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The Legend of Kyrandia (DOS)

73
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Nowhere Girl (1416)
Written on  :  Mar 05, 2012
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Summary

If you like fairytale-like adventures, you'll probably love this

The Good

A thing I have to say - because it has much influence on my opinions about this game - is that I played it AFTER I played the sequel. And I mean much later: I discovered "Hand of Fate" in the 90s, when it was about two years old, but I first played "Legend of Kyrandia 1" in 2004. So I can't help comparing these two games - and while clearly being connected, they are very different.
First, this game is much harder than its successor. Which is, of course, not a bad thing if you're looking for challenges. If you don't know you're supposed to find five stones, a coin and a key in the (in)famous cave labyrinth and you're not using some external help - a walkthrough, let's say ;) - you could spend hours just trying to solve this single part. Fortunately, it's probably THE most difficult part of the whole game.
However, apart from the caves, this game generally does have something maze-like. There are a few types of "Dark Forest" screens repeating themselves - they are beautiful anyway, but still give you the feeling it's something that could have been done better - but they also have an advantage: they make finding your way harder. In "Hand of Fate" no screens repeat themselves, even on the most monotonous Volcania "level", it's always quite easy to know where you're going. In "Legend of Kyrandia 1" it's easy to lose a sense of direction.
The mood is also different: much darker and more mysterious. Which is not to say the game doesn't have elements of humor (check out the dialog between Brandon, Darm the Royal Mystic and his pet dragon Brandywine, especially the fragment about why Brandywine eats cats and not knights), but the game is not as witty. I enjoyed this - I hate true horror films/games/stories, but I like that kind of fairytale spookiness you can see in this game.
"Legend of Kyrandia" is also an interesting example of an extremely simple and yet completely functional interface. You just use the cursor for everything: looking, moving, using objects - and it works! What Sierra games accomplished with the usual "walk/talk/look/use" interface, this game does with just a cursor. It if, of course, possible thanks to making the inventory visible all the time, but the most important thing is that it works perfectly well and is very intuitive, unlike all the comments in some very sophisticated adventure games.

The Bad

Again, compared to "Hand of Fate": something I loved about that game were the usually funny comments Zanthia made when you click on her - two per screen. Unfortunately, it's not the case in "Legend of Kyrandia 1": Brandon also makes some comments to himself, but they repeat themselves in various places - there are about 5 pairs of comments in the whole game.
In "Hand of Fate", if you can read a dialog line quicker than it changes by itself, you can speed up the dialog by clicking. Again, this small technical detail is unfortunately absent in the first game of the series - you have to wait until the line changes, which may be helpful for people who don't speak English well, but is really tiresome for quick readers. On the other hand, if you enjoy munching on some sweets while playing, you even have a free hand for a cup of tea while reading what the characters have to say. ;)

The Bottom Line

"Legend of Kyrandia" is a beautiful game which deserves to be a classic as much as Sierra games. Lush graphics, an interesting and captivating story, music enhancing the mood - it's all there. The game's downsides are minor enough to ignore. If you like adventure games with a fairytale-like mood, you'll probably enjoy this one very much. The game may be too scary for the youngest players, but is great for older children and adult children.