angband: Polishing the classic format

adom managed to extrapolate on the traditional roguelike game, and add a wilderness and quests beyond the ordinary dungeon delve. angband sticks to the classic format, but adds a flavor of its own … and borrows some flavors from others.

2014-10-16-2sjx281-angband-01 2014-10-16-2sjx281-angband-02

There are a lot of things to like about angband: If you’re a Tolkien fan, angband probably has enough Lord of the Rings-ish references to keep you from complaining about transgressions against canon.

And if you’re a Dungeons and Dragons aficionado, there’s enough influence from the classic ruleset to keep you from griping about various editions and the evils of freestyle play. 🙄

Much of the gameplay follows the style of adom, or for that matter, rogue, hack, nethack, etc. So I won’t bore you with the same points about arrangement or controls. Here are a few points of angband that might interest you, that may or may not appear in other rogue-ish games:

  • You have a house in the surface town, where you can stash your treasures for later. I’ve seen this implemented as a “personal chest” or something like that, in contemporary games.
  • Merchants are at the top level, but so are street urchins and drunken brawlers. So being aboveground doesn’t mean you’re necessarily safe.
  • angband has an SDL-style interface (much like these three did), but you can force it back into ncurses mode with angband -mgcu.
  • There are also versions for OSX, Androids and Windows (none of which I use 😎 ).
  • The angband home page allows you to upload a character dump for ladder rankings. You don’t see that often in an ASCII game.
  • angband classifies monsters and uses characters to specify the group, instead of the individual creature. So a capital C is always a canine, a capital J is always a large(r) snake, and so forth. It makes it easy to see what a monster is, when you’re sneaking up on it.
  • What you see depends on your line of sight, so you can view down long hallways to a room beyond. This, for me, is a huge improvement over the old-fashioned one-square-around-you style of the myopic rogue game. 😕

My favorite point though, is that given enough space, the heads-up display is excellent. In one glimpse, I can see all the monsters within my field of vision, my entire character breakdown, the map and points of interest, my entire inventory and a log of game events. Specific actions (like reading a spellbook) will spawn another menu, which miraculously completes a dialogue without obscuring anything else. Every rogue-like should be so generous.

angband strikes me as a long game, given that there are 99 (?) levels with two “boss” monsters — perhaps appropriately named Sauron and Morgoth. If you start a game of angband, be prepared to work at it for a while.

angband is another 20-year epic of console gaming, and given that it does so well with color, gameplay and additional features, this is another easy decision to make: ⭐ 😀 Enjoy!