Gaming Made Me: Quest for Glory IV

By Richard Cobbett on March 19th, 2011 at 12:41 pm.

Quest for Glory tried several combat interfaces. They had this in common: they all sucked toad.
In this week’s Gaming Made Me, Richard Cobbett reminisces about an old crush. No, not on the sexy vampire villainess of this classic adventure/RPG hybrid, but on one of the first games that taught him to demand better of story in these silly little computer game things.

Quest for Glory IV was the game that told me what I was missing in graphic adventures. It told me what I wanted from RPGs too. It’s a story of heroism, of course, and of bravery, even if I do say so myself. But it’s more than that. It’s one of the first games that really showed me the importance of even the simplest interactions, and which set an early benchmark for characterisation I still feel sorry to see most games fail to even reach for, never mind successfully.

It all started with a woman called Katrina. Let me tell you about her.

Katrina is the first friendly face you see in the land of Mordavia, a sealed off country of dark marshes, forgotten temples, paranoid villagers and persecuted gypsies. She’s the only friendly face you’re going to see for quite a long time. Nobody else likes you. Nobody else trusts you. In time, they will. For now though, you’re simply a stranger, and they resent your presence almost as much as they need you. Only Katrina comes across as anything but jaded, suspicious, and ready to run you out of town if you so much sneeze like an outsider.

It says something about Mordavia that your only friend is also the world’s biggest threat. It says something about Quest for Glory that this friendship turns out to be completely genuine.

Fun fact: She's played by Jennifer Hale, and this was her first major games acting job. Without Katrina, there might never have been the One True Shepard.

The Quest for Glory series was never short of friends, in-game or in reality, though it never had a huge impact on the gaming world as a whole. The series, with its mix of adventure style world and RPG stats and character classes, was never really ripped off. The things that drew me to it remain largely untapped ground. I loved that each one took place somewhere brand new – the European village of Spielburg in the first game, subtitled ‘So You Want To Be A Hero’, giving way to the desert city of Shapeir in the sequel, Trial by Fire, before moving to the African savannah in Wages of War, and finally a fantastical version of Greece in the final part, Dragon Fire. They all shared a few elements in common, like a love of puns and lots of recurring characters, but all had their own unique feel and twists. Spielburg for instance was purely a base of operations, with the action out of in its forests, while most of the action in Trial By Fire took place in the city, with only very occasional trips out into the hostile desert for random acts of heroism.

The Quest for Glory series did many brilliant things that shaped how I saw both adventures and RPGs afterwards. I mostly came to it from the adventure side, which helped the freedom and scope of your actions seemed incredible. It offered Fighter (with the option to be promoted to Paladin), Magic User and Thief classes, all with custom side-quests and their own ways of solving the problems in front of you. Magic User was always my favourite as it came with an ever-increasing bag of tricks to play with, and usually played fair. If you had a spell like ‘Fetch’ and needed to retrieve an object, casting it would normally work. If you had an attack spell, responses would be coded in for most situations, rather than lumbering you with a boring failure message. You were encouraged to experiment with your abilities, just to see what had been coded in. With low skills for instance, clicking your trusty Thief Kit on your hero would lead to him extracting his door-opening device of choice, and accidentally stabbing himself through the brain. More skilled? Click! Congratulations! You successfully picked your nose!

No, it’s okay. Take a minute to finish wincing at that one.

This was the kind of interaction density I always craved in adventures, not to mention the first step down a path that very disappointingly failed to lead anywhere – a switch from traditional puzzles to more freeform problems, which could put more emphasis on how you solved things than whether or not you successfully read the designer’s mind. Quest for Glory didn’t really offer that many extra options and alternative solutions, more treats like lots of cool deaths and dreadful puns to reward exploration, but it felt like it did, and that’s what mattered.

Only the Paladin gets to touch her and tell her he loves her. Unfortunately for him, she's a rotting corpse at the time.

While I like the whole series (with the possible exception of the third, which does nothing for me at all), Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness is by far the best. It’s also the least welcoming. That’s part of the charm. Its world, Mordavia, is far and away the RPG world I’ve most felt like I was making a difference in, not because there are lots of moral decisions to make (there aren’t – you’re a Hero, and the game will kill you if you try to be anything else), but for how much you affect the characters lives. Here, even the villains are worth trying to save.

The Rusalka is the first you’re likely to meet. In Slavic mythology, a Rusalka is a mix of mermaid and succubus, luring unwary men to their deaths. You soon meet one in Mordavia, a naked woman in a lake who pleads with you to join her in the water. Accept, and you’re dead. She drags you down. You fool. But this is Quest for Glory IV, the game where you can befriend a number of the monsters, and completely change your perspective. A simple act of kindness, and suddenly the Rusalka is more than just another environmental threat and a sexy way to snuff it. As dangerous as she remains, she now begs you not to enter the water, knowing that if you do, she’s cursed to have to drag you down to the depths. If you’re a Paladin, you can save her from her fate. If not, at least you took the time to take the edge off it, if only for a few minutes. It’s the first real hint that your real job in this miserable land isn’t to save the world, but to bring hope and make it worth living in. Not necessarily by kicking green arses until everyone cheers up.

(Unrelated to this, I should probably mention how much I loved this setting. I’m a big mythology buff, so it was great to get to play around with creatures like domovoi and rusalka instead of more bloody goblins, kobolds and so on. Even better, it treated them in a very casual manner, unlike every other fantasy novel or game that feels the need for fifteen thousand pages of lore about what these mysterious ‘dwarves’ and ‘elves’ are. In Mordavia, they just Were.)

Grinding was a bit of a novelty in adventure games at the time. After four games though, I can safely say the fun had worn off.

