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Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail (DOS)

69
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Boston Low (92)
Written on  :  May 22, 2005
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars
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Summary

One of the best Sierra games ever, makes you forget it's EGA

The Good

A review I read before buying, said the game was the best production of Sierra for 1990. I realised why.

The game can stand next to each other Sierra games and be judged as superior, almost for all its aspects. It's a real, serious, epic production, encompassing many elements that will satisfy the player. There is much travelling to many places, battles, choices to be made (affecting the course of the play), and much lore.

The graphics are really exceptional compared to the main corpus of Sierra. The sprites are richly animated, and there is much interaction with them (eg. you can kiss Gwynevere before leaving). The introductory scenes are well drawn, and resemble those that will be used in the cutscenes, much later in the Sierra VGA games.

The game is really atmospherical. Not only due to the graphics (I noted some anachronisms), but mainly because of the descriptions and dialogues. The messages are not the 'narrator's speech', but Merlin who communicates with you telepathically. All descriptions are supposedly personal views and knowledge of Merlin. Some scenes contain many objects and if you examine them, you will get immersive folkloric knowledge.

Interactivity is also rich. Almost everything you will try (like the F... word to people) will give you Merlin's appropriate reply. The designers have tried to predict as much of your thoughts as possible, often surprising you.

The game design also presents some differences. Here it's not easy to overlook something needed much later. Some choices you can make (Eg. not saving Lancelot, or giving the hag money instead of the artifact she wants) will affect something much later, but they are things that you know they are wrong, made only deliberately. In cases you will overlook or lose an artifact, its use would be only to make your life easier. The point where you will need it, you can also pass by trial and error

The soundtrack is one of the first I loved in games. I remember myself recording medieval melodies in my tape recorder!! So atmospheric that will put you in the position you should be. Medieval Britain, or the oriental Jerusalem, themusic is what you want to hear to put you in Arthur's shoes.

Last but not least, the package of the game is also one of the best I have seen. The box is beautifully drawn. It contains an also beautiful map of Europe (I am not not to decide it's historical accuracy), and an also beautiful manual, book of lore with information both educative, and useful (copy protection is based on it).

The Bad

People seem to dislike only one thing in this game: The riddles. Indeed the creator is overconcerned about piracy. Not only she gives a moral lecture on it in the manual, but there are also 3 points in the game where you will need to consult your manual for folk lore. Personally, after I grew up, I could solve them without help, because of my personal knowledge but the problem exists.

There is also a point where you must solve 'guess what' riddles, not with knowledge of the manual. This is indeed a hard part, and sometimes even today I get stuck. However you can exit and re-enter the screen to try for an easier random set of riddles.

There was another thing I didn't like. The game is called Conquests of Camelot. Not only Camelot is seen only in the start, but the game has nothing to do with the conquests, the reign, the history, enemies or victories of Camelot. After a point the game changes feel and atmosphere, and you forget the Arthurian concept altogether and start learning lore and explore catacombs. The game for the most part is not more Arthurian than any other medieval game is. It could be called 'Medieval Indiana Jones' and still be credible.

Well, a tiny part that I didn't like are some historical inaccuracies. AFAIK the labarum was never a symbol of Mithras.

The Bottom Line

This game is an ideal travel to the middle-ages, a taste of the spirit and folklore of those times, when the old and new world coexisted. Just 'look at' everything you see.. Travel many places, battle with foes, read about legends of medieval england, and you will experience a rich, full and satisfying adventure.