It is a bit hard to talk about Baldur’s Gate without also discussing its sequel. The first game has an ending, but it is unsatisfactory: near the end, the player learns that the main character is part of something far more significant than his current affairs. That matter won’t be resolved until the second game, or possibly the “Throne of Bhaal” expansion (for all I know), so it is futile to try for a close-ended discussion of the first game’s plot.
I could say that the plot follows a natural progression, at least assuming the MC is motivated by heroism and adventure, neither of which is actually a given for him, but is presumably a given for the player of the game. I can even say that the self-contained story ends… okay. However, there really is no conclusion. The villain is defeated, and then… roll credits. There is a brief cutscene, but it serves only to tantalize the player for the next game. Thus, it’s hard to speak much about the plot.
Same goes for many of the other aspects. Baldur’s Gate is really only the first part of a much larger game. It feels like trying to discuss the first disc of Xenogears without reference to the second, or Arc the Lad without having also played Arc the Lad II. There’s so much of the same game left to be played, even if some things might change, and thus the scope of the game cannot be fully appreciated.
What can I say so far? I like what I see. Combat is challenging: wading through dungeons without saving each room means losing minutes, or even hours, of gameplay, on a trap, puzzle, or surprise encounter. This game is unforgiving of error, practically expecting the player to reload. Even one of the advisory “while loading” statements is “be sure to quick save often”.
the cast of characters which can join in the first game is certainly colorful. Their banter is amusing. The only drawback is that they do not DO much in the first game: really, once they join you, most characters thereafter shut up and just follow along like mules. Yes, there are some exceptions: cases where characters have their own things, or areas in which they have a special impact, but these are few and far between.
The music is atmospheric, although a bit oppressive at times. I actually find the battle music to be a touch distracting, and wish it would stick with the ambiance music instead. The battle music ironically draws me out of the game.
Perhaps I will get into more specific thoughts on the first game later, or I might hold off on the bulk of them until I am further through the second game. Not my usual style, but this is also not my usual kind of RPG.