Voyage to Farland: a guide to not dying
Voyage to Farland is a “console” roguelike game in the lineage of Japanese Mystery Dungeon video games. This means it takes the replayability of the classic ASCII game, Rogue, but adds animated graphics, a soundtrack, and a set of controls pared down to be easily remembered.
It’s also a very hard video game, and that’s where this guide comes in. If you play Voyage to Farland like you’d play a beat-em-up or hack-n-slash game, you will fail often and ignominiously. However, if you read through this guide, you’ll gradually become more skillful at the game and eventually clear all the dungeons and collect all of the achievements.
Rather than serve as an exhaustive guide or walkthrough, this “guide to not dying” is meant to give you a leg up - enough inside information about the game’s mechanics that may otherwise take weeks of failed attempts to learn. After reading, you should be well on your way to challenging the deeper floors of the starter Iya Gorge dungeon and unlocking the bonus dungeons. In those bonus dungeons, even more challenges will confront you, including one in which the identities of beads, scrolls, herbs and pouches are hidden behind new randomized names, forcing you to try them out first to identify their purpose.
Basic Intro to the Game World
In Voyage to Farland, you’re a lone wanderer fighting your way through randomized dungeon floors with turn-based gameplay. You’ll encounter monsters who will do their best to end your adventure quickly. You’ll find magical items including pouches, scrolls and beads. There’ll be food to gather along the way and medicinal herbs to collect. You’ll also find shields and weapons left behind that you can equip to better fight off the hordes of monsters.
The monsters don’t just punch you either - some have very dangerous special attacks or abilities. The first Viperbeetle you encounter will likely teach you that, but when you find your first Vial you can get your revenge.
There will also be friendly people and creatures you’ll meet on your adventure. Some will want to trade with you or just have a chat, perhaps offering a few words of advice. You may even meet some characters that will join you on the adventure and fight alongside you!
What NOT to do!
One mistake that players often make is to dive headfirst into every battle the game presents you. Sometimes you’ll succeed, but more often than not, you’ll be quickly vanquished.
Instead of this, keep strategy in mind. Why fight those three monsters at once, when you can lure them into a hallway and fight them one at a time? Why run immediately up to that new creature that entered the room, when your HP is very low and you have a bit of Wormwood on hand to heal with?
Read on for some hints and tips that will help you get farther in your adventures with Voyage to Farland.
If you’re already familiar with console style roguelike games, feel free to skip to the Tactics section below.
Roguelike play fields are based on an array of cells. Only one monster or creature (NPC or player's character) can occupy a cell at one time.
When you move in a given direction you will always move from one cell to another. Even just tapping the arrow keys quickly will move your character to the next cell - although the game will smoothly animate the movement.
The combat system is based on the eight directions a character can face: up, down, right, left, plus diagonals, up-right, down-right, up-left and down-left.
When shooting an equipped projectile (steel shot with a slingshot), you can only shoot along these eight directions. This also applies to "waving a bead" (a magic bead with special powers, like the SpaceBead or GustBead). You can get an explanation of a bead's powers in the inventory system. Tap the inventory (default=B) key, select a bead, then select "Explain" from the sub-menu.
So in the above picture, the hero can shoot or wave a magic bead at the Viperbeetle, but not at the Maskboy (creepy looking monster at lower right), since the Maskboy isn't along a diagonal.
Another important aspect of roguelikes is that movement is turn-based. You take a turn and then all of the monsters and NPCs in the dungeon take their turns moving or attacking. In the picture above, you could move directly to the right, the Maskboy will move up to you, the Viperbeetle will approach. Then in your next turn, you could try to take out the Maskboy (they're fairly weak).
Other monsters have "ranged attacks", for example the Nosferatus in the picture below are often content to stay back and zap you with the "evil eye" which has various effects, sometimes good, but usually not...
Although they are turn-based, roguelikes actually allow for a fast pace when desired and a slower pace when necessary. You can hold down the arrow keys to move quickly across a room, or stop and think things through strategically when you're surrounded by monsters. And trust me, you'll need to use some strategy to survive more than a few floors into the dungeon!
There are also magic scrolls in the game. Some scrolls affect everything (monsters and NPCs) in the same "room" as the hero. One example is the SomnaScroll which sends all creatures except the hero into a "somnambulistic state" (sleepwalking). Be careful with the SomnaScroll, since it also affects NPCs in the room and sleepwalking creatures occasionally lash out in their dreams. Happily, the PummelScroll only deals damage to all the bad monsters in a room and not NPCs that may be helping the hero.
