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Video Game / Nox

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Nox is a 2000 isometric Action RPG by Westwood Studios.

The player assumes the control of Jack Mower, a normal schmoe, who is sent to the magical world of Nox and must train as a Warrior, a Conjurer or a Wizard and collect four items to defeat Hecubah, the ruler of The Undead, in order to find a way back to his home world. Though the storylines of the three classes are overall similar, their respective campaigns some rather significant differences regards to their plots, giving the game quite a bit of replay value.

In addition, it is worth mentioning the good people behind the "OpenNox" open source project, who are working on preserving the game through a extensive refurbishing of its engine to be more compatible with modern systems and more easy to create third party mods for. Along the OpenNox team's long-term goals are HD graphics and new features, such as new classes, created from scratch. OpenNox is available for free, but requires a legal copy of the original game to work.

The game provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Staff of Oblivion is only finished near the end of the final level. While it handily vacuums up any regular enemies or even minibosses that come at you, if you rely solely on it during the final boss fight you will still get curbstomped. To beat the final boss you actually need to use a combination of the Staff and your built-up spells/skill powers.
  • Action Bomb: The Conjurer can summon Bombers that can be loaded with up to three different offensive spells which activate when the Bomber blows itself up.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Some characters can have strange colored skin, but due to customization, you can choose whatever skin color you want your player character to have. Even green.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: After being drained of her power in the wizard ending, Hecubah seemingly becomes a normal, Nice Girl with none of her previous evil.
  • Amnesiac Lover: Heavily implied in the wizards' ending. Hecubah, having somehow been "purified" of her Necromancer traits, no longer has any memory of who she is, and it's strongly implied Jack is going to make her his girlfriend now.
  • Anti-Grinding: Weaker enemies stop giving XP if you're too far above them in power. This can make the Ix Graveyard especially annoying as it's mostly occupied by huge amounts of urchins, who've probably stopped giving XP at this point but can still overwhelm you with weak projectile attacks.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Destroy their stuff, steal from their homes, and town citizens do nothing.
  • The Atoner: That airship captain you keep running into is Jandor, looking to stop Hecubah' reign of terror after he saved her as a child.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Hecubah and her necromancers are totally evil and want to kill or enslave (or kill AND enslave) everyone else in the world, but it's not like the rest of the world is much better. Without necromancers to hate the warriors and wizards turned on each other. Horrendous and his warriors decided that Magic Is Evil and arrest wizards on sight; as a wizard you discover these people are taken to a secret underground prison and tortured to death. Horvath and his wizards decided non-magic-users were sub-human, and as a warrior their shops won't serve you and you get arrested on trumped up charges as soon as you enter their city. If Jack is either a warrior or a wizard he'll be forced to slaughter the other side too, because they would rather let the world end than work with you. Aldwyn and his conjurers at least aren't hateful, but they are complacent and passive and would prefer to watch the other two sides tear each other apart than get involved. The only completely good person here is the airship captain aka Jandor, and also maybe Jack.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Given that Horrendous is a Mage Killer who hates wizards with a passion, one would expect his realm to be free of mana crystals. While they are mostly in scarce supply in most of Dun Mihr, his throne room has them on every wall, perhaps due to his insistence on fighting fair.
  • Breakable Weapons: Both armor and weapons wear down on use and have to be fixed by a smith or replaced. The only exceptions to this are the Sneakers, your starting pair of shoes, and the Halberd of Horrendous, the first component of the Staff of Oblivion (and of course the Staff of Oblivion itself). Also, while playing as a Wizard, one may have a little fun by casting AOE spells at friendly NPCs to break their armor and strip them naked.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The Dismal Swamp and to a lesser extent the swamp outside Grok Torr.
  • Chain Lightning: A Wizard class staple. As long as the user stands still after the (short) casting period, mana will flow into electric damage points at a 1:1 ratio. Cheaper than any other spell for clearing Goddamned Bats.
  • Cool Down: All special abilities, be it spells or Warrior's skills, had a short cooldown period. Spells are additionally limited by the caster's mana supply.
  • Death Ray: Death Ray and Force of Nature, two very powerful spells. Also, the Staff of Oblivion.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The warrior's Berserker Charge. It starts out as a borderline Game-Breaker, doing exactly 100 damage, which is more than anything enemy until the Necromancer. It's gets less powerful as the game progresses and most enemies have over 100 health, but still is pretty useful and eventually does 120 damage instead. The downsides? It has a long Cooldown, and you have to be lined up right to hit the enemy (harder than it sounds). If you miss and hit a wall, you take damage and get stunned for a few seconds.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Staff of Oblivion is split in four parts: the Halberd of Horrendous, the Heart of Nox, the Weirdling Beast, and the Orb.
