Dark Messiah: Survival Guide
From Play It Hardcore
The rules of thumb for survival in Dark Messiah are surprisingly natural and realistic when one stops to think about it; honestly, the main reason a lot of people have trouble getting into a proper mindset for Dark Messiah is that so many other games have conditioned the gamers' experience into an avenue that just doesn't work very well. Incredibly enough, enemies in Dark Messiah, at least on Hardcore difficulty, are very much your equals. This is, obviously, terrible for you. You will be outnumbered almost constantly. The good news is that the basic rules of combat don't change very much throughout the game, and if you truly master and take to heart what's in this guide, you will be able to burn through much of the action in Dark Messiah without too much trouble.
- You are one person. Your enemies come at you as many as five at a time. This is bad.
- You are on an extended expedition, with no base camps to fully regenerate yourself. This is also bad.
- It is hard, and sometimes not possible, to efficiently dispatch an enemy with the skills you have. This is really bad.
- You can get poisoned often, and poison will practically kill you. This is incredibly bad.
- In conclusion, it's very easy to get hurt, and you by default don't have any place to constantly regain your health or repair your condition. In the end, you will have to be extremely safe or beyond good. Relying on being good is no guarantee. You can have preternatural senses of when to strike and what stroke to use, and you can still get your ass kicked by a quick one-two strike from an enemy you just didn't know was there.
- What to do about all that? The basic answer is: Be smart. Be safe. Make backup plans. Be cheap. Don't fight fair. Scour supplies. Be as thorough as possible.
- Use your environment. Always and forever. It is far more safe to use your kicks and your environment to knock down enemies than to trade blows with people. Barrels will be your best friend. They don't use stamina, knock enemies flat, and are incredibly common. Rocks and hay bales are just as good, only they are indestructable, to boot.
- Stop every now and then to let Awareness activate. There are tons of secrets in Dark Messiah, and it's easy to miss a lot of them. Let Awareness show you the way.
- As always in hardcore games: Heal. Don't hesitate. If you see the red flash, it should be a reflex to immediately hit whatever button your heal spell is. Don't wait until you perceive that you're down 30 or 40 or 50 health; it might already be too late by that point! Heal! Use your instant-heal potions if anything burly hits you. It's not uncommon to have to start passing up healing potions at one point or another.
- The desired end result for any regular fight you get into is to knock down the enemy and impale him. Impalements are usually instant kills, as long as your equipment is proper for the general area. Keep this in mind as you head toward battle.
- When entering an area, don't just charge in. Crouch, creep in, and look around. Note any visible enemies and, more important, any materials. Look for large throwable objects such as barrels and hay bales along with heavy things like rocks.
- Think about an escape plan for the worst case. Make a backup plan if possible. If things start getting bad, where do you run? If an ambush party shows up behind you, where are you going to hole up? Think of what you're going to do in the worst case. Some consideriations when planning fallback points:
- Does your fallback point have sufficient resources in the form of barrels or rocks to make a stand from?
- If not, can you work with it Is there a jar of oil nearby that you can ignite with Flame Arrow? Is there a choke point you can use a Scroll of Freeze on? Is there a campfire or spike barrier you can face to kick people into? A trap you can spring? Anything helps.
- As you make runs, you will become more and more familiar with the encounters and will be able to take less and less time on this step, but when you are going into a situation you're not very familiar with, a few moments of planning can save you from having to start a new run!
- There are 3 main steps to a standard fight: The setup, the knockdown, and the finish.
- Step 1, The setup: This is the step where you set up the enemy to fall into the plan you have set up. This usually just involves getting their attention. Dancing in front of an enemy usually works, and if they're facing away from you, clanging a weapon against the wall will make them turn around. Sometimes, it's simply waiting for an enemy to get to a point where they are vulnerable, overlooking a high cliff or something. There are other times this step isn't even required. If your plan is simply to throw a barrel at someone and stab them while they're down, then you can obviously just walk up and toss the barrel in their face, foregoing any more elaborate setup.
- Step 2, The knockdown: This is the step where, if necessary, you get the enemy knocked down so you can impale them. In the previous barrel example, this would be as simple as throwing the barrel and watching the guy go down. This could also be the point where you slap someone you just stunned with Charge, knocking them flat for the coup de grace. As before, not all plans necesserally include a clear knockdown. If you were to throw a jar of oil into an enemy's face in preparation for turning him into a torch with Flame Arrow, then you technically don't have a knockdown step.
- Step 3, The finish: This is where you take advantage and butcher your enemy. Usually, this involves standing over them and impaling them, but it can also be kicking them into a kill zone, igniting them (in the case of the oil jar example noted in Step 2), or simply letting them walk into a trap you've set up. Casting Freeze on an area at the edge of a cliff is a good example of this trap, as is soaking a doorway in oil and setting it alight with Flame Arrow.
- If your plan has at least two out of three of these steps, then it's reasonably safe and is unlikely to put you in a lot of danger. If it only has the plan for a finisher, then you are suggesting something that pretty much amounts to getting into a slugging fest, and unless you have an Adrenaline charge, it's a bad idea.
- Remain alert. There are many areas where a latecomer will come charging into the room, alerted by the noise you raised.
- After you are certain it is safe, scour the area for supplies. If you happen to come across potions you might be full on, start topping yourself off. Missing 10 mana? Go ahead and slug a mana pot if there's one right in front of you. Down 5 health? Drink a red; there's another in the chest. Don't keep stashes 'just in case'--it's not likely you'll ever return to the area to replenish your supplies.
- There are a few areas where you can revisit potential stashes, such as the goblin colony in the Spider Temple. Feel free to store surplus potions there and come back to retrieve them after killing Aratrok.
- Chill out and let Awareness activate. I like to have a water bottle nearby that I drink from every time I stop to let Awareness turn on. Obviously, this isn't that big of a deal if you're already pretty full on supplies, though.
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