Katrina is in much the same boat, despite being the instigator of all the game’s troubles. She’s one of my favourite… what? Villains? Antagonists? Opponents? It’s tough to say, and that’s why I like her. Quest for Glory IV is one of the few games I’ve ever played that embraces shades of grey from a positive direction, which is all the more surprising for the sinister setting. It’s a world where the villains don’t simply have excuses, but often sympathetic ones that almost overshadow the reason a Hero is needed to stop them in the first place.

As far as Katrina specifically goes, she’s the kind of character who could very easily be a straight-up villain. She’s a vampire mage who lives in a spooky castle, is plotting to blot out the sun by releasing the elder god Avoozl on an unsuspecting world, and has been spoken of since the second game as your previous nemesis’ Dark Master. She’s self-centred, manipulative, and while the story has plenty of sympathy for her, she herself lacks much real empathy.

When Katrina lets her hair down, it means she likes you. When she puts it UP, you RUN!

Despite this, it’s hard not to like her, or feel sorry for her. Almost nobody remembers her in her monstrous form, hair spraying out and fangs stabbing from her mouth. They remember her as Katrina, the loneliest woman in Mordavia, who shows up outside its walled town every now and again for what she seems to consider dates, and whose fatal flaw is not realising the consequences of what she’s up to. It’s notable that most – though not all – of her ‘evil’ credentials are implied rather than shown. Her lowest point witnessed in the game itself is that she’s kidnapped a little girl, Tanya, from town and turned her into a vampire daughter. It’s a genuinely sad, touching sequence, and one which makes a great point of focusing on how the parents are suffering as a result and how important it is that she be cured and returned… but one that also makes a specific point of showing that Tanya is fond of her “Aunt Trina”, and that even though Katrina is heartbroken to lose her, she shows no intention of snatching her back or otherwise trying to balance the books. The closest she gets to taking revenge is…

Well, it’s an interesting scene. It comes shortly after you discover that she’s a vampire, and find yourself standing over her coffin with a very convenient stake and hammer supplied by one of her other enemies – a misogynistic wizard called Ad Avis, who you defeated in QFG2, and is currently chafing at being under her thumb. If you go ahead with that, you remove the one thing standing between him and horribly killing you in revenge. If not, Katrina wakes up to see you standing there, immediately (and let’s be honest, not unreasonably…) assumes you were just about to stake her, and goes… ballistic. What follows is one of the most bizarre character tone shifts ever, cutting away to the castle’s dungeon where Katrina, who starts out dressed in a modest hooded ensemble, before letting her hair down for a more flattering corset look, suddenly shows up dressed from head to toe in spiked leather, whipping the hero like an undead dominatrix. As silly as this is (I defy anyone not to laugh when the scene cuts to it), it’s still true to her character. If getting what she wants by being a friend won’t work, then damn it, she’s willing to play the villain to regain control of the situation, forget being Miss Nice Dark Mistress, and just force the damn hero to play his part like she could clearly have done right from the beginning.

It’s the undertones of this scene that make it more than just a bit of fan-service, particularly the way that it’s clear from her reaction that she’s not bothered that you tried to kill her per se, more that she’s upset at the betrayal. It’s probably the only time in RPG history that a hero has ever been chained up in a torture chamber, trying to explain to his nemesis that no, he really wasn’t trying to kill them. Admittedly, since the other options available before she woke up included trying to steal a kiss or cop a feel, it’s probably a losing argument. (I don’t remember if you lose Honor points for trying either of those, though you clearly should.)

Ah, Mordavia. Where even the architecture seems to say 'Piss off and die'.

In mechanical terms, the relationship between the Hero and Katrina immediately struck a chord with me. It was one of the first games I remember playing that really explored how simply being interactive can turn a relatively simple thing into something more meaningful. In raw screen-time terms, Katrina and the Hero spend very little time together – but it’s doled out very carefully, for good effect. Unless you abuse save/reloading for instance, you only ever get a handful of questions every time you meet. By the time she’s revealed as the person responsible for the game’s ills, it’s not a shock because you didn’t guess what her deal was, but because it turns out that she really is the lonely, sympathetic character she always seemed to be. She just also happens to be on the verge of starting the Apocalypse. Nobody’s perfect.

(In the final game, Dragon Fire, it’s possible to rescue her tormented spirit from Hades, at which point she admits she’s actually glad her plan didn’t work, is a little upset that she’s seen as a villain by her people, and directly states that she never really considered the Hero her enemy. They can even end up getting married and ruling a country together.)

As well as simply being a sympathetic character, Katrina also stands out in my mind as a very inspirational one – something that cemented in my head the idea that even in games, heroes and villains could be more than just snarling bags of stats and puzzles blocking the way to the McGuffin. Some people hold up Floyd from Planetfall as their eye-opening example. I use Katrina, who in my mind at least, paved the way for the anti-villains and moral choices and page after page of arguments about which faction in Dragon Age 2 has the high ground that we all expect today. At least for my part, after several hours in her company, I could never even hope to take generic evil overlords seriously again, nor as a writer, ever want to create one without taking at least as much care over what makes them a real person as a threat.

Oh. And I loved the hideous puns too. That’s okay too, right?

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104 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Saul says:

    Nooo… the first was the greatest! I have a half-written “gaming made me” on Hero’s Quest (as it was originally called). But you’ve one-upped me, sir.

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      And now that I’ve actually read the whole thing:

      Well done. You make a lot of the same points I’ve been dwelling on over the last couple of weeks, since I remembered this series and the impact it had on me. It was actually while coming up with a game design myself that the realisation hit me, and it is the primary influence for the game I’ve just started working on.

      And I really do need replay QfG IV – my single play-through of it is somewhat overshadowed by the near-simultaneous release of Doom. I think we needed to go down that tangent of building 3D worlds, even if all we’ve ever really used them for so far is shooting things in the face.

      But never fear – even if it’s taken a while to come back into focus, Quest for Glory’s legacy will live on!