  • Drought Level of Doom:
    • Infiltrating Dun Mihr as a wizard. There are very few mana crystals available for you to recharge at and most of the ones that do exist are hidden behind breakable walls. Fortunately this is averted in Horrendous' boss room, as mentioned under Boss-Arena Idiocy, above.
    • Pretty much everything from the Dismal Swamp onwards - not because there's few health or magic powerups, no, those are plentiful. Rather, it's the supply of shops (and therefore the ability to repair your weapons and armor) that is in short supply. Luckily by this time you have enough parts of the Staff of Oblivion to at least have a decent weapon that won't fall apart, but good luck keeping yourself armored.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Wizards get what is generally agreed on as being the best ending in the game. They're also the hardest class to play; sure they have utility but they also have pathetic health and the worst armor. Even Hecubah gets off pretty easy in this ending.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Part of the game's backstory includes a warrior named Jandor growing tired of the massive war he was a part of, and eventually refusing to kill a young girl who's the last of the Northern Mages and their "cursed blood legacy", instead handing her over to be cared for by a tribe of ogres. The girl's name: Hecubah.
  • Fartillery: Trolls fart for a while after death, surrounding their bodies with damaging noxious fumes for a few seconds.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Partially averted. The Warrior and Wizard classes fit their molds pretty well, but the Conjurer is sort of a hybrid of both, and with the ability to wield bows and charm certain monsters, plays more like a ranger with some magic abilities.
  • Final Dungeon Preview: The final level of all three storylines is set in the local equivalent of Hell — however, the Wizard storyline sees you going there quite a bit earlier, when the Big Bad Hecubah banishes you to it after killing your master, so you have to escape before you can return to your quest.
  • Fireballs: Many. There's the Fireball spell itself, a high-level spell used by wizards and some enemies. There's also Missiles of Magic, a spells that creates multiple small fireballs, the Meteor spell, which is essentially a Fireball from above, and the Sulphurous Flare Staff, a weapon which fires small fiery bolts.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: If a zombie is killed by a non-fiery weapon/spell, the only way to prevent it from resurrecting a few seconds later is to immediately hit its corpse with a fire spell (even the weakest one will do).
  • Fuuma Shuriken: Shurikens are the main ranged weapons used by warriors and, oddly enough, Ogre Lords.
  • Game-Over Man: Though she doesn't show up on screen, Hecubah is there when you die for the first time in a chapter to gloat about how there's nothing standing between her and complete domination of Nox.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The wizard's ending, wherein Jack defeats Hecubah by reflecting her own spells back at her, is also the easiest way to defeat her as that class. Just cast Reflecting Wall and let her get hit with her own Death Ray for a near-instant kill.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: The final fight with Hecubah, if Jack is a warrior, has the player running around the Underworld, trying to find her and zap her with the Staff of Oblivion before she teleports away again.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Downplayed, but the Dismal Swamp starts out as, well, a swamp, but eventually turns into a frozen wasteland until you get to entrance to the Land Of The Dead.
  • Heart of the Matter: The Heart of Nox is a part of the Oblivion Staff that is a source of effectively infinite magical energy. It is kept at the top, most forbidden floor of Castle Galava's Mage Tower, whose wizards siphon off the Heart's energy to power their experiments.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Enemy hitboxes are actually defined by the point where they're standing, not by their sprite. For some enemies this is fine, but large enemies like bears it can make targeting them very odd. Wolves also have it bad despite not being that big.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Conjurer ending has Jack charm Hecubah's ogres, and then catch her in her own trap before absorbing her soul into the Orb. The Wizard ending has Jack defeat Hecubah by reflecting her own magic back at her. The only one that doesn't have something like this is the Warrior ending, which starts right after Hecubah's defeat, not actually showing it.
  • Honor Before Reason: Horrendous thinks he can defeat Hecubah by challenging her to a one-on-one duel, based on the logic that she can't refuse or lose the favor of her followers, and that without her necromancers and ogres to back her up she'll be easy to beat. Her response? She happily agrees to his terms, then Death Rays him and his elite guard.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Sorta. If you beat the game as a Wizard, Hecubah with her Necromancer traits purged becomes a redhead, just like her voice actor Joanna Cassidy.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: There are different game over screens depending on where and how you died, and Hecubah will taunt you in different ways when you die for the first time in a chapter.
  • Karmic Death: Hecubah is defeated by the man she accidentally summoned along with the Orb. But it's not necessarily death depending on which class Jack chooses.
  • Mage Killer: Lord Horrendous, who despises wizards with a passion, and his warrior followers are all trained in numerous techniques to hunt and kill wizards. The Warrior class comes with two anti-mage abilities; War Cry, which dispels all magic around you while dizzying or stunning spellcasters and Tread Lightly, which allows you to walk over Spell Trap landmines without setting them off.
  • Marathon Level: Everything from the Dismal Swamp onward is a tremendously lengthy slog with few merchants in-between (especially the Dismal Swamp itself, which just goes on and on and on even long after you've left the swamp itself).
  • Multiple Endings: Uniquely, the ending you receive is determined the moment you choose your class at the beginning of the game. They are still worth playing for, though.
    • "Bad" Ending - Conjurer: Jack catches Hecubah in her own trap and absorbs her soul into the Orb, which he gives to the Airship Captain. He asks the Captain to "take me home" as he places the Orb on top of his TV set, then suddenly the TV comes to life...
    • Normal Ending - Warrior: After killing Hecubah, the Orb opens a portal that sends Jack home to Earth, scorched but intact and carrying Hecubah's crown. His girlfriend enters and begins nagging him, but for once he doesn't care.
    • Good Ending - Wizard: Jack reflects Hecubah's magic back at her with the Orb, which somehow purifies her and erases her memory. Jack decides to stay in the other world, and it's implied he's going to make Hecubah his girlfriend.
  • Multiple Game Openings: Likewise, one for each class.
  • Mushroom Samba: You can use mushrooms as a substitute for an antidote potion, but eating them dazes you for a few seconds.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Horrendous, leader of the Fire Knights.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Lord Horrendous sounds like a really good name for a villain. It isn't this time, though, unless you're a wizard. He won't even care that you're the apprentice of his old friend.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: We have Ogre women who wield giant axes and Ogre chieftains who throw shurikens. As for the hungrier part, dying in their levels gives you a death screen of Jack getting roasted over a firepit.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: The Conjurer's Force of Nature spell fires a green ball that deals 300 damage (which is a One-Hit Kill for anything but mechanical golems and bosses) but travels very slowly.
  • Railroading: Dungeons can be very sprawling with lots of pathways and secret passages to treasure, but the game as a whole is extremely linear, simply pushing you from one dungeon to another with little chance to explore other areas or even backtrack, and very few sidequests.
  • Regenerating Mana: Mana crystals are stationary glowing pillars that quickly restore your mana if you stand nearby.
  • Save the Villain: Averted on the Warrior and Conjurer routes, which both ends with Jack killing Hecubah. On the Wizard route, however, he is able to spare her life by instead using his magic to expel the evil from her soul, turning her into an innocent and amnesiac version of herself.
  • Shop Fodder: When killed, enemies always drop their equipment, which, depending on your chosen class, might often have no uses for you other than being sold for money (though inventory space limits keep you from hauling too much).
  • Spell Crafting: Wizards and conjurers can create custom traps (stationary ones for the former, living summons for the latter) with up to three spell effects that they already know. Once a trap is triggered by a enemy's proximity, all three spells are unleashed at once. On the downside, creating a trap requires enough mana to power all three spells, which is expended at once, without a chance to regenerate. If you don't have that much, you can't create that trap.
  • Sucking-In Lines: Some spells do this while powering up, such as Force of Nature.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: Subverted, as it is the villainess who accidentally summons The Hero, eventually leading to her Karmic Death. Again, it's not always death depending on the character class picked.
  • Trapped in Another World: Jack is, and he only (surely) returns home in the warrior ending.
  • The Unfought: Since the warriors and wizards in Nox are mortal enemies Jack has to fight his way in when he goes to get the other side's piece of the Staff of Oblivion, but while wizard Jack has to fight and kill Horrendous, warrior Jack never even so much as says "hi" to the wizards' leader, Horvath. Instead the boss of the Tower of Illusion is a couple of generic (if very powerful) regular mages.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Necromancer is this for any class. He has 200 hp (a lot more than anything you've fought prior), can turn invisible (although the warrior has an ability by this point that lets him see invisible creatures.) and casts some powerful spells, including some fireballs which will kind of home in on you, but can be dodged by ducking behind something. You later face more necromancers as Degraded Bosses, including 3 at once in the Dismal Swamp, and even at the max level of 10, they still are far from pushovers.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The fully empowered Staff Of Oblivion. It does about 300 damage per second and always hits as long as you are facing in towards the target(s). Right after you get it Hecubah shows up with a veritable army of Mooks which you can still wipe out singlehandedly. The only downside to the staff is it can run out of mana, and the area helpfully has a bunch of mana crystals. Against Hecubah in the Final Boss fight, it's not quite the "I win" weapon it is against mooks, but is still the best thing to use on her (unloading it on her when it's fully charged does around 250 damage.
  • Warrior vs. Sorcerer: There is an undeclared war between the Fire Knights of Dun Mir (warriors) and the wizards of Castle Galava (sorcerers), with both factions attacking each other on sight, even though it is unclear why they are actually fighting. If the player chooses to play as the Warrior or the Wizard class, they will have to fight their way through their respective enemies' headquarters and kill their leader (while the Conjurer class remains neutral and receives help from both leaders instead).
  • Welcome to Corneria: Townspeople have only a few lines they can say.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: As a Warrior, Jack will get the opportunity to play Scorpion with the Harpoon.