For the first video game article on the site, I wrote about the action-RPG, Gothic, and why it was my favorite game of all-time. There are two more games in this series that I love and will deliver retrospectives of them. This one will be on Gothic’s sequel, Gothic II: Night of the Raven. Like the first game, it’s a PC game developed by the German company, Piranha Bytes. Night of the Raven is an expansion pack of the original Gothic II released in North America in 2003 with the expansion pack released in 2005. The expansion pack added a new chapter, gameplay enhancements and additional items, weapons and attributes. The expansion pack is easily superior to the original and that is the focus of this retrospective. While I prefer Gothic to this game, Night of the Raven is a better game and is yet another masterpiece of gaming.
Night of the Raven takes place a few weeks after the events of the first game. The Nameless Hero defeated the Sleeper in his temple, causing the magic barrier surrounding the Valley of Mines to collapse. The prisoners in the colony were able to escape to the main island of Khorinis. However, the hero was trapped in the temple as the explosion of the barrier caused the underground temple to cave in.
Xardas, a necromancer the hero allied with himself in the first game, pulls him out of the temple into his tower on Khorinis. Xardas tells the hero that since the fall of the barrier, all hell has broken loose on the island as an army of dragons has invaded the Valley of Mines. The only way to defeat them is to acquire an amulet called the “Eye of Innos.” He must visit the Paladins in the city of Khorinis, soldiers from Myrtana sent to Khorinis to mine the magic ore in the Valley of Mines, and gain permission to acquire the amulet. A group of bandits has also kidnapped citizens from the city, taking them to an unknown part of the island called Jharkendar. The hero must find a way to reach the hidden location and put a stop to their villainous plans. In the process, he must join one of the three main factions: the city militia, the mercenaries and the fire magicians to progress through the story.
The game is a masterpiece with its character progression system, Jharkendar storyline and the return to the colony. The character progression system was a strong point in the first game and I think Night of the Raven’s is even better. There are similarities from the first game such as being weak at the beginning and the fighting animation changes as you learn how to fight. However, one way it improves is the equipment upgrade system. In the first game, you gain the best weapons and armor through the story. In Night of the Raven, it allows the character to earn the final equipment at a certain point.
For example, the faction I always join is the mercenaries and in the final chapter before the final dungeon. In chapter five, you return to Khorinis with equipment used to make the best armor available in the faction. In addition, there are strong enemies that appear across the island, carrying items that help pay for the armor and help forge the best swords. It makes the hard work in previous chapters worth it, making the conclusion of the game satisfying.
The expansion pack added the Jharkendar storyline and it is the best section in the game. It is a wild and vast land filled with different types of geography such as a swamp, beach, canyon and valley. The atmosphere combined with the soundtrack, composed once again by Kai Rosenkranz, is heavenly and a joy to explore. There are also pirates and buried treasures in Jharkendar. While attempting to stop the bandits’ plans, the hero explores ruined buildings as he learns about why the city that previously stood in the area was destroyed. The lore building along with the unique items and people make it the best location in the game.
The Valley of Mines was the location of the first game and in Night of the Raven, the hero must return there to face the army of evil. It is, in my opinion, one of the best moments in gaming history where you see a land so beautiful and peaceful in the previous game ruined and overrun by the enemy. Exploring the land from the previous game was a phenomenal experience and I still feel its impact today. It also sets up a doom-like scenario perfectly. Instead of hearing about a threat in the background, you directly see the thousands of orcs in the Valley of Mines. If you run into them, they will kill you due to their vast numbers. It is brilliant storytelling and I cannot praise the developers enough for creating the horrid atmosphere.
My two main issues with the game are the boss battles and its weaker story. Piranha Bytes excels at creating great gameplay but can never make a good boss battle. The boss battles in the game are glitchy and can be won easily if you how to work around the glitches. They are unsatisfying and can lessen their impact.
The overall story is solid but it’s nothing special. In the first game, you are a prisoner dropped into a barrier with no real idea what to do. You must figure out who to ally yourself with and how to survive. The story is filled with twists and turns. In Night of the Raven, you know the objective from the start of the game and besides Jharkendar, the story is very straightforward. It isn’t bad but it prevents me from enjoying it as much as the first game.
Overall, Gothic II: Night of the Raven was a fantastic game with its character progression system, Jharkendar section and the return to the colony. The best way to play the game is to download it on gog.com. If you like action RPGs, I highly recommend this game as it is great.
Link to download the game: https://www.gog.com/game/gothic_2_gold_edition