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      The VGA remake of the first one was brilliant too. That and 4 are my favourites, though 4 wins out for its atmosphere, developing world and so on. I can’t believe the Anthology has yet to make it to Steam or GOG. I wonder if there are some licensing issues behind the scenes.

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      An excellent VGA remake of QfG II: Trial by Fire is available for free from AGD Interactive.

      I would say that, in this form, 2 comes close to 4 in greatness.

      If only RPGs had been building upon these wonderful foundations for all these years…

      EDIT: Wulf’s post reminds me that I should point out that one of the improvements in this version is demazification!

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      QFG2 is an amazing update of the game. They did a bang-up job with it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      I haven’t played the remake of 1. And it kind of feels like it’d be heresy to do it now. I love the old EGA graphics, and I think the original is actually one of the few games where the text parser actually feels like a gift – it’s like there are a million possibilities out there, if only you can discover them.

      And because there are generally various ways to approach each part of the game, it rarely felt like you were banging your head on the wall as you looked for the precise combination of words needed to solve a puzzle (as was the case in the King’s Quests, for example).

  2. Spinoza says:

    To add ,Rusalki in mythology are the young girls which died before getting married. Around May in Rus people celebrated Rusalka by offerings and party

  3. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    What a game

    • Shih Tzu says:

      A bomb.

      (Or at least, the fifth game didn’t come out until years and years later.)

    • Dozer says:

      You’d make a good detective ST! We’ll drop it in the ocean on the way back.

  4. Robert says:

    Brace yourself. Wave of feeblekneeing nostalgia incoming. IT. FEELS. GOOD.

  5. Wulf says:

    I always felt that the third installment was the best one. It was the one where the series came into its own for the first time, and really found itself. The first had too much random wandering for my tastes, the second had those bloody mazes, and the fourth was really good but it felt like a tiny step back from the overall diversity of III. So III was the one I’ll remember.

    Then again, I may have a grudge against IV for having weird voice bugs, and a show-stopping bug that stopped me from completing the game. (I remember reading that I wasn’t the only one to have encountered that, too.) Plus, none of the games really had the weird and exotic factor going on that III did. And III was certainly weird. From an age when entertainment wasn’t so incredibly xenophobic, too.

    Hm. If there’s one series I’d like to see HD remakes of, it’s Quest for Glory. III especially so.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      The African setting was definitely interesting. It’s good to see something new.

    • patricij says:

      I couldn’t pick up the damn letter (from Katrina, I think) on the floor..the cursor simply jumped by one pixel too far no matter what, so I ended there :(

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      Yeah, I actually got a floppy sent out from the publisher, with a patch on it, so that I could get past a show-stopper. So I did get to the end, but the bugs sure put a dampener on the experience.

      Ah, Steam, how wonderful you are *scratches its ears*

    • Wulf says:

      Exactly! I was wondering if anyone would get what I was talking about there, thank you, Mr. Cobbett.

      Essentially this is the same thing I got out of Nightfall, when playing Guild Wars. Prophecies bored me to tears in the first 10 minutes or so. If I hadn’t gotten to post-searing, I’d never had known how amazing that franchise was. But as I’ve said before, Prophecies was a highly entertaining bait & switch. It started off familiar, and then got increasingly less so with every mission, and then less so again with every campaign. Ah ArenaNet, challenging what people see as fantasy. Bless ‘em.

      Indeed though. This is exactly what I was getting at. We can’t have a fantasy game set in Africa? Why not? How about Australia? Mesoamerica? America before the colonists (and trying to capture what the people there were actually like, instead of the cheesy representations we actually get)? And even parts of Europe that haven’t been done a million times over? (Parts of Europe are a popular staging ground for fantasy games, but that’s why it’s gotten a little bit old.) Egypt is ripe for this sort of thing, too!

      Toss some fantasy creatures into the mix, like those Lion-taur things, and perhaps even mix in a little Egyptian mythology and lore for the hell of it, and you have something unique. And III did feel unique to me. It wasn’t typical. The fact that I can name all the fantasy settings in games that have used less common locales bothers me, because the ones that have used the same old over and over are too many to count. And I think that’s why I couldn’t get into the later QfG games so easily, or the first one, because they felt more typical and thus less interesting.

      An interesting point to note is the setting for Mask of the Betrayer as well. I know I’ve gone on about it in the past, but I have a really good reason for mentioning it this time, and that’s that once again it was set in a really odd location for a fantasy game. A part of Faerun that’s criminally underused. I really can’t understand why we keep going back to medieval England, or parts of Europe that are similar enough to be familiar to it. Are developers scared of potentially challenging gamers, and that going too far away from the lowest common denominator they’d make games that wouldn’t sell?

      There’s so much of the world out there, so much mythology and ancient history that could be tapped to make some really interesting fantasy games. And that it isn’t just bothers me. QfG III did, at least, try.

    • Nick says:

      Thats one of the reasons I liked Titan Quest more than Diablo 2.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep. Titan Quest was a bit of an anomaly. I like anomalies.

    • kazooka says:

      An interesting point to note is the setting for Mask of the Betrayer as well. I know I’ve gone on about it in the past, but I have a really good reason for mentioning it this time, and that’s that once again it was set in a really odd location for a fantasy game. A part of Faerun that’s criminally underused. I really can’t understand why we keep going back to medieval England, or parts of Europe that are similar enough to be familiar to it. Are developers scared of potentially challenging gamers, and that going too far away from the lowest common denominator they’d make games that wouldn’t sell?

      I also think that Mask of the Betrayer was criminally underappreciated. The scene with Bishop in the wall of souls is one of the best things I’ve seen in a video game ever.

      That said, there are some pretty high hurdles for developers to clear in order to create non-Western settings. The developers themselves need to be immersed in source material. Otherwise they run the risk of creating a world without depth, something marked up with design elements and not much underneath.

