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SummaryAn adventure game in RPG clothing
The GoodThis is another of Origin's light/introductory RPG's aimed at people who would be overwhelmed by the likes of Ultima. The interface for the game is somewhat unusual and uses 3 windows. The top right shows a tile based world map, in the same manner as earlier Origin RPG's. The top left window shows what your character is seeing. This is usually a static picture although in dungeons it is a first person view in the manner of Dungeon Master. Character portraits and the like also appear here. The bottom window is for the games interface, where conversation options will appear and you have all the various icons.
You play as an apprentice wizard who has just had his spell-book wiped. The game is split into 3 more or less independent quests each on their own floppy disk each of which advances you a wizarding rank. You can play through one of these in a few hours or so and they are probably about the right size for the audience the game is aimed at. The world maps are very small for an RPG but they are packed full of people and places so there is plenty to do.
You are never punished for getting something wrong in this game. If you die you are resurrected at the entrance to the world with your party healed also. The game is possibly a little too generous here as if you lose a party member it is far better to get killed off and get them resurrected for free, rather than having to pay for it. There is also no concept of food/time so you can sleep and heal after every battle if you like.
There are a huge range of spells that you must learn throughout the game. The staple spells you will use are Light and Heal spells with the occasional use of some of the others to solve puzzles.
You can pretty much control the whole game with a mouse, although a combination of keyboard/mouse works best. The icon based interface works well although it does seem to use an unreasonably large amount of the screen.
There are a huge number of odd characters to meet and talk to throughout the game. The dialog is always entertaining and reasonably well written.
The BadFor a game intended to introduce people to RPG's, I don't think it really achieves this. There are stats, combat, money and experience but they are mostly hidden away from the player. The game plays much more like an adventure game as there are numerous puzzles where objects have to be used or given to people. Even the combat in the game pretty much comes down to whether you have managed to recruit enough party members. Finishing the game boils down to solving all the various puzzles and combat/experience doesn't really come into it. I've always been into adventure games so I quite liked this style of gameplay, but you shouldn't go into this game expecting an RPG.
The options in combat are limited to attack or cast a spell and you only control your own character. Again this limits the feeling that this is a role playing game and I usually would just click attack.
Technically, the game isn't all that impressive for 1989. Sierra were putting out the likes of Quest For Glory 1/Hero's Quest at the same time with better graphics, better game-play and a full MT-32 score. This game doesn't have any soundtrack at all and the graphics (especially the tile graphics for the world map) look quite dated.
Some of the puzzle solutions are pretty bizarre, i.e. dropping an apple on someone to sober them up. If you have the correct party members, they tend to tell you the solution at the time so it gets around this but I would still prefer things to make sense.