On the heels of one of Johnny’s favorite adventure games of all time, comes an incredible disappointment, made even worse with age. It’s Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire.
Quest for Glory Collection
Genres: Action, Adventure, RPG
Developer: Sierra Online
Taking a different tack this week with a more traditional look at his favorite Quest for Glory game, Johnny delves into Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness.
When I started penning up these retrospectives on the Quest for Glory series, the first three games were merely a prelude to this one, Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness. For years this game has sat close to my computer desk, floppy disks and all, and I’ve never failed to bring it from one hard drive to another, characters and all, when I’ve upgraded to a new gaming PC. Whenever friends or colleagues start to wax nostalgic about the golden age of adventure games, and the names Space Quest, or King’s Quest pop up, one of the first questions I ask is, “But have you played Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness?”
At an outward glance, there doesn’t really seem to be anything particularly special about Shadows of Darkness, particularly in comparison to two of the other three Quest for Glory games in the series. It’s a point and click adventure game with a classic inventory, icon system, and all. Without getting your clicking finger all worked up, it’d be difficult to distinguish it from QfG3, or even the VGA remake of the first game. It’s real contribution to old school adventure games takes a little while to find, but that doesn’t mean it’s not attractive at the beginning.
For starters, the CD version (indeed the version that GOG.com has decided to include in their Quest for Glory Bundle) is fully voice acted, and by an incredible retinue of voice actors. You’ll find yourself enjoying much of the cast, especially if you ever watched any cartoons in the late eighties and early nineties. Narrated by none other than John Rhys-Davies himself, the cast grabs talent from Gregg Berger, Jeff Bennett, Hamilton Camp, Cam Clarke, Jim Cummings, Diane Pershing and even Jennifer Hale in her first video game voice over role ever. In fanboy terms, that means you get Grimlock/Cornfed Pig, Johnny Bravo, Gizmoduck, Leonardo/Die Fledermaus, Darkwing Duck, animated Poison Ivy and Commander Shepard all being narrated by Gimli. You can tell too, that the voice actors had themselves quite a lot of fun in the studio, with performances ranging from homages to famous horror icons, to improvised dialogue (as it is with the three townsfolk at the inn).
The horror icon homages do a good job setting a tone for Shadows of Darkness too, as it’s certainly the most unique of all the QfG games in its setting. With all its other games taking the attitude of “You want to be a hero? Excellent! I love heroics! Go do that and come back here so I can shower you with praises,” the feeling that exudes from Shadows of Darkness strays quite far away. Confronted with a glum setting, the locals are inherently distrustful of outsiders, and rather prefer no one rock the boat than attempt any amount of heroics.
The setting is Mordavia, a Russian styled township, beset by horrors ranging from the ever recognizable zombies (called revenants here), vampires, and ghosts to more obscure folklore, such as the rusalka, or domovoi. The player awakens inside an ancient temple, a site of terrible and ghoulish ritual, and sets about the kind of hero development you’d be familiar with by now.
For those not familiar, while still a classic Sierra style point and click adventure game, the Quest for Glory games wrap an RPG theme around themselves. Players choose a character class, and are awarded a skill set that determines your capability in each area. Unlike other RPGs, characters don’t earn levels, rather they individually develop each skill; you get better at climbing by practicing climbing, throwing by picking up rocks and throwing them, etc. Your strength in certain skills will play a large part in your ability to solve the puzzles the game throws your way. Rather than depend heavily on combining inventory items to create new items that solve puzzles, Quest for Glory has your character mainly confront problems with his skills, employing your spells, grappling hooks, or even acrobatic ability to overcome difficulty.
The Quest for Glory retrospective continues this week with Johnny’s look at Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness, his favorite of the bunch.
Johnny’s continuing Quests for Glory bring him to the Eqyptian/African inspired East Fricana, where demons and tribal warfare threaten the peace of the land. Those interested may find this travel guide to its largest kingdom, Tarna, useful.
With Quest for Glory I firmly in the bag, Johnny produces a diary of his Quest for Glory II character, Blistardo Thumbulous, for your perusal, in another retro installment of his Quest for Glory Collection examination.