2001 年，《哥特王朝（Gothic）》横空出世。在我看来，该作为“单人远足模拟器”类游戏（即 Piranha Bytes 式 RPG 游戏）立下新的标杆。有趣的是，发售之初，开发者甚至没给这款游戏打上“RPG 游戏”这个标签。
Gothic came literally out of nowhere in 2001, and, in my view, set a whole new standard for single-character hiking simulators, aka “The Piranha Bytes RPG”. Funny how the developers didn't even label it as an RPG at its release.
When talking about why Gothic was something fresh and unique when it was published, it's definitely important to start with the setting and story, since it's essentially “Escape from New York... with swords!”. You're just a bloke, who's nameless for all intents and purposes because nobody even lets you introduce yourself. You're thrown into a prison mining colony surrounded by a one-way-entry forcefield, where the prisoners managed to rebel and take over the whole establishment. After that, you are beaten senseless (“baptised”) by a bunch of guards and left on your own.
The premise in Gothic is a very good hook because it presents a mix of low-key matters with a fairly unique setting. It also manages to uphold that to the end, as even though bigger and more fantastical events start happening, your character's only motivation is basically to get the hell out of the colony.
游戏台词呈现出两种鲜明的风格——此后，Piranha Bytes 也一直秉持这一特点——要么粗话连篇，要么奇幻味儿十足。这是因为冒险旅途中，玩家会遇到形形色色的人物，一方面，这些人物都是 RPG 游戏的常客——自视甚高的法师、残忍粗暴的恶棍，傻乎乎的苦力；但另一方面，这些角色又活灵活现，让人捧腹。
想要在这里脱颖而出，关键在于快速搜罗一身好装备，请求周围 NPC 为你提供训练，掌握游戏的战斗机制。在我看来，本作的战斗机制在动作类 RPG 游戏里数一数二。一开始，你可能觉得《哥特王朝》的战斗手感笨拙、反馈迟钝，但只要上手，每每遭遇强敌，战斗都显得格外惊险刺激，一着不慎就会身死道消。敌人不同，战斗方式也大相径庭，你必须见机行事，采取针对性战术，才能克敌制胜。
The general writing style, which would stick with Piranha Bytes henceforth, also emphasised the dichotomy between the vulgar and the fantastical very well, as you'd be coming across various really colourful characters, who are, on the one hand, rather typical pompous mages, brutal thugs, dumb peons -, but on the other, extremely believable and amusing.
But Gothic's biggest strength was not just showing you this strange prison colony, but also letting you visit its every nook and cranny. The world of Gothic was simply massive, as well as beautiful, with tons of places to check out, beasts to murder, secret caverns to penetrate and ancient tombs to raid. And above all, it was handcrafted, full of verticality and almost without barriers, so you could just go off and explore whatever you wanted – provided you could survive.
And that was where Gothic was tricky, because surviving was a lot harder than in most games. You know it isn't fooling around when your first opponent is a turkey that can horribly murder you in a few hits. And it was this ridiculous brutality that gave the game most if its unique charm. It simply didn't cut you any slack. If you wanted to get somewhere, you had to work for it, and the simple thought that straying off the beaten path could mean certain death made every step into the wilderness something special. Especially at night. Through a forest. With no map.
The key to thriving was to quickly get better gear, beg people to train you in combat and master the fighting system, which I consider one of the best ones in Action RPG history. At first it seems clunky and unresponsive, but, once you get accustomed to it and take on harder opponents, every fight becomes an adrenaline-pumping effort where every mistake could mean death. Various enemies would also fight in different ways, and force you to adopt new tactics.
1 译者注：《纽约大逃亡》（Escape from New York）是一部科幻动作片：1988 年，为了应对不断翻倍的犯罪增长率，联邦将曼哈顿岛改建成一座庞大的监狱，囚犯们被扔到其中自生自灭，纽约城变成了犯罪之城。1997 年，代号“大卫 14”的美国空军一号被美国国家解放阵线劫持，最后坠毁在监狱城内，美国总统独自深陷城中。曾经的空军英雄普林斯肯中校由于抢劫银行入狱，政府决定利用普林斯肯潜入监狱城，救出总统。此处援引这部电影，旨在强调主角所在的矿场看守严密，戒备森严。