When the remastered version of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Landed in 2016, I jumped in with both feet. Ditto with the version made for virtual reality that arrived in 2017. Each time, my journey through the homeland of the Nords is suddenly ended. I went through the villages and departure towns that I had explored in 2011, then I climbed the mountain until the first big dungeon, then bored with each time.
This time, a free total conversion mod has me completely hooked. This is called Enderal: Forgotten Storiesand it's the most fun I've had in an Elder Scrolls game for years. This is because it looks and plays very differently from a traditional Elder Scrolls game.
Enderal is a fantastic new world created by SureAI's team of experienced non-commercial gaming developers. I begin as a castaway stranded on an unknown shore, rife with horrible dreams filled with madness, murder and flames. I soon learn that my latent powers emerge from a kind of magical puberty at the end of flowering. The first hours of opening include a set of fairly linear introductory quests designed to allow me to easily penetrate into its new game systems. The goal is to link with a group called The Order, then to embark on a quest to discover the mystery of red madness, a mental illness that rages in a dazzling way.
The story itself is interesting, but what makes Enderal resonate is an original and entirely composed group of voices. Combined with improved graphics and revisited character models, the game looks new and much more realistic than anything Bethesda Game Studios has been creating for years.
The game is as difficult as nails. In the original version SkyrimSpecialization was the key to moving quickly to the next level and finally mastering your enemies. Enderalon the other hand, requires a much more multidimensional approach. Expect to use magic and melee equally if you want to survive for the first few hours.
The skills have also been completely reworked. As I progress, I gain learning points that can be used to improve individual skills, such as lock picking and heavy armor. But to be able to use these learning points, I have to explore the nooks and crannies of the game world, search for the right textbooks and other informational materials. Whereas the characters in Skyrim are largely self-taught, Enderal, knowledge is just another resource in the world that I must earn through exploration.
Fortunately, exploration is a reward in itself. I'm only a few hours, but already Enderal turns out to be a beautiful world with an incredibly varied topography. Although The Elder Scrolls games can be quite flat and open at times, this mod offers winding roads that go up and down. I'm never quite sure what I'm going to find at the next turn and, for the moment, nothing is materializing in front of me as I progress. I was ambushed by bandits hiding in tall grass, struggling with trolls along the shores of a cold mountain stream, and driving spiders into a dimly lit cavern.
Also, thanks to the maturity of SkyrimModding community, many improvements and technical improvements have been made to the game. The density of animations and particle effects in the open world and in the dungeons is simply amazing. Of course, much of SureAI's magic involves overlaying several hacks and the workaround on an eight-year old game engine. Expect many crashes when you manually set the appropriate settings for your PC.
More than anything, I am impressed by the depth and tactics of the fight. This sounds more like a game in the Gothic series, but with the ease of use and simplicity common to Elder Scrolls games. The result is something that looks a lot more appealing. I still had fun with a sword and a shield, which is simply no longer possible for me with the Bethesda classic. Although I never finish another part of Skyrim, I'm looking forward to spending more time with EnderalCampaign of more than 30 hours in the coming weeks.
Enderal: Forgotten Stories is available as a free download on Steam. All you need is a copy of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, which can be obtained these days for only $ 19.99, when it is not on sale for a lot cheaper.