In the above picture, note that a scroll will affect all the monsters except the Nosferatu (at the far left) since he is well outside the room. This is because a scroll will affect every monster in the room including ones standing in a "room entrance" cell, but not beyond that.
In a hallway between "rooms" a scroll will affect monsters in an adjacent cell to the hero in all 8 directions, but won't affect any monsters beyond that.
That is unless you're starving, in which case you'll gradually lose HP as you move until you can find something to eat! The game warns you when you're getting hungry and again when you begin starving, so pay close attention to the sound effects, the message window and the color of the stats at the top of the screen (they’ll turn red when you’re in trouble).
Inside dungeons, you can “Dash” across rooms or down hallways. Hold the Dash key (default=G) while moving with the arrow keys. You’ll automatically stop dashing when you come near a monster, item or hidden trap.
Dashing also serves another function in the game. When you’re standing next to an NPC or buddy character who is helping you fight, you can swap places by dashing into them.
The Training Dungeon
Voyage to Farland doesn’t force you to dive into a hellish beat-down completely unprepared. It offers you the option to do some training first. If you’re new to console roguelike games it’s a good idea to try the Training dungeon the first time you start the game. This is a short and easy dungeon that will introduce you to the controls and system by offering you advice every time you pick up a new type of item. You confirm the advice by hitting any key and can try out weapons, herbs & scrolls in a more relaxed dungeon environment.
In the game’s start menu, you’ll have the option to do Training as long as you don’t have a current game saved. The Training dungeon also has the nice benefit of allowing you to keep your loot before entering the main game.
Video illustrating a couple of basic but very useful techniques
Dealing with a "Monster Room"
Occasionally in the game, you'll stumble into a Monster Room - a room full of "resting" monsters and hidden traps, but also items! The music will turn more sinister and the monsters will wake up, but try not to panic.
What can you do? Here's one way to ALMOST escape by using a SpaceBead... (from the ancient NDS homebrew version) Other options are jumping into a WarpPouch to get the heck out of there, or reading a PummelScroll to smack down all the monsters.
But if you don't have either of those items, you'll need to be more creative. Perhaps a Vial tossed at a useful monster (Ghost, Viperbeetle, Graylady) will help - capturing the monster, drinking the Vial and using their special powers to escape. Careful use of a GustBead may get you out alive by blasting monsters away from you. Turning tail and running for a hallway is also an option. No one will blame you. Especially if you survive!
If you play roguelikes long enough, you'll learn to keep some of the above items handy (whenever possible) to deal with these "unexpected" situations. But don't take it too hard if you succumb to a monster room. It happens to the best of us!
Tips for Avoiding Starvation
The main way to fill up your stomach in Voyage to Farland is by eating a cookie, but notice that eating herbs will also fill you up a little in a pinch.
With cookies, pay close attention to how much you fill up when eating a certain type of cookie and try to only eat your next cookie of that type after your fullness drops below that amount. For example, it's best to wait until you're nearly starving to eat an oatmeal cookie in order to get the maximum benefit from it.
For travelling in some dungeons, you're allowed to bring along items, so play rock-paper-scissors with the boy in the starting village and if you win, he may give you a cookie, or at least an herb to use later for its magical powers or just to keep hunger at bay a while longer.
For the dungeons where you can't bring along items, there are tricks to getting or making cookies when you can't find any. Pay close attention to what the higher level Bumble monsters sometimes do as a special attack. Big hint: you'll end up with a cookie. We don't want to give away all of the game's secrets - part of the fun is finding these things out for yourself as you play. But for some hints about the monsters' characteristics, see the end of this guide.
All that being said, the occasional death by starvation is part of the fun(?) of roguelike games!
When facing a monster that has a ranged attack - such as the Nosferatu above - it’s never a good idea to walk straight into the line of fire. Instead, it’s better to move in an orthogonal or diagonal direction and allow the monster to come to you. Remember that monsters have the same firing restrictions as you do - they can only shoot or cast a spell in one of the 8 directions explained above in the “Combat System” section.
One notable exception is the Catapult family of monsters who are able to lob items at you no matter where you stand. The level 1 Catapult can only see you when you’re in the same room, but higher level versions have a much wider field of vision. Tether those little jerks if they come near a coveted item on the floor!
Another strategy that you’ll learn quickly is to never move toward a monster when you’re separated by one cell. That gives the monster the first shot at attacking. Instead, try moving orthogonal to it and force it to come to you. In that way, YOU will get the first chance to attack. In a tight situation, every little trick helps you survive a bit longer.
