Some of you have heard me talk about this game now probably to the point of annoyance. But I’m bringing it up again because I officially hit my highest score EVER last Sunday night. Have to share, as I learned several new things along the way (How damned deep is this game? Infinite, feels like.)
The dungeon is supposedly 26 levels down. On the 26th level is an amulet. If you find it, you are to return to the surface with it. So technically there are 52 levels.
In my most epic run, I've now made it down to 23! By the time I made it to level 20 I also achieved for the first time a new rank of Master Rogue which I didn’t even know was a thing. I have always thought Rogue was as high as you could go. Also, when you get to this character level - actually when you achieve Rogue, you regenerate your hit points much faster than when you are first starting out, which is awesome. It's almost like you're wearing a ring of regeneration. I knew something really special was happening as my score (accumulated gold) had crossed the 4K barrier. My final score after the “Death Tax” was a whopping 4,265 completely dwarfing my previous high scores in the 3,000 ranges by almost a thousand points.
In the Amiga version of the game it is possible to find Broad Swords and even Two-Handed swords, which can offer much greater potential To-Hit ability and Damage. On top of that, I’d cast several enchant weapon spells, so my To-Hit adjustment was +3. I could hit and kill many monsters in a single hit. For the first time I could stand toe-to-toe with F’ing Trolls! I even killed two vampires on my way down. I felt invincible! If I ran into trouble, I had several potions of teleportation and paralysis. You can throw paralysis on a monster and just walk around it (and run like hell) when needed.
I fell a few levels down (trap doors in the floors). On level 20, I actually - luckily - teleported into a giant maze - RIGHT NEXT TO THE STAIRS DOWN. First time I’d ever seen stairs inside a maze before, and realize how lucky I was to have found them. Insane! A demon whispered into my ear...
When I got to level 21 I suddenly had an idea that had not once occurred to me before. I decided to Save my game, which is a feature I’d never used before.
My heart fluttered with this evil new plan. Why hadn't I ever done this before?!“If I die, maybe I can restore my game from a previous Save and try a different strategy!”
I continued down.
On level 23 I encountered a Medusa. Even with my stacked Hit Points, Armor and Weapon, I fell in battle after 3 hits. She was just too powerful. My best bet would have been some sort of magic to allow me to run away.
I exhaled and stared at the screen as I waited for the game to write my score to the floppy disk.
Then I restarted Rogue and used the Restore function. Guess what? My save files had all been deleted! Rogue said, “Nope!”
I couldn’t believe it even though in fairness this was the right thing for the game to do.
So then I performed an experiment. I could see the save file I wrote to disk when I used the Save feature. What if I copied those files to a 2nd location? That way, if I died and my original Save was deleted, I could move it back to the disk after the fact! I nearly sprouted horns.
So I tried this approach with a character I'd taken down to Level 9.
To my horror, the game would start the game and load my character - but I could not hit any monsters anymore. I could walk around, but as soon as there was a battle I could only stand there and impotently whack at things to no avail. The game had thought of this, too! Amazing.
I did a second test with a much lower-level character, and for some reason that test actually worked. So I’m not sure what the threshold for stopping the cheat might be. But apparently if you are on level 9, the game will strip your ability to attack anything and allow you to be killed by a lowly bat just to shame you for attempting such a thing.
Resigned to my fate, I stopped trying to do all of that. I’m extremely proud of my score but of course all that did was fuel my obsession even more. It’s like being turned away from a girlfriend you’ve had for a long time and not being given a reason. It’s hard to let go, you know?