Knights of Legend

Moby ID: 1572

DOS version

Gaming hell

The Good
This game was 8 years in the making in the sense that the designer came up with the idea while playing a board game RPG 8 years before the game made it to the shelves. It was created as an attempt to join the best parts of computer and paper/dice RPG's into one package and I gather was worked on independently for several years before being picked up and finished by Origin. The games roots in paper RPG's are very apparent and you feel the game is rolling dice in the background for every action you carry out.

The graphics and interface are superb for 1989. There are nicely drawn still graphics for every building in every town, every person has a unique character portrait and there are many other graphics for any major events that occur such as winning a battle. The world graphics are similarly impressive. The game uses a multi-scale world, with sumptuous scrolling isometric graphics for all the towns and battle locations with a zoomed out world map view where you move your single pixel party around. Despite the graphical splendour the locations are still quite large, especially the world map.

The conversation system used combines both keywords and standard responses to good effect. The high production standards are evident again in the unique character portraits and conversation text for each character.

The game was designed from the start to be modular with 5 expansions planned. None of these were made due to poor sales though. On its own, the game is still huge and would probably take months to finish.

The Bad
The overall plot is fairly minimal. The manual gives some back-story as to the world you are in but doesn't give you any more reason for adventuring than a brief statement about monsters starting to reappear and Knights Of Legend being needed. You do gain quests throughout the game but these don't really advance the overall plot and they all have an identical structure. This amounts to finding the keyword for a certain person by talking to everyone in town, saying this keyword to them to get a quest to retrieve some object or other, asking around town to find out where to go, going there, kill everything, walk back and return the object. These quests can lead you towards other quests by providing keywords and the like but the formula never changes. Completing the game amounts to doing all 23 of the available quests at which point the final quest become available. This formula is extremely repetitive.

The combat system is very complex and detailed. This might sound like a good thing but it really isn't and ruins the rest of the game. With so many options available, it takes forever for each battle. To give an example, my first attempt at one of the quests took 2-3 hours, all of which time you cannot save the game. If your party gets killed on your way back to a town after the quest, then all that time is wasted. Bear in mind the first quest is quicker and easier than later ones. To give an example of the combat complexity, to attack someone standing next to you would involve choosing to attack, then choosing the direction to attack, then choosing what sort of attack, then choosing which part of the body to aim at, then choosing what sort of defense to adopt, then finally giving the OK. Even just moving around the map is slow, and controlling a 6 character party starts out as a chore and ends up being tortuous.

You can only save your game in towns by sleeping at a pub. With combat taking such a ludicrous amount of time this leads to mammoth play sessions. Unless you have a couple of hours to spare, you might as well not bother starting this game up. I'd recommend 3-4 hours if you want to attempt a quest.

There is no sound in the game at all after the introduction.

The Bottom Line
I've been attempting to play through all of Origin's games and had pretty much enjoyed them all up to the point I got to Knights Of Legend. I don't think my patience levels are all that low, I've played though the likes of Moebius before this, which while less than exciting was heaven by comparison.

I'd gotten through all those games without cheating but I simply had to resort to it after a few days of this. It is without doubt the single most tedious game I have ever played. I can't begin to describe how slow progress is, and the 2 hour combat sessions just to kill off a dozen monsters is insane. You can't even attempt a quest unless you have several hours spare due to the save game restrictions. This would alienate most people immediately and makes it pretty much impossible for me to actually play the game most of the week.

Hacking my save-game to get a character that kills anything in one hit definitely improved things - I now could play with a one man party which hugely increased combat speed. The game still took about another 8 hours to complete though. Finishing it properly would probably involve dedicating your life to it for a month or more.

While the game does offer a minor tactical challenge in the quest combat, the tactics required are pretty much identical every time, involving drawing creatures into ambushes by using one fast scout character to run round that map attracting creatures. The major challenge I faced was summoning the willpower to play any more of it. I know some people love this game but I simply cannot comprehend how anyone could enjoy anything this slow, dull and repetitive.

A huge amount of work was clearly put in to Knights Of Legend and it was all wasted by the most mind numbing gameplay I have ever experienced. With a streamlined combat system this game could potentially have been pretty good, but combat is where you will spend 95% of your time playing this and it requires a massive dose of patience and time.

by Pix (1172) on July 24, 2008

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