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

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (171551)
Written on  :  Dec 27, 2004
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars4.83 Stars

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The glory belongs to the creators of this masterpiece

The Good

In the early 90-ies, Sierra published a series of remakes of their classic "quest" titles - Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and others. Those remakes (except the King's Quest one) maintained the story and the puzzles of the originals, but featured wonderful hand-drawn 256-color VGA graphics and a comfortable icon-based interface (instead of the old text input).

"Quest for Glory I" is one of those remakes. 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 I" 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). Among all the graphical styles video games were made in, my two favorites are pre-rendered stuff from mid-nineties and early VGA graphics. Today, more than twelve years after the release of the game, the graphics haven't lost their appeal, and don't seem outdated.

Now, behind this nice new interface and wonderful graphics there is the same game that opened the great series three years before. It looks like an adventure, it feels like an adventure, and in a certain extent it also plays like an adventure - but it is much more than just another fairy tale "quest". By the way, 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 a funny remark. Try taking women, talking to walls, pushing houses. Those were the days... you weren't restricted to a stupid cursor that makes all the actions for you, and the interactivity wasn't limited to a couple of carefully highlighted objects sticking out of the backgrounds.

But then there is the RPG part. No boring dungeon crawling, frustrating combat, signpost NPCs - hey, after all, this is a Sierra adventure! Yet at the same time, it is undeniably a RPG, and a great one at that. Instead of standard monster-hacking and tedious leveling system, those guys created an elegant, flexible system that satisfies the greed of a role-player more than any other. First, you have three character classes. Not a big deal, you think? Well, unlike in m any other games, where character class influences combat options and nothing more, here you'll literally play a different game if you start with a different character! The puzzles will be different, you'll have to meet other people, visit other locations, pick other items... how's that for replay value? 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 stats mixed with skills, like strength, stamina, throwing, climbing, honor, etc. This pretty much sums the role-playing you have in the game. But you can't even imagine how fun and rewarding it is to increase those stats and to make your hero to what you want him to be. Everything you do in the game world influences 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. Pick a stone and repeatedly throw it - your throwing skill will raise immediately. No need to wait for stupid "levels" and count experience points - there you are, you are doing something, and it immediately takes effect! Result? Meet a robber later in the game 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, ladies and gentlemen, what role-playing is about!

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 magic, the better magician you become; the more you fight, the stronger you get; the more you get hurt, the higher is your stamina... simple, addictive, and, most importantly, fun. 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 to fight in order to be able to defeat this brute.

The world of "Quest for Glory I" is immersive not only because of the graphics. There is a day/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 at 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.

And of course, there is plenty of Sierra's typically mild and sweet humor. There is a little bit for everything - sophisticated word-plays, ironic attitude to the main character ("Overworked, underpaid, no direction in life"), hilarious death scenes, cameo appearances and references to other games ("I want to be a pirate!"... Gee, where's that from?..), and so on. The characters are talkative and appealing - no comparison to the NPCs populating most RPGs, rather more similar to characters from an adventure game. There is a lot of dialogue in the game, a lot of stuff to ask about, stuff to buy, enemies to encounter, quests to take... in short - this is it, the legendary adventure/RPG hybrid by Sierra!

The Bad

Let me think... Okay, there is the ever-present "Sierra Dead End Syndrome" (TM). You do something that doesn't lead to an immediate death, peacefully continue on with 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 is, if you still kept some saved files from those days and didn't use all the available slots (granted, there are many of them) as an insurance against the countless deaths and other traps... That happened to me for example with the reagent lady, from whom I carelessly stole something, and who caught me while I was doing to 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 earlier... luckily, I felt the quarrel with the reagent lady would eventually lead to a dead end, and immediately restored the game. It's really not as bad as it sounds, the dead ends are not that numerous and can be easily avoided, but I just don't like dead ends... and who does?

Other than that... well, the plot is kinda simple and there are only few events and not much character development. All the sequels have better stories. But hey, this was just the beginning...

The Bottom Line

A fantastic remake of one of the most successful genre-merging experiments ever. Totally cool gameplay that combines classic adventuring and elegant role-playing, backed by Sierra's typical humor, excellent writing, and - particularly in this remake - gorgeous visuals, this is one of those legendary cult titles that simply must be played by any self-respecting gamer.