get quite long, for example this one is for creating undead minions from dead bodies - EXTREMIS MALIS EXTREMA REMEDIA.

Spells themselves have a nice variety, there are of course the usual combat spells like lightning bolt, fireball, meteor shower then there are a bit more interesting combat spells like ball lightning which moves around and attacks enemies, rising undead, animating trees (and growig new trees on unoccupied tiles) and quite a good number of more utility oriented spells for example teleportation, transformation into bat, invisibility, various buffing spells and a spell for creating potions from ingrediens.

 

Last thing I would like to mention regarding game mechanics is food. Next to your hit points, mana, weight and money is a food counter, every move decreases it and you can replenish it with food, visiting an inn or there is also a nourishment spell. Once it gets to zero you start losing health with every move.

At some places in the game food can be a bit of a problem, specificaly in Warp where there is I think just one source of food so you are always returning back to it and together with respawning enemies there... you just don't want to spend too much time there.

 

 

Anyway, the game has the usual solid leveling system, increasing an attribute of your choice with every level, has a good amount of different items and equipment with various bonuses to wearer, interesting spells and great variety of enemies. The game is also filled with funny dialogs (not that the game is filled with jokes but rather it's the way these dialogs are written what makes them funny) and even though it follows a linear plot it has many sub plots on the side and makes you do some choices and pick sides - that shows up mainly in quests for guilds which on some places goes against each other and you can satisfy only one side.

So, the plot. You start in a village where you were born and where you are studying under the guidance of your mentor. You were studying in catacombs for months and talking to villagers it becomes clear that things changed. Roads are filled with goblins, wolfs went bonkers, no caravans can get through and thats bad for business. On top of that your mentor wants to see you, gives you an evil amulet and sends you south to find out more about it. As you go on you will figure out that there are bad guys who want these artifacts of evil to resurect the god of chaos and you have to stop them and destroy the artifacts. Looks like a basic good vs evil plot, but in reality it's not that simple and there is a nice twist to it.

One neat thing, what the game does, is that at the end of the game you can read through your story as told by a historian who is born after the events of the game and collected information about your deeds. And as it sometimes goes, some of your actions have quite an unexpected impact on the future.

 

 

If you understand Czech language, you enjoy RPGs and you don't mind the game being turn based, I say give it a go, you won't regret it.

However if you don't speak Czech, you probably won't ever play this game. But if you are at least interested a bit in the story, I took the time to translate the ending of my playthrough which tells the whole story with pretty pictures. It is of course full of spoilers but because you won't ever play this, it shouldn't matter, so enjoy.

 

Read about the deeds of Enguzrad, the mighty XenoArchMage: https://www.dropbox.com/s/cfytklujpn1hjzd/enguzrad%20en.rar?dl=0

 

 

And that's all folks, but before you go I have a little puzzle for you:

 

 

In the game's mythology, there is a story about five elements - fire, water, earth, air and stinging nettle (or Urtica in latin). The four elements came to an agreement and found a place for every one of them - fire in the middle, earth around it, water cooling the earth and air surrounding it all. But there was no place left for the nettle, which made it mad. So the nettle attacked the other elements, it defeated air, water and earth but no matter what nettle did it couldn't defeat the fire and burned to dust. Thats why fire is so unpredictable and dangerous because it was the only one to keep it's soul.

 

Anyway, in the game there are four obelisks with urtica seeds on top (or seeds of evil, as druid Norbert said), you want to destroy these obelisks because they are attacing Gaia and that's bad. One of the obelisks surrounded itself by water so you have to get there in a form of bat, but if you get too close some magic field kills you.

However, there is a magic formula to negate this field and it is encrypted in a book.

Your only clues are that "letters forming the formula are adjacent to something" and that formulas don't have diacritics (in other words, you should ignore the carons (wedges) and acutes).

The text is of course written in Czech, but given that all formulas are in latin I don't think you need to understand the text to pick up letters based on some rule. There are few letters which are capitals and I bet they are the key to the encryption but I have never figured it out (I always just killed the hidden demon creating the field).

 

So if you have an idea, just send me a message and I'll try your formula out, see if it works.

 

Edit: Solved! I'm an idiot! I don't know why but I tried putting together letters which comes after capital letters yet I never tried to get letters which comes before the capital letters. Those letters gives you an actual latin formula instead of gibberish.

 

 

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Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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I remember playing a very similar game WAY back... It was in English though. I don't remember the name though. I've always wished someone would make another like this, it's a remarkably fun type of game. (similar in many ways to the Avernum series)

I'm full of shit

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"and even made a youtube video" - if you mean this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGNWdBAUTck

 

... then you are welcome. :D

 

Thanks for explaining the situation with the music, that has bothered me for many years. And I never thought to ask the devs. :D

 

I was going around this place because I'm a fan of Freeman's Mind, Civil Protection, the Game Dungeon, etc. and I was like "wait, somebody in here knows about Urtica? What the actual hell?!" :D

 

The internet is a small place it seems! :^)

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