If you read the explanations for items, you can learn some tricks! Notice that a couple of the herbs in the game will do damage to "undead" monsters when thrown (Mugwort, Wormwood). Test out which monsters are undead by throwing these herbs at them while watching the message window for a high damage hit. You can probably guess some undead monsters from the start: Ghost, Nosferatu, etc.
Monsters' Special Attacks or Abilities
As you play the game, take note of all the special abilities or special attacks that certain monsters have (read the message window carefully). Keep these in mind for when you find the EmptyVial item. You can capture the monster and drink the vial later when one of those special abilities or attacks would come in handy.
Big hint: becoming a Ghost can be very useful! To use a monster’s special attack, hit the fire button (mobile) or the F key (desktop version).
Many of the traps in the game have a detrimental effect on your character when you trip them, whether making you somnambulistic, tethered, etc. Never fear - these effects only last for a few turns, but you WILL have to be careful until they wear off.
One tricky thing to keep in mind about the TetherTrap in particular is that trying to move with the arrow keys while "tethered" will use up a turn which is very dangerous if there are monsters nearby.
But it’s possible to change direction and better attack while tethered without using a turn. To do this, hold the "Rotate" key (default=R) then tap a direction with the arrow keys and you can face an enemy without wasting a turn!
Another tip about traps is that they are hidden until you uncover them by either stepping on them or swinging your weapon/fist at an empty space on the ground.
You’ll find lots of magic beads in the game and you should make full use of them. When you wave a bead at a monster, it casts a spell that can tether or blast the monster back and many more fun effects.
But note that beads have a limited number of “charges”. When a bead's charges reach 0, waving it at a monster will have no effect. However, there IS another way to make one last use of it! Hint: select it in the inventory menu and look at the sub-menu choices carefully.
One type of magic item in the game is the "pouch". You can insert items (and sometimes creatures!) and the pouch has a certain effect. With the StoragePouch, you can insert and remove items freely. You can also use an item (bead, herb, etc.) directly from within the pouch without first removing it!
With other more mysterious pouches (ChangePouch, MeldPouch, etc.) you can insert items, but it's a bit trickier to get them back out. You have to throw the pouch at a wall or creature to tear it open (unfortunately destroying the pouch in the process) in order to get the new items it contained. Generally, throwing against a wall or tree is safe - you can test beforehand by shooting steel shot at it. But there ARE a few dungeon floors where thrown objects fly off into "space": i.e. the first couple of floors in "The Path of No Return". So be careful!
You can see a player using these techniques in the videos here:
using a MeldPouch (from the mobile version)
But a much more powerful use of the MeldPouch is to combine weapons or shields. A +1 TitanShield combined with a +2 WoodenShield will give you a +3 TitanShield, which is quite powerful. But be careful - the order you put things into the MeldPouch matters!
As the pictures below show, putting the weaker shield in first will cause any subsequent shields to give their + values to that first inserted shield. A WoodenShield has a base defense power of only 3 - you can check shield and weapon strengths by selecting the item from the inventory menu. The strength values will be displayed at the bottom of the weapon/shield sub-menu window, e.g. a +2 WoodenShield will show 3+2, or base defense power of 3, plus 2 for a total defense strength of 5.
If you put the WoodenShield in first:
The more powerful TitanShield's +1 gets added to the weaker WoodenShield, yielding 3 (base defense power)+2+1=6...
But putting the TitanShield in first:
The WoodenShield's +2 gets added to the TitanShield, yielding 12(TitanShield base defense power)+1+2=15! So putting the stronger shield or weapon into the MeldPouch first is much better!
The hero always has a slingshot tucked away but it’s not very useful until you find something to shoot. That’s where the Steelshot item comes in - they are steel pellets you can fire with the slingshot by hitting the Fire key (default=F). Be sure to “equip” the Steelshot first and don’t worry about your shield and main melee weapon - they’ll remain equipped.
Steelshot also has a nice trait in that it “stacks” into a single inventory slot. If you have 7 Steelshot in your inventory and come across another pack of 8 Steelshot, they’ll combine and give you 15 Steelshot while still only taking up one slot in your inventory.
Since you often can’t see far down a hallway in the dungeons, a nice trick with the Steelshot is to fire one off down the hallway to test if there are any monsters sneaking up on you. If you hit something, great! You softened the monster up for the coming battle. If you miss, no problem! You can walk safely down the hallway and pick up the shot again!
Behold, the monsters! Or at least some of them…
Thanks to Daniel Cook for the Planet Cute prototyping graphics set.
To Shroomarts for help with item sprites and the cool promo graphic art.
Finally to iJimTM for the intrepid exploration and humorous observations about the game.
Thanks for reading!
Copyright Peculiar Games & PA Casey