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SummaryA true interactive story, not just a colourful game
The GoodHaving played through this game a few times, it's become a real standout, not for the unique graphics, but for the story, which is unlike any other game story I've seen. So the future is set in stone and you sort of have to play along. Part of your character, the dark haired Sigmund's fate is death in battle so you actually have to die to get to the next stage, where you resume the game as Sigmund's blonde haired son, Siegfried (the game of course uses characters and tales from Norse mythology). So the game presents the idea that death is not necessarily failure, while of course death IS failure in the vast majority of games.
The game's story, continued at the beginning of each stage, is brief, but very well written, with twists and turns and contains some interesting morals, different from the norm. There is one twist in particular where your hero character is exposed as not quite so heroic after all. The last stage of the story, printed after you complete the game, has an interesting message about the natural balance between things and traits a hero needs to be an instrument of law and justice. It's not really like Ultima IV, which came after this game, and its quest for avatarhood, more like a "quest for balance".
Ok so the gameplay is a factor too, the story alone doesn't make the game great. The graphics and gameplay are simple, but all that's really required I think. Playing in standard mode, the game isn't frustratingly difficult. There are some challenging puzzles where you have to sort of act out the game's story and defeating Fafner the dragon is tough, but these things help distinguish the game and make it better than average.
The BadWell I'll complain that in advanced mode, the game becomes near impossible, with so many ghosts coming through the walls at you. Other than that, just about everything is acceptable. I can't really think of anything I'd want to change.
The Bottom LineWell the graphics have the simplicity of RPG games of the time, but of course it's real-time, arcade action. But I think the story is what makes this game great and I think RPGs of then were a bit of a case of, you write or imagine your own story for the game. The game is very much an early, quite primitive, interactive story, but one that works.
If you wish to see my complete playthrough of the game, search for icon quest andrewzealand on Youtube.