      The second problem is your audience. Western audiences have trouble identifying with non-medieval European settings. It’s not entirely their fault; the medieval stuff is part of our cultural DNA, historical revisionism and all. In Dragon Age, we intuitively understand how the Chantry can be both a force of good, evil and the incredibly corrupt in almost inseparable strains. This is because we are familiar with the history of the Catholic Church, or more accurately its portrayal in popular literature. More importantly, we understand The Rules. We understand when they’re being broken, bent or just plain disregarded. And we do so in a way that we might not if the setting were Medieval Japan or Ancient Egypt. And if those rules are different, the designer has to explain it all in a process that is either extremely tedious or innovative and intuitive to a prodigal extent.

      This isn’t to say that it can’t be done, but I would argue that it makes the whole process exponentially more difficult, to the point that it would have to be somebody’s dream project, the pinnacle of a decade or so of thought and research.

      Morrowind was able to do it, but I think it works there by making the audience an outsider. You’re not supposed to understand the culture, or the way the world is put together. Part of the interest in that game is piecing together the value systems of that world and how it all fits together.

  6. Wulf says:

    Also, unrelated to that last post… does anyone remember the cheesy heroic pose the character would do whenever he was praised or did something especially heroic? >_> I have to admit, that was always one of my favourite bits of Quest for Glory, especially since sometimes when he’d do that, someone would shoot down his ego and ruin his moment.

    • Premium User Badge

      Saul says:

      Yes!

      There were so many little touches like that, which managed to convey more character in one ultra-low-res moment than (for example) Dragon Age 2 has managed in the ten hours I’ve put into it so far.

    • Wulf says:

      I can’t help but agree. QfG had some of my more favoured and beloved moments of adventure game history, mostly because of how much character the characters had. Though that was probably true of a lot of adventure games back then.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      (signs book with flourish)

  7. Richard Cobbett says:

    For me, Wages of War just felt incredibly light. It might be because of the huge map versus the amount in it, or just the story not clicking with me. It had good moments, but mostly I just remember it feeling empty. It’s not bad, it just made little impact on me.

  8. merc-ai says:

    QfG is my favorite adventure game series of all time, in terms of game design, game world and writing. And the characters! Poor old Nikolai, great Erasmus and Fenrus (he’s a pretty nice guy, for a rat), mysterious Erana, noble Rakeesh and many other unforgettable characters. Encountering an NPC you knew from previous games felt like encountering an old friend, something that even Bioware games failed to achieve for the most part.

    My favorite ones are 1st and 4th games due to their European setting and “base of operations” feel.

    PS The music, do you remember the music? it really set the mood for scenes.

  9. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Sounds like a must play for those that haven’t (I haven’t).

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Umm… does anybody know whether you can actually get these games anywhere other than a torrent site? Not on GOG or Steam atm. I really want to play through this series now….

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      Have a little search for “Abandonia”.

      You won’t be disappointed.

      (the iso cellar is found within the forums)

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Ooooh, pretty, thanks for that :)

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Also, allow me to refer you to my post above, where I link to an excellent, semi-official and free updated version of the second instalment in the series.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Awesome… well it looks like I’m guna be playing Quest for Glory for the next month or so. Thanks for the help guys.

  10. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    Richard: I’d agree with you. The reason it feels that way is probably because it was wedged in between 2 and 4 fairly late on. If you recall, there was an ad for “Quest for Glory 3: Shadows of Darkness” at the end of 2…

  11. Richard Cobbett says:

    Yes. Officially, it’s because the hero ‘wasn’t ready’ for Mordavia yet. Cough. Cough. Ohpleasewhataloadofbullshitandwowthisisalongcough.

  12. MCM says:

    This article is great, and just reminds me of how silly that “120 most important games of all time” was, as there were literally no sierra games on the list at all.

  13. MCM says:

    Is QfG5 worth getting and playing? I never actually played that one.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It has its moments, a decent amount of good stuff, and it’s a bit like a reunion special for the characters, but it’s not particularly great. Very combat heavy, very restricted due to the Rites structure.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      It’s the “reunion special” aspect, as you’ve brilliantly put it, that really bugs me about the final one (that, and the fact it’s in that 2D/3D awkward phase).

      The justifications for having all those returning characters is pretty poor in my opinion, and very unnecessary. It just felt a bit like misaimed fanservice, and it feels a little bit like a funeral (which I suppose it was in a way…)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, if you haven’t played the earlier games, you’re going to be lost. The feel is wrong too, especially if you’re a Wizard with the frost spell, whatever it’s called. I don’t remember the name, just that it’s the single most overpowered spell I’ve ever seen in any game ever.

    • JonasKyratzes says:

      I love the 5th one! It’s lighter on the overall story and heavier on the atmosphere and the details, but I found it to be most enchanting. Only if you’ve played the previous four, though.

    • Mr_Hands says:

      I must be some kind of mutant. My folks picked up QfGV for my birthday one year. (My mom liked the graphics on the back of the box.) I was a little less than enthused, not having really encountered much of the series before then. Nonetheless, I installed it and started playing as a Thief with some magical abilities. Admittedly, I didn’t have much of an index for what was going on with the other characters when they made references to “our past adventures” but I still found the puns tremendously enjoyable and the characters were all pretty likable. I liked the sort of built-in politicking that was going on. Especially if you were doing the chief thief contest. Also, going down to the bar and meeting up with characters or being woken up in the middle of the night by Elsa. It was one of the few games I’d played at that point that seemed to very nearly create the illusion that it was a living, breathing city that would react to your actions.

      Also, their handling of Hades was, for my money, utterly terrific. Agreed, though. I’d love to see a QfG anthology on GOG. I’d pick that up in a heartbeat.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Hades was a cool location, though as a mythology guy, I was a little disappointed that it made the usual mistake of equating Hades with Hell. (Tartarus was the closest Greek equivalent, originally only for gods, but later for people who’d committed specific crimes in need of the Ironic Punishment Division. The Romans ratcheted things up a bit more, of course, but Silmaria is primarily Grecian.)

