Eye of the Beholder 2 is much like the original, and while there have been some enhancements and changes made in this sequel, I’m still not sure if I think they’re overall for the better or worse.
Better: Improved cutscenes and visuals that more closely resemble Lands of Lore. Some of the locations are quite similar to Lands of Lore and I even recognize many of the same sound effects.
Worse: Making maps for this game is an absolute nightmare. Way worse than the last one. There are soooo many parts that teleport you to unknown locations, stairways that seem like they would lead to the next floor, but actually just lead to another part of the same floor you’re on, and a lot of areas that have moving walls or illusionary mazes that are a huge hassle to try to map. It can get extremely confusing and I had to resort to the maps in the cluebook a lot just to get my bearings so I didn’t have to keep starting whole new pages every time I ended up in some random room whose location I didn’t know.
Also worse: They hit you much harder with various status effects, curses, and instant kills in this one. There’s the gelatinous cubes that destroy your gear, there’s the whole level that you can’t rest on and can’t leave until the end, and there’s medusas that turn you to stone and you almost certainly don’t have the really high level spell you need to cure it so you’re basically just insta-killed.
There’s also giants that will just slaughter your whole team in around two hits, which are basically impossible to effectively fight in the tight corridors they inhabit unless you use the specific Hold Monster spell. Mind Flayers, which will freeze your whole group in 1-2 hits, again resulting in an instant loss. Of course there are Beholders too, which will insta-kill you with death and disintegrate spells. All of these guys are disastrous in groups of more than one, and of course, that’s exactly what you’ll be running into pretty often.
The further you get, the more you have to almost completely rely on save-spamming and/or extremely cheap hit and run tactics (if there’s even room for that) and it gets pretty damn tedious in the last few areas when you’re just reloading over and over again because you keep getting wiped in two seconds on every encounter even when you have items that are supposed to be protecting you from nasty effects.
The tougher enemies you end up having to do the cheap dance to, which is where you just run around in a circle, or sometimes even just keep sliding left and right over and over, waiting for your two tanks in front to have an attack ready so they can chip away at the asshole until you win. Your powerful magic is just too slow to always be of use against enemies that can kill you in one hit, and entirely ineffective against some of the worst ones.
There was also one level that would have broken my whole game if I hadn’t been keeping multiple saves. If you choose the wrong direction at a fork in the path you could end up getting locked into a boss room that teleports you out of the level once complete, with no way to return, and guess what? There was still a key item back down that other path that you can’t win without. Hooray.
It probably doesn’t sound like I liked this game very much, but that’s not really true. While certain aspects of it are overly obtuse and sadistic to the point where I almost feel insulted, it still managed to be a fun dungeon romp most of the time. There was a lot more monster variety in this one and the level design was pretty creative for the most part.
I don’t know that I’d really recommend this to anyone except the most diehard of old DOS RPG fans because it’s just so damn clunky and actively player-unfriendly. This game wants to fuck you up badly and it’s not sorry. You need some serious patience and an unhealthy lust for dungeon crawling to appreciate a game like this. It was an interesting experience, but it’s still no Lands of Lore.