Blaze & Blade: the search for more loot

…nope, no hidden rooms on the surface.
Bah. As I said, the Ancient Ruins was one area that, as a kid, always made me think I was missing something; some passageway into another area, or maybe some way of clearing the passages blocked by fallen earth, near the exit.
Ever since the first time I visited the area, walked around checking the speaking stones, got very quickly to the boss and beat it very quickly with an Elf… I always thought there should be more, and that I had to just be missing it. The feeling’s still there, which is why I’m backtracking now to check all the walls of the underground section, just in case I missed a secret passage as a kid.

The designers did something very right, here. Of all the areas in Blaze & Blade, this has to be one of my favourites.

Blaze & Blade: The Ancient Ruins

Today, the Ancient Ruins. Ordinarily, I’d delay tackling this area until my character had a few more levels under their belt, but a quirk of the area boss(es) gives me a chance at completing the area.

Currently, my Sorceress is at level 77 and feeling nervous about the area. This is actually a good thing; thanks to luck defeating enemies and with chests, my Sorceress has a fair bit more defence than she should probably have. Consequently, anything that does attack physically does about 3 damage per hit. I think I was taking more when I brought a Rogue here. A few enemies – such as the Chimera, which spawn in the lower ruins – use magic, but since they don’t use Magic Missile it’s not really a threat.
It’s rather silly that the most-dreaded spells this game can throw at me are all pretty low-level; Magic Missile and Sleep ruin anyone’s day, but Blaze and Blizzard can just be dodged. Case in point: the Chimera can throw out what I suppose is a poison cloud that follows you, just like a Magic Missile. However, it’s slow enough that you can keep ahead of it should it touch you, and does a single digit of damage. A low single digit. Admittedly it lingers for a while, but… you can outrun it.

The Ancient Ruins are actually a pretty small area, compared to pretty much any other area in the game. You can reach the boss of the area in less than a minute, if you know what you’re doing, and escape in about the same length of time. Even the volcano gives you challenge in exploration, in addition to a hideously-tough boss.

Above ground, there’s the entrance to the ruin, where you start out. This area is little more than a chasm in the somewhat-underwhelming ruins themselves. Paved ground and ruined columns extend from both the south and north sides of the chasm, and a second level of intact flooring sits below the upper level.
Entrance to the ruins proper is gained by jumping into the hole. Sadly, characters probably call this out no matter what setting they have for speech. It would have been neat, otherwise.

The underground section of the ruins is slightly larger, but not by much. Passages extend north and south of where you fall. The exit is south, but it’s not initially functional; you have to beat the boss to leave.
The boss room is directly north of where you land in the underground section of the ruins; on the map, it’s the area surrounded by the circular path. Though there are doors between where you start and that room, none of them are locked, or blocked, or require solving puzzles exported from Resident Evil to open.

The boss, incidentally, is a magical security system that makes copies of any people who enter the room. Theoretically, these copies then defeat intruders with their own strengths.
In practice, though, they’re more than a little wimpy. See, they can’t use spells. If I were a Warrior or other melee-based class, I’d be worried enough to, well, take off all my armour and weaponry before entering the room, then dressing whilst the clones stand impassively on plinths, naked… but copying a Sorceress without copying the ability to cast magic?
Useless, especially as the security system misjudges range and spends most of its time standing a few metres away, flailing wildly with its copy of my wooden stick.
As they also seem to have the same health total, it goes down easily and I didn’t take any damage from the encounter. Like the Kraken and Griffon, this boss doesn’t net you another jewel for the Sagestone. It does have a special death animation, however; I recommend visiting here just for that.

The main purpose of the Ancient Ruins, aside from providing what IS probably a very entertaining boss battle when playing with three other people and a multitap, is giving the player more of the background story about the incident that lead to Foresia being filled with demons and ancient ruins similar to this one; the first taste the player gets of this is from the tower area with the not-memorable name, in that odd room with five speaking stones.
See, in addition to demons, the insides of the ruins are also littered with significant-looking stones; some look similar in shape to the ones from the tower, and some are big black slightly-sloped monolithic things set into the ground. Touching – or, well, going near – any of these things makes them chatter away at you about ancient history. It just elaborates on what you hear in the tower, though.

All in all, though, I like this area. The Ancient Ruins, the Ruins in the Lake and the Valley of White Silver are all a welcome break from the sprawling monstrosities that are the Mausoleum and the Palace of the Immortals. There aren’t any puzzles to solve, the areas are very small, and enemies give off quite a decent amount of experience. There’s nice treasure to be found following beating the bosses at the Lake and Valley, and probably to be looted from the battered and burnt corpses of the normal enemies, too; and because they’re small, they’re easily farmed, too.
On the other hand, the next four areas – the formerly-inaccessible portions of the initial areas you visited – are mostly just as sprawling as the initial halves of those areas are. More RE-ject puzzles in Palace of the Immortals to come…

I remember, as a kid, thinking there had to be more of this area. More of the volcano-area, too. The messages at the ‘entrance’ – really the exit – of the Ancient Ruins tell of ‘valuable items in the small rooms on the left and right sides of the first underlevel’. Did they mean the level with the boss? Or the level of ruin below the surface in the first area?