    • JonasKyratzes says:

      Cool fact: the people in the streets of Silmaria speak actual Greek. With the right accent and everything.

  14. DOS4GW says:

    Always glad to see this great game series get the credit it deserves. There never was anything quite like it during its time or since.

  15. hazard says:

    I still have the manual for QFGIV in my office. I’m not sure why. It’s just sitting there. Daring me to throw it away. Something about the artwork (necrotaur!) and the screenshots and the fake ads and the bylines (PH Craftlove). Man.
    That being said, I think QFGIII still wins out in my experience. There is something lonely in the game and that felt very real to me as a kid. Playing until way past bedtime, setting up a campfire in the middle of the savannah, hoping that no monsters showed up, but sort of secretly hoping that they would. Or hoping that you would get a random encounter with (if I recall correctly) a Cerebus-eqsue earth pig? Of course it would be a few years before I knew who/what Cerebus was so I’m guessing I missed more than a few of the jokes.
    Excellent read.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    Well, what to say really.
    You’ve pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter, it’s interesting to find someone who’s had pretty much the same experience (I also favour the mage, it just feels like the right choice, although I do find the Paladin aspects very good in QfG4).
    I do like the Lovecraftian influences too, all the mythos around Avoozl is full of references, and there’s even a copy of the Necronomicon to find (but save before you read it, okay?)
    I would of course take this time to mention the review I did a while back for Abandonia (search on your favourite search engine, for I’m not sure the link would be welcome…) and while you’re there I’d suggest having a look at the forum, and the rather excellent iso cellar where you might find something interesting.
    Hopefully the QfG games will be available on Good Old Games soon, and folks won’t have to resort to becoming a shipmate of Captain Paul Irate, scourge of the seven internets.

    [edit] And I forgot to mention Erana! A rather crucial person in all the QfG games. Her story is one of the more interesting, and the dream sequences…

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Necrophilicon! The Cthulhu stuff is really cool. I like how most of it isn’t so much jokes as winking references, so it still stays pretty intimidating even when they’re taking the piss.

  17. dan. says:

    Ah, I loves me some Richard Cobbett in the afternoon, what with this and Saturday Crapshoot over on (“Cheesy Maimer” – Ed).

  18. Keep says:

    I’ve never played this game/series, but this:
    It’s the first real hint that your real job in this miserable land isn’t to save the world, but to bring hope and make it worth living in.
    made me want to.

    Wow. I’ve suddenly realised that that’s something that always rubbed me up the wrong way in every RPG I played. You’re the Big Goddamned Hero (or at least, you will be). Now go save The Universe from Total Destruction!

    No! It’s meaningless! Am I making the world a better place by making it keep existing? Why can’t I do something that actually improves the world – fix things, build things, help things – instead of leaving it all behind in order to fight a threat that really, maybe, doesn’t feel like it’s bad but that it’s been labelled Bad and has researched its image to boot?

    Gotta check this game out so…

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Quest for Glory IV especially is all about that. The actual critical path is simply getting the five or so blahs to access the thingie. Plot-wise, it’s pretty short. What takes up most of your time is problem solving – reuniting an old man with his wife, running interference between a feuding couple, bringing the innkeepers’ daughter back to them… lots of things like that. It’s coupled with the beautiful way that the town slowly warms to you, from practically spitting in your food to treating you with respect and appreciating your presence.

      There are definite Bad People in there. Ad Avis is absolutely beyond redemption, and the witch Baba Yaga also largely counts, though she’s an interesting character in that she’s actually pretty safe to be around as long as you know how to handle her. (Hint: Food. Lots and lots of food.) Anyone who’s willing to be saved or redeemed though pretty much gets their chance. I loved that positivity. As you say, a lot of RPGs let you crush evil, but really, the world’s problems still suck afterwards.

  19. Richard Cobbett says:

    I don’t think there’s any argument that Lucasarts made the best adventures, but I was always a big Sierra fan. Everyone uses the old ‘Lucas was movies, SIerra was TV’ thing, but I think it’s true enough – in throwing out so many games, Sierra often made much more interesting, risky decisions.

  20. Grey_Ghost says:

    I was so disenchanted after #3 I never played this one, hell I didn’t even remember it existed. I’ve always regretted not finishing #3 even though it irked me something fierce. I think what really got to me the most was the way it forced me to label my Hero into a specific class. My favorite Hero saved from 1&2 was a mutt / jack-o-many-trades, and I hated how unlike the first 2 the 3rd one tried to shoehorn me into a Fighter / Mage / Thief class mindset. Basically it felt too restrictive.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It was especially bad for Thieves. Fighters had the Simbani, Mages had the Leopardmen, Thieves had… uh… a lot of free time on their hands.

  21. manveruppd says:

    Thanks for this, it was the only one in the series I haven’t played (I tried 5, never got into it), though I loved all the previous ones, especially 2 with its charming 1001 Nights feel and its cheeky references to everything from The Thief of Baghdad to Apocalypse Now! :) I even own a copy of the first game so ancient it’s called Hero’s Quest (the trademark-infringing name we dare not speak!) from before Games Workshop became a petulant child about it.

    I do agree with what you say, it is rather unique in its implementation of RPG mechanics, and arguably letting you use profession-appropriate skills to solve its standard adventure game puzzles is closer to the spirit of the original pen-and-paper RPGs than any CRPG got. Even the best and most sophisticated CRPGs mostly limit your profession’s relevance to combat and dungeoncrawling. Minor exceptions like the occasional extra dialogue choice (for possessing information only your profession would know) and the odd pick-pocketing don’t really count as “role-playing” to me. Hero’s Quest (GW be damned) let you be a thief or a magic user or whatever ALL THE TIME, not just when you were fighting!

