Golden Krone Hotel
No, the famous Austrian hotel is not playing host to a lovely, atmospheric adventure game or an escape tableau. In 16-bit glory, and with procedurally generated floors, the Golden Krone Hotel (from Humbit) is the scene of a killing field: vampire-on-human-on-vampire-on-human style. Fane, the Exiled Vampire Prince, has taken up his residence at the hotel, and you must steal the Golden Krone and assassinate the prince to win the game. But if you think to yourself, "That's a nice, straightforward objective," think again. Before the dungeon-crawling, loot-trawling, and turn-based RPGing is over, if it ever ends in anything but your death, you may find yourself questioning if you have held on to an identity that wants to achieve that goal.
You play the game as General Sorina Arobase, Exalted Vampire Huntress. Equipped with a single spell and a short sword, you enter Fane's lair with your patron's last words of advice ringing in your ears: "I suggest you conceal your identity..." The game becomes a tapestry of hiding in plain sight woven in to a standard, rogue-like and retro dungeon/slasher game. So much of what goes on is best left to discovery, but the basics are these: your character moves, strikes and casts spells through the use of the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. Everything you have available to use, from spells to potions to actions, can be clicked or accessed via keyboard shortcuts.
The left side of the screen is your field of play, to the right is a raft of information. At the top you'll find your stats, in the center your actions and objects as well as a mini-map that reveals as you progress. In the lower right corner of the screen, you get a scrolling, play-by-play of your movement and activities. Once you've engaged an enemy, just as in Rogue and many games that came after, you need to think carefully about what actions you can take that will keep you in the game... whether you attack, or cast a spell, or simply try to get out of the way.
What sets this game apart from other brutally difficult games is the element of discovery, a part of which is the story that's revealed along the way. Sometimes it takes many lifetimes of foolish mistakes to make any progress, and sometimes you'll zip through the floors making all the right decisions as you go. But don't get in such a hurry that you miss the many, many items to pick up. You need all the potions and improvements to your armor that you can find; new spells will give you new advantages; and occasionally you'll stumble upon a clue that sheds light, so to speak, on why your strategies sometimes fail. Choose your disguise carefully, and don't get cocky. You might find yourself surrounded with no escape and the only way out is to die in a fiery heap.