Betrayal at Krondor (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Chris Wright (105)
Written on  :  Aug 03, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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A superb fantasy yarn spun in the modestly-magical world of Midkemia

The Good

Betrayal at Krondor was released in the summer of 1993, as VGA graphics were being pushed to their 2D, hand-drawn, sprite-intensive limit. This was also six months before id unleashed DOOM upon the world, beginning the push towards nearly every major game being produced in a 3D engine. As such, there is much in the way of imagination, storytelling, and overall artistry that I find most of today's big-budget, industrially-manufactured games to be lacking.

Perhaps the finest aspect of Krondor is that you can travel across the vast continent of Midkemia at almost all points in the storyline, doing as you please. Mostly, this entails traversing up and down mountainous valleys, searching out treasure caches (and attempting to open them, a joy onto itself thanks to half of them being protected by Moredhel wordlocks), battling dark elves, trolls, Brak-nur (rock-men), drakes, undead, and plenty of other sinister creatures. Then you can walk into one of the smaller towns and rest up at the local inn, play a tune for the local patrons (and get paid if you do a good enough job), sell any surplus equipment you've accumulated, have your armor repaired, and possibly take part in some other shenanigan (gambling, questing, solving mysteries, improving your combat or tradeskill abilities, and so on).

When you enter one of the major cities you are greeted with a wonderful hand-painted vista of the city and its environs, as a unique musical compositions sets the mood. This really helps create a sense of otherworldliness that allows you to sink easily into a magical fantasy mire. Great, great stuff -- just be sure you keep a window open so the odd breeze can remind you there's another world outside your house -- if you're interested in such trifling affairs.

The Bad

The graphics look dated in 2008 and were somewhat pixelated even when it was released in 1993.

When you've learned everything about the game that will give you an advantage over the armies of darkness, there isn't a whole lot of challenge inherent in the game. Combat is turn based, you can cheat in various ways (I will resist explaining here), and the storytelling is of high quality but not quite Lord of the Rings calibre.

The Bottom Line

A wonderfully deep and detailed adventure tale set in the charming medieval world of Midkemia. I'd count it among the four finest RPGs released so far, along with Ultima VII: The Black Gate, Baldur's Gate, and Final Fantasy IV.