    (And it’s worth mentioning it didn’t restrict you to your role either. In fact the first time I got to the climatic final confrontation with the wizard in the 2nd game, I remember I accidentally solved it using the thief’s solution even though I was a warrior type, simply cause I knew climbing and it was the most obvious solution that occurred to me. Loved the harem scene even though I wasn’t really supposed to see it as a noble Paladin! :p )

    The only modern RPGs that get vaguely close to the same vibe are TES games, and then it’s not really “puzzles”, but more usually stuff like navigating environmental obstacles which you do in different ways depending on what skills you have. And yeah, I wish modern RPGs had more proper puzzles as well, not just “find all 74 scraps of paper and then poke the nose of the statues in the right order to complete the ritual” lightweight pseudo-puzzles! (Dragon Age I’m looking at you!)

  22. domowoj says:

    You don’t get down off a mountain, you get down off a duck!

    You may be bold, but this rock is boulder.

    The puns in all five games were almost painfully good..

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I liked Erasmus’ guardian, who asked assorted questions, including “Do you know the Thief Sign?” and kicked you out if you admitted to doing so on the perfectly reasonable basis that, well… duh

  23. manveruppd says:

    Aww… my comment disappeared :(

  24. bluebogle says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve long loved the series, and have often considered trying to re-play them all with one character (since you could save your hero for the next game!) I wish Gog.com or Steam would release these in a way that was guaranteed to work well on modern PCs.

    One of my favorite series as a kid!

  25. Alan Alda says:

    One of my all time favourites – the beautiful hand drawn art, the atmosphere, the music and voice acting (Say hello to Jim Cummings and Jennifer Freaking Hale).

    As tragic as Katrina’s arc is, worse is the semi-deconstruction of the Totally Selfless Empath character in Erana, as you slowly unravel throughout the game exactly how shitty life has been to her – the price for not quite succeeding against the forces of evil.

    That valley is like home, seriously.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Don’t forget John Rhys-Davies as the amazing narrator. (Who recorded his lines despite the script being about a billion times longer than he’d been expecting, if I remember my QFG trivia correctly).

  26. unimural says:

    While Gabriel Knight remains my favourite Sierra, Quest for Glory is a close second and Larry is the third. And the point about Sierra making interesting decisions is a very good one. It’s not just about them having such a wide variety of games like Laura Bow, Willy Beamish and Leisure Suit Larry, but that within their games they often had made fairly risky, interesting choices, be it technology, gameplay or storytelling. Strangely enough (or perhaps it’s merely natural), their most famous series’ King’s Quest and Space Quest, when looking back, feel the most pedestrian.

    In general, while Lucas had better puzzles and funnier games, Sierra had the best stories. Grim Fandango is pretty much the only Lucas game that had true emotional depth imo.

    I remember hating several of the Sierra games for their stupid unforgiving ways. And I loved Lucasfilm/arts for not having stupid random deaths. The paranoia I had for Sierra deaths and dead ends resulted in a instinctive save juggling. Then again, perhaps that unforgiving attitude is, in retrospect, part of what made Sierra’s games so enduring to me.

    And dear god, QfG IV was so horribly buggy at release! To think how easily we complain these days :-) You should combine all the Obisidian titles to get to the level of crap QfG IV was. For me at least.

  27. Tacroy says:

    @JKJoker:

    I remember reading the Planescape: Torment message boards when that game was first released, and some kid came on complaining that his copy was broken because Morte would only ever say the first couple of lines of his dialogue, and he didn’t want to read all that text.

    I was disappoint. Someone else pointed out that PS:T would have taken up a lot more than the five disks it was released with if they’d fully voiced every line of dialog, but even if they’d gone to that effort it would have been simply hateful; I can read a paragraph of text way faster than some actor can say it.

    It seems like the path modern video game makers have taken is to fully voice the first couple of lines of dialog, and then cut out the rest of it. You can’t really talk to anyone in video games any more :(

    (Side note: later, I bought PS:T again in a two CD release. I was surprised at this; how did they manage to get five disks down into two? Then I realized that this version was released much later, and they’d probably hacked the engine to use compressed MP3 sound files instead of uncompressed wave files; computers had gotten fast enough in the meantime that they wouldn’t choke on the extra CPU load)

  28. SuffixTreeMonkey says:

    I was too young to enjoy these when they came out in the US, but I was fortunate enough to be in my teens when my local game magazines started to translate and include older games with them — and they managed to translate the 3 VGA Quests! (1,3,4) Those games sparked my love of adventure games. I was too young to fully understand why, but I know today — detailed environment with a lot of comments and jokes there, colourful characters, fun RPG aspects (climbing in all games, strength training in 3 and 4, fighting increasingly larger numbers of goblins in 1) and fascinating environments…

    I live in Central Europe in a post-Soviet Bloc country, so I was really in love with the Slavic folk tales! That a Western team took the time and created a fantasy based on our folk tales was so amazing for the teenaged me… not even the local developers do that!

    I accept the fact that the games have changed style to approach the next generation’s teens more easily (heck, I like MW2 and I like DA2 to some extent) but the wonderful adventure tales like the QfG series will always be close to my heart.

    In fact, I think they are art as impressive as the gripping work of Tolkien or, say, Alan Moore. But they are lost in time now and will be forgotten much sooner. That’s life. To the Coles, wherever you are: you’ve created a masterpiece.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s odd how little things like Slavic tales are used. There are some beautiful ones, some great lyrical names, superb monsters and characters alike, and there’s nothing about them that would be jarring to a wider audience. One of the things I like about the Witcher (and the bits I’ve seen of its sequel) are that they’re still using Polish writers, so there’s automatically a slightly different sensibility behind the fiction.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      That’s one thing I really liked about both Quest for Glory and King’s Quest. QFG was all about real folklore and regional settings, and KQ prominently featured real fairytales and the like. They borrowed while still creating their own worlds, a bit like Shakespeare.

