Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero (DOS)

80
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Cor 13 (173954)
Written on  :  Dec 27, 2004
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars

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Summary

Heroic Hybrid

The Good

It looks like an adventure, it feels like an adventure, and to a certain extent it also plays like an adventure - but there is more. Created by Lori Ann Cole and her husband, Quest for Glory was conceived at a time when Sierra had supreme dominance in the genre. Its several "quest" series were flourishing, and the company was at one of the peaks of its creative power. The designers took everything that made Sierra adventures work and expanded it by masterfully injecting the familiar formula with delightfully fulfilling light role-playing elements.

Even as a pure adventure, the game would still work. The high interactivity level allows performing any action on any available object, and more often than not you'll get an interesting or funny remark. Try taking women, talking to walls, pushing houses. Those were the days: you weren't restricted to a stupid cursor that figured out all the actions for you, and the interactivity wasn't limited to a couple of carefully highlighted objects sticking out of the backgrounds. The puzzles are not too taxing, but there are a few tricky tasks that require actual thinking on your part - not in the least because the RPG element adds another layer to puzzle-solving.

Indeed, Quest for Glory treats role-playing in its own original way, strengthening and deepening pure adventure gameplay. There is no excessive dungeon crawling, frustrating unbeatable enemies, overdoses of mechanical repetition, or high mathematical equations to solve in order to build the optimal party. The adventure core remains intact - you are acting solo, and individually designed locations with developed characters have precedence. And yet, RPG traits are an inseparable part of the game's structure, brilliantly integrated into adventuring gameplay.

There is a standard choice of classes in the beginning: Fighter, Thief, or Mage. Unlike most pure RPGs, where these choices may greatly affect combat but leave the actual game progression intact, in Quest for Glory those classes are treated as yet another variable pertaining to the solution of the game. In other words, many tasks and events will be quite different depending on the class you choose. The puzzles will offer alternate solutions, you'll have to meet other people, visit other locations, pick other items, etc. Not to mention the standard class gameplay differences that are also quite fun - spend the game as a brute who knows nothing but wielding a sword, as a cunning, stealthy lock-picking fellow, or as a powerful magician that unleashes his wrath on innocent goblins and ogres.

The RPG system is an example of greatness disguised as simplicity: your hero has attributes mixed with skills, such as strength, stamina, throwing, climbing, honor, etc. This pretty much sums it up - and it's extremely fun and rewarding to increase those stats and make your hero to what you want him to be. Everything you do in the game world affects your skills. Practice tree-climbing and you'll see that in the end of the game you'll be able to climb over a wall. Work out a lot and tackle obstacles the most direct way if you are tired of thinking. No need to wait for levels and count experience points - there you are, you are doing something, and effects are immediate: practice makes perfect. Meet a robber and throw a stone at him - if you are good at throwing, you'll nail him down, if not... maybe there is another way? This is the kind of role-playing you'll enjoy in this game.

The combat is simple and effective. Attack and parry - this is all you need to know, if you are a fighter. As a mage, there is of course a variety of spells to cast on your foes. The more you use a certain type of magic, the better magician you become; the more you fight, the stronger you get; the more you get hurt, the higher is your stamina, etc. Combat doesn't depend only on your manual dexterity. A weak fighter cannot handle the ogre who protects the way to his cave. You'll have to train or fight more in order to be able to defeat that brute. Or look for sneakier solutions as a thief if that is your preferred style of playing.

The world of Quest for Glory is lively and atmospheric. There is a day and night cycle and internal clock, like in Ultima games. You'll make appointments, and they will actually mean something - you'll have to check out the game's time and be not only in the right place, but also at the right moment. You feel how Spielburg really lives its life, how things change depending on the time of the day. The surrounding forest is reasonably large but not maze-like, with interesting places to discover - and there is little that restricts your exploration.

And of course, there is plenty of Sierra's typically mild and sweet humor. There is a little bit of everything - silly or sophisticated puns, ironic attitude to the main character ("overworked, underpaid, no direction in life", according to the hero himself), hilarious death scenes, cameo appearances and references to other games ("I want to be a pirate!"), and so on. The characters are talkative and appealing. There is a lot of dialogue in the game, a lot of stuff to ask about, things to buy, enemies to encounter, quests to take, etc.

In the early 90-ies, Sierra published a series of remakes of their classic "quest" titles featured wonderful hand-drawn 256-color VGA graphics and a comfortable icon-based interface (instead of the old text input). This is one of those updated versions. Gone are the 16-color world and the tiresome text interface. The necessity of an updated interface is more evident here than in other Sierra remakes. Quest for Glory has an extended dialogue system: you must talk to people you encounter about various topics in order to gain important information. In the original, you had to think of and type the conversation topics all by yourself. That was interesting, yet at times frustrating. In the remake the conversations topics are all presented in a nice dialogue menu. And of course, manipulating action icons and clicking on stuff is much more comfortable than typing commands.

The graphics also got a tremendous boost in the remake. Quest for Glory undeniably belongs to the most beautiful games of early nineties. The characters and the backgrounds, with their claymation-like look, are simply fabulous. The magical atmosphere of a fairy-tale world envelops the player completely (check out, for example, Erana's Peace location, or the road to the castle). The graphics haven't lost their appeal, and don't seem outdated to this day.

The Bad

The ever-present "Sierra Dead End Syndrome" (TM) is still here. You do something that doesn't lead to an immediate death, peacefully continue the game, and later (sometimes much later) discover, to your horror, that the damage you have done is irreversible and you must restore a saved file from earlier (sometimes much earlier). That happened to me, for example, with the reagent lady, from whom I carelessly stole something and who caught me while I was doing the evil deed. Later, she wouldn't give me a plot item without which it was impossible to finish the game. Of course it is good that the game punishes needless stealing from innocent ladies, but I wish the punishment would come sooner.

Quest for Glory is a bit too short. You can fool around with things and there is room for exploration; but once you are set to go through the tasks that take you to the end of the game, you'll discover there isn't a whole lot required from you. There are several characters you can meet and chat with, but few are truly memorable. Later installments of the series would have more elaborate plots and feature more interesting characters - but we mustn't forget that the foundation stone was laid here.

The VGA remake, like many of its contemporaries, has a few bugs and very annoying game-breaking speed issues that can sometimes only be resolved by disabling internal cache in your computer's BIOS - or playing the game on a machine of roughly the same speed it was programmed for when it first came out.

The Bottom Line

Quest for Glory gives us everything there is to love in Sierra adventures: generous interactivity, well-written text, reasonable challenge, and endearing humor. On top of that, it adds an elegantly designed light role-playing system graciously complementing and enhancing pure adventure gameplay like never before or after. Savor it and its sequels, because games like this are not being made anymore.