Written by  :  Thohan (19)
Written on  :  Sep 26, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars
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A lonely, visually and aurally rewarding journey

The Good

The sights and sounds. While the graphics are a bit dated, this game did come out in 1997. This was state-of-the-art stuff at the time. It is sort of a hybrid between two and three dimensions. Certain scenes look kind of weird, especially when viewed at a slight angle, and there is pixellation. For someone who used to own and love an Atari 2600, I can overlook this. Unless you pick more nits than a family of snow monkeys being followed by a National Geographic crew (Dennis Miller), you'll find the game beautiful. The sights get better and better as the game progresses (although there seems to be an inordinate amount of time spent in the two jungles of the game). And better than the sights are the sounds. The soundtrack was written by David Arkenstone, and while I'm not familiar with his other works, the soundtrack exhausts the dictionary of superlatives. It's incredibly good, very moody. The track in the temple is my favorite, followed by the track in the city of the Ancients. It's inspiring! How many games have inspired you? The reason I still own the game is simply to walk through this world and listen. Fortunately, skill levels are earned at about the same rate whether or not you fight any monsters.

Luther. You play the character of Luther, a wise-cracking wanderer in search of a cure for the curse his witch mother cast upon him. Sean Masterson does the voice talent and he's good. I still find myself saying "that's...strange", "eeaghhh", and "oh".

The cut scenes. I've always been baffled why some gamers don't like cut scenes. The argument is that they wish the time and money were spent on gameplay instead. Actually, in the case of this game, that's a very valid point. But the cut scenes are beautifully rendered, and since the most appealing aspects of this game are the sights and sounds, the cut scenes are priceless.

Raising the tower. You have to play the game...

The price. You can get this on eBay for a few dollars.

The Bad

Gameplay. When it comes to using weaponry, be it swords or bows, there really is no gameplay as such. It's not much fun fighting or using ranged weapons, and beasties are nearly always better left alone (unless one is holding an important item), as experience is gained for making discoveries and solving "puzzles".

Quests. Some of the quests are unsolvable unless you get help from the internet. I fancy myself a pretty smart guy, and some of the quests simply made no sense. I would recommend getting a walkthrough, since this game will just frustrate you, otherwise. Some parts are rewarding when you figure things out for yourself, but have a walkthrough waiting, you'll be glad later and you'll save time. Some hints are based on things people say only once, and the sound dynamics are problematic. Sometimes the music blares over what characters say. That's another thing not to like. Time is precious. Have a walkthrough.

Compatibility. This game doesn't play on XP, at least not well. I always get hung up in the huline jungle. The game won't let me see Daniel's mother, who has his sword, without which you can not advance to the savage jungle. Fortunately, I have an older machine just to play programs that don't work on XP.

Game endings. There are two game endings that I have seen, and they're rather anti-climactic. In fact, let me share them with you. Based on critical decisions in the game, you either end the game as good Luther or evil Luther. The good Luther ending shows the Draracle opening a door to reveal Luther, in bed with Dawn. It's PG-rated at worst, but it's dumb. The evil Luther ending shows Luther from behind, reigning destruction on the land now that he's a powerful sorcerer. It's fairly cheesy as well. Thankfully, both of these endings are brief, and they're followed by the credits, which have some nice music and some "outtakes", sort of. There are short films of the game's developers, and several of the actors in front of green screens.

The Bottom Line

This game is a guilty pleasure for me. By most measurements of what makes video games good, this game rates pretty low, although a gaming magazine (GamerPro?) gave it an 89 of 100, where Diablo received a 91 of 100 in the same issue, if memory serves. And yet, it really is one of my favorites of all time. It was truly a labor of love and Westwood Studios put a lot into this game.