      If *any* early games will stand the test of time, surely it’s QFG. If I owned the properties, I’d get some artists to make higher-res graphics, record full voiceovers, make a few minor changes (all combat systems should be like QFG2), and just re-release the whole damn series. RPGs with puzzles, but no “quests”? And I can actually play a thief and steal stuff? How innovative!

  29. BobsLawnService says:

    Nice one, but I don’t believe that you couldn’t get into Wages of War which I thought was the best of the first four games (I never did get to the last one.)
    I loved the fact that they used the Sub-Saharan African motif and touched on the myths and legends from the area which are completely ignored in mainstream culture but are fascinating.

    Also, the Man Hunter series had the best deaths of any of the Sierra games. “Rats and bats and that’s no lie. They eat your face and then you die.”

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      I finished it. It just didn’t do as much for me as the others. I appreciated the setting, but the quest itself left me pretty cold. You’re told exactly what’s going on at the start, then just sort of bumble around for a bit before heading into the Lost City and fighting a villain so generic he doesn’t even have a name.

      Manhunter’s deaths were weird. The whole premise is that nobody’s allowed to talk, and then the developers show up in their cloaks and… oh.

    • Wulf says:

      I have to agree that Wages of War was by far the best. It was not only the most entertaining (it had some brilliant set pieces, and even deaths) for me, but it was the most diverse and interesting too, from a visual standpoint, a cultural one, and as far as the story goes, too. I think that’s why not everyone could get into it, though – some people have familiarity issues, and perhaps Quest for Glory III was just a bit too much, too disconcerting. That’s a shame though, it really is.

      II & III were Quest for Glory trying to do something different. I liked II (except for those bloody mazes), and I felt that III took all that II did and built upon it with wild and perhaps even reckless glee. But again, some things are just too alien, too odd. It’s like Fallout 1 versus Fallout 2. I’m not a fan of Fallout 1 because it’s always trying to be so stone-faced, never challenging the players too much by throwing them into situations which would be very weird for them, never doing anything unexpected or unpredictable, just essentially what you’d expect out of a post apocalyptic game with some mild black humour. Then Fallout 2 came along and basically challenged everything, it was wildly diverse, a bit crazy, and it did this post-post-apocalyptic thing that I’d never seen anything do before, where society was starting to rebuild. It was also very strange at points, it did unusual and unexpected things, and this put people outside of their comfort zone. So it was liked less.

      That’s a shame, but I see that happening so much. I think that if people, now as adults with more open minds, went back to these games and played them again, then their opinions might change. I loved Quest for Glory III at the time for being like nothing else I’d ever played, and I still love it to this day for that. I do find it a pity that other people don’t see what I see in it. But I get that a lot (Fallout 2, Uru, Mask of the Betrayer, et cetera).

    • Wulf says:

      “Manhunter’s deaths were weird. The whole premise is that nobody’s allowed to talk, and then the developers show up in their cloaks and… oh.”

      Case in point, really.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Sierra’s weirdest death is in Police Quest 1 (the original). At any time you can type ‘remove uniform’ and your character strips naked and literally dies of embarrassment. Even Larry wouldn’t do that.

  30. Hurion says:

    The original Hero’s Quest was the first computer game I ever played I think… On a 386 Compaq “laptop” that weighed about 20 pounds.

  31. malkav11 says:

    I’m a bit surprised nobody’s mentioned the villagers with the, uh, extreme disconnect between subtitles and the actual voice-over.

  32. Igor Hardy says:

    Quest for Glory was a great series – my favorite from Sierra after Gabriel Knight – despite the fact that pretty each installment came with a plethora of gameplay annoyances and limitations, mostly related to how the RPG elements were implemented.

    In my opinion the best part remains QfG III: Wages of War which really nailed the cool parts of the RPG/Adventure gameplay finally. As you travel around the game world and the days pass new important events happen out of their own accord, characters have their own lives and you really feel like you are participating seamlessly in a living world with surprises around every corner. QfG IV is much more rich and ambitious that the shortish III, but it’s also dragging at places, uneven, unbalanced in terms of the stats (but not as terribly as QfG II). And the awful bugs to this day make it unplayable for many.

    Also, I don’t know why QfG V isn’t appreciated more than it is – besides some ugly character graphics, weak combat mechanics and a bit clunky interface, it offers the best realized QfG game world and gameplay and shouldn’t be missed by players who appreciated the unique mix of RPGs and Adventure mechanics that the creators were trying to perfect to the very end of the series.

  33. geldonyetich says:

    Having played the first four extensively with all three (become four) classes, I have to say that QFG was definitely my favorite of all the Sierra adventure series, with QFG 2: Trial By Fire being my favorite of the QFG series.

    I never did finish QFG V, though. It didn’t have a very good hook to it, played entirely different than the games before it, just didn’t have that essential craftsmanship that made QFG 2 so good. Still, Dragon Fire was a game made when adventure games were considered passe, we were lucky to get an ending to the series at all.

  34. Nick says:

    Well, you’ve inspired me to try the series. Hopefully I enjoy it more than you enjoyed Call of Cthulhu.

    Sorry.

    =(

  35. Birdman Tribe Leader says:

    It’s kind of funny that everyone is bemoaning the overemphasis on voice acting on a comment thread for QG4, because QG4 very likely still holds the record for most lines of recorded dialogue in a game. Not only is all the (extensive) character dialogue voiced, but every single line of (ridiculously extensive) descriptive dialogue is voiced. Just check out this video of the first minute or two of the game.

    And the voice acting is incredible! Yes, that IS John Rhys-Davies voicing the mountains of text saying “It’s a tree.” and “You touch the tree. It feels smooth.” and “You hit the tree with your sword. Nothing much happens.” And yes, that IS Jennifer Hale (female Shepard) playing Katrina. Almost every line of dialogue is done really well. This is one of the things that makes QG4 so wonderful.

