Reviews: Quest For Glory

The Brightest Jewel in the Sierra Crown

Sierra's success was always despite Sierra being Sierra, not because of it. This truism is all the more evident when you consider how many of the games developers who worked for Sierra did so under the self-acknowledging perspective that Jesus Christ we're tossers. Sierra didn't seem to share this sense of humour, which is a bit of a shame, since it meant that they wound up butting heads with some of their best products.

The Quest For Glory was never an early adaptor of the technology that Sierra shared amongst its developers. Quest For Glory I came out about the same time as Space Quest 3 and Kings Quest 4 were being released, which meant it could take advantage of the more advanced engine (who knew pausing while the player typed would be such a huge QOL improvement?), and it really worked that advantage.

Full of RPG elements that you don't need to do, the QuestForGlory series has a wonderful plot, a very funny sense of humour, NPCs that you can like, nay, love, with the means to create your own story in the greater narrative. Every problem has multiple solutions - some you might simply not have considered - and every play through can show you exotic and interesting solutions to problems that you might not have considered. It's not all sunshine and roses, though - the games are buggy in places, the thief class can do everything (literally - fighters and wizards can't pick up all the thief's skills, and all of them can turn into paladins), and sometimes the fighter solution to problems conveys you as somewhat thick.

Still. I love these games, and bonus, for those of you who are cheap, they're now Abandonware, available here. I really do hope that this review can bring the joy these games gave me in my childhood (holy christ I'm old) to someone who's never encountered them before.

Disclaimer: Simultaneous crushes on both Elsa Von Spielburg and Katerina Mordavia is probably the closest This Troper ever got to being in a Love Triangle.

How adventure games should be

Let's face it, the adventure game genre has some flaws. Most adventure games involve tedious puzzles that usually involve looking for items to use on things to get items to use on other things or fiddling with random devices, and frequently these puzzles make no sense.

Quest for Glory however doesn't really do that, or at least not nearly as much. Instead, a good portion of the gameplay is more or less puzzle free in the traditional sense, and what puzzles there are are much more a test of how you use your resources. NPC interaction often uses standard adventure dialogue trees, but they are usually not too important and rarely go too deep or take up a lot of time.

Doubtless this sort of gameplay would be a lot less interesting though if it didn't have elements of a role-playing game. The system is simple. You start with various attributes that you can increasing by practice. Magic can be learned at various places and can be practiced to increase it's power. That's about all there is to it. But the fact that combat and character growth exist at all is something that can really spice up the game beyond a simple adventure game.

The real genius of the game though, is how the adventure and RPG elements work together. Almost every action you can do has a attribute associated with it. A lot of adventure games would let you climb a tree. Only the Quest for Glory series has a climbing attribute and actually keeps track of how good you are at it and has you slip and fall if you don't have enough points. In addition by doing actions over and over you get better at them, but it also drains stamina, requiring you to rest. In addition, all spells and a lot of items that otherwise are used for recovering health or as equipment can also be used as solutions to puzzles. And since you can create your character as one of three classes with different skillsets, puzzles have multiple solutions.

That said, if you threw out all the role-playing game elements, I think it would be a better adventure game then most. Useing spells/skills or multiuse items in different ways rather then one-use disposable items is one example of that. Then again maybe adventure games are best as hybrids. Like with Psychonauts.