Written by  :  Pix (1205)
Written on  :  Jul 14, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars3.17 Stars

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Plays more like Gauntlet than an RPG

The Good

This was Chris Roberts first game for Origin. He would later go on to create Wing Commander but he was obviously a talented programmer at this stage judging by the game engine here. Graphically, this isn't really comparable to the Ultima games that had gone before it. The world looks far, far more detailed and also uses an isometric tile-set to give some height to the buildings. When you walk through a door, the roof pops off a building and you see the interior. Everything also scrolls smoothly instead of the jumping a tile at a time approach we had seen before. The entire game takes place on the one world map except for a couple of underground dungeons late into the game. The conversation system remembers which keywords you have heard and you can then select them off a list. The later Ultima's clearly got ideas from this game.

The interface has been simplified hugely from every other Origin RPG to date. Whereas all the previous games seemed to want to have a separate function for every key on the keyboard this uses an icon driven interface, with just to 8 icons to control everything.

This was the first Origin game to support sound-cards on the PC, although the MT-32 is missed out in favour of adlib, CMS and tandy.

The Bad

The plot of the game is really poor and unoriginal. The game is little more than a series of 10-15 quests most of which don't really have a lot to offer towards advancing the story. The quests are the usual find/kill something/someone and are all very straightforward apart from the last couple which involve navigating through dungeons. They lead up to a completely obvious ending after you slay the bad guy who hasn't actually done anything to you at any point in the game. There are not that many NPC's who really have much to say and there is very very little conversation in the game. What there is is nearly all quest related and the people dishing out quests seem to delight in sending you to the opposite side of the map and back again every time.

There are no stats visible in the game and there is no way of increasing them if they exist anyway. As far as I'm concerned no stats mean this isn't an RPG, but more of an action adventure.

The amount of combat in the game is ludicrous. Its thankfully very quick with most monsters only needing a couple of hits to take them out, but by the time you get any distance into the game there is pretty much a monster just out of sight on the edge of the screen in every direction. The world seems to have about 100 people living in it and 20000+ monsters at any time. Avoiding combat is usually the best policy.

The monsters drop potions and scrolls. You can only carry one of each, however, and if you already have one they won't drop another. This makes little sense. You can only save by resting at inns - the hardest parts of the game (the 2 dungeons and the final temple) are lengthy walks from an inn and there is no way anyone could complete them without numerous attempts to learn the layout. Having to walk for 5 mins to get there every time is not my idea of fun and because of the item limit you can't even stockpile on potions before you start.

The music is only present in the introduction and end sequence. The intro music must be 5-10 minutes long, for a screen where you only have to select start new or return to game. Why this isn't looped during gameplay instead I have no idea.

The Bottom Line

This game is in no way an RPG. With the silly numbers of monsters it plays more like Gauntlet than anything else most of the time. It is fairly short so I didn't have time to get too bored with it but had it been longer, the long walks back from save points would have been infuriating. When the game came out, I think the fancy engine would have been enough for it to be worth a look but while its still fun there isn't all that much to recommend it now.