    (I will admit that the ridiculous amount of voice acting and time spent getting the voice acting right probably ate up a big chunk of their budget and was probably a big contributor to the game being rushed out the door and released in an extremely buggy state. And so I certainly recognize that good voice acting is expensive, and I wholeheartedly agree that games should just use text if they can’t afford to voice everything. QG4 really is the exception here. But what an exception!)

    If you can stomach adventure games even a little, please please please play the Quest for Glory series! It’s so great! You import your character throughout five games! The writing is great! It’s a pretty open world in each one! The thief class actually gets to steal stuff in a way that’s interesting.

  36. catmorbid says:

    I always liked the series, but I was always too young to really understand and appreciate them. I hope they get to GoG soon, so I can buy them out and try them again with a tad more mature touch. I do remember liking a lot the QFG4 theme song, with the pirated version I tried a long time ago (for which I didn’t have a crack or the codes, so I couldn’t continue very far).

  37. edit says:

    One of my all-time favourite games, indeed. The combat was pretty terrible, but the game was so immersive.. and so ominous.

  38. Birdman Tribe Leader says:

    Yeah, so ominous. The opening is perfect, I think. Starting you off in a scary part of the world, at night, with only vague directions of how to get to the town. It makes you relieved when you make it there, and also makes you a little uneasy to go out at night again. (They also have all the villagers warn you about going out at night and making vague references to vampires and werewolves and ghosts. And the town doors are locked at night, so if you don’t have somewhere else to sleep you’re in trouble.) Being afraid to go out at night makes you approach things slowly and really get to know the town and the people (it also helps that people have whole new dialogues almost every day), but it’s totally organic and not at all forced.

  39. Corey Cole says:

    Wow, thanks for the wonderful article on QG4. I really appreciate that you “got” the subtleties Lori (and I, but mostly she) tried to weave into the characters.

    @Birdman Tribe Leader: Recording the voices for QG4 didn’t interfere with the production or release of the game at all. Sierra released the game initially with no voice acting. When it became clear that they would have to do a major re-release because the first release had so many bugs, they also decided to add voices. I was thrilled to spend two weeks in L.A. working with Stu Rosen (the voice director) and the incredibly talented voice actors. John Rhys-Davies was absolutely amazing, doing perfect renditions of most of the lines in one take. At the end of recording, he named QG4 “the CD-ROM from Hell” because the script was so much larger than he had expected. (We negotiated some extra pay for him, but it was still very cheap by today’s standards.)

    As for QG3, I really enjoyed it, no doubt partially because it was the only Quest for Glory that didn’t help develop. (I was off on another project – converting Sierra titles to the Sega Genesis CD – at the time, so my contributions to QG3 were only in the early design and final polish stages.)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Hey, awesome to see you – really glad you liked the piece. Thanks (to both of you) for all the great games/dreadful puns! :-)

      (makes extra-wiggly Thief Sign)

    • sabrathan says:

      Ah, I am a bit disappointed that I did not have a name for one of the creators of this game. You, sir, have changed my life and gave me not just hours of enjoyment but personality-shaping stimuli as a child and young adult. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  40. Corey Cole says:

    @malkav11: The “disconnect” in the villagers’ dialogue… I assume you’re referring to Hans, Franz, and Ivan. That came about because the voice actors started really having fun and adlibbing. I decided that it didn’t hurt anything, so I left the text alone, but used the improvisational voice acting. The director had also asked the actors which voices they could impersonate. Two of them chose Jack Nicholson (hope I remember that right), and sounded just different enough that I said, “Why not? We’ll have two Jack Nicholsons.” Again, we were all having fun that day and I liked the effect.

    • malkav11 says:

      Oh, it’s a lot of fun. That’s why I was surprised no one had brought it up.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      That’s fantastic. I’ve never played QFG4 with voices, I only ever owned the floppy version and was never really interested in talkies during that era (except Sam & Max). I’ll have to give it a shot on the next roughly-annual whole-series playthrough.

      I can’t begin to express how important the Quest for Glory series was and is to me, primarily as a gamer growing up, but still now as a game designer. You created something truly special, with so much personality. It remains a unique creation in nearly every respect, from the gameplay mechanics to the ubiquitous comedic elements that somehow never overshadow the more serious, emotional moments.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      I missed out on the talkie as well, sadly. I was obsessed with the series starting with part 2… some of my first PC experiences were Trial by Fire and Bard’s Tale 3… ahhh good old daze.

      I think I might just track it down as I did enjoy the talkie version of GK 1.

  41. JonasKyratzes says:

    Another thing I really loved about these games, and especially about the fourth one, is the day/night system. In most modern games, day and night are essentially meaningless; in QfG, the whole world changes at night, and many frightening and terrible things come out to eat pathetic adventurers like yourself. This gives real meaning not only to the time of day, but also to inns and other safe places (like the ones created by Erana).

  42. Vinraith says:

    I adored QFG 1-3 and played them when they originally came out. I haven’t gotten around to 4 yet, which I still think of as “that new Quest for Glory game.” Yikes.

  43. Tk says:

    The first Quest for Glory made me, and each successive sequel (which the exception of 5 which I haven’t played) only adding to the experience.

    The thing which I enjoyed was that even minor characters were usually still though out in a such a way that everyone seemed unique. It might have been as little as two men who had gone fishing, or the great conversations of the villagers in the inn in QFG4, even to a humble seller of knik-nacks
    .

    Also far too much time trying to go on a date with the money changer in QFG2.

  44. Birdman Tribe Leader says:

    Oh man Corey Cole! Awesome! Great to get the facts from the man himself.

  45. kobajagrande says:

    Katrina’s monologue when you find her in Hades in QFG V was probably some of the best lines ever written for a computer game.

  46. PegasusOrgans says:

    Late to the party, but… what the hell happened to having good manuals? I used to adore my old QfG ones. They always had interesting and quirky material. For instance:

    When Aeons pