As I was stashing away some old CD’s (in this age of Steam, BattleNet and cheap Amazon downloads (that they really should start offering to Europe) those things are starting to seem obsolete) and behold what I found: my copy of MORDOR: Depths of Dejenol.
“Mordor – The Depths of Dejenol is a grand scale Fantasy Role Playing game that captivates all who play it. This first advanture will take you into the Mines of Marlith, now known as the Depts of Dejenol.
In the Depts of Dejenol you will create characters from a choice of races, oversee their training in skills taught by one or more of a dozen guilds and lead them into a mysterious dungeon on a nearly endless mission of exploration, mapping and looting.
Along the way you will encounter hundreds of exotic and terrifying creatures and when properly trained you will be able to charm or vanquish them as you see fit.
As you venture deeper into the mines you will discover rare and powerful artifacts. Artifacts that you can sell for considerable profit or use to cast magical spells.
The deeper you explore the more excitement and challenge you will find. But proceed with caution or you may discover why so few explorers return from… the Depts of Dejenol.
So why am I all in an uproar about a game from 1995? Well. It just so happens that Mordor is a damn good game. You could call it the archetype RPG game (nitpickers would note the fact that the game as such has no story and it is therefore more of a Dungeon Crawl), the proto-RPG so to speak. This is an artefact from the time where iconic concepts such as XP, loot, characters and spells were still being ironed out. The RPG (and MMO) genre today is so familiar with these concepts that no one stops to think about it. Why do I need to kill a monster to “gain XP”? You might as well ask why I have to inhale to breathe. Game mechanics aside this is also a trip down memory lane for iconic fantasy concepts. As the title of the game so brilliantly shows all these concepts originated from Tolkien. Elves are mystical and long lived. Dragons breathe fire and gather hoards. Rings contain potent magic. Dwarves dig for mithril (too greedily and too deep). All these concepts become so familiar that when Dragon Age introduce elves who live in slums and have lost their immortality we are awed.
The fascinating “historical” aspects aside Mordor is, to me, a great game because it’s ruthless. Very much unlike games today there’s no saving your game, no easymode and very little room for being daft. You need to plan long term, map the dungeon and collect knowledge. As you venture deeper even the logistics of getting from town to the level you’re currently exploring and back again becomes challenging in itself. Knowing the “shortcuts” down through thelevels and the spots where you safely can teleport upwards becomes critical. In other words: the game presents an actual challenge and if you’re not up to it it will take your precious character, crush it, chew it up and spit it in your face.
..and the music is quite catchy (the game itself: addictive).