Back in 2002, I was one of what I felt the few people who knew about the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. A magical game that imprisoned you on an island while letting you freely roam about, talk with people, rob them and generally explore the world. It is perhaps what Australia originally was. I spent years and hundreds of hours in the game, crafting my own game world made up from mods.
Then in 2006 the mind blowing follow up came out. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It took the existing formula, but added more details. Things like traps, objects that could bash into characters, floor spikes and even darts coming out of walls. It also brought me to a hellish place full of lava. It was a beautiful new playground that became the only game I played for two full years. You begin the game in prison, until circumstances force you to pair up with the Emperor as you flee the castle through underground tunnels.
Meanwhile, unbekownst to me, there was a game called Enclave that came out in 2002. I know I had seen the box cover dozens if not hundreds of times. I just had no idea what it was, nor did I look it up to find out. It had a stone grey skull on the cover and I just thought that meant it was a first person shooter. Well as it turns out, i was wrong in a way. It is a first person hack and slash, unless you play as a druid, wizard or archer, then it is a first person magical shooter.
I was randomly given Enclave this past week. I had no idea what it was, nor did I look it up. After 12 years, I had forgotten that I ever knew about Enclave. I started playing the X-Box gem and the best way I can describe it is the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in Quake’s engine. It doesn’t really use Quake’s engine. Supposedly its a proprietary engine that’s been in development since 1997 and Enclave was released in 2002, 4 years ahead of Oblivion. Enclave itself has nothing to do with Oblivion’s role playing elements. There are no dialog trees, no leveling up, just buying loot.
The story is the same though, you are a mystical hero, broken out of prison in a kingdom’s dire time of need. Its a role playing story that’s been done before I’m sure. Then you go through various levels, a few of which are covered with lava streams and dirty grey environments. It is a beautiful game and can give Oblivion a run for its money even if came out four years prior and doesn’t have beautiful, never ending patches of grass. It is certainly superior to Morrowind.
If I’m failing to connect bridges of how one inspired the other, Enclave is full of traps. Falling rock traps, objects swinging, floor tiles that send darts and even pushable barrels. Enclave also has regenerating magic which was only present with enchanted items in Morrowind, but became a normal part of the game in Oblivion. There is even what looks like the Daedric language scattered on unholy relics. The color pallet of the lava levels are so reminiscent of Oblivion. Black metal cages punctuated by red gems.
It all feels so very Oblivion, but wrapped up in easy bite sized levels that don’t overstay their welcome. Since both games are first person hack and slashes that allow for first or third person views, I’m just left thinking that one lead to the other. Perhaps Oblivion would have always taken from old role playing tropes.
No matter what inspired Oblivion, all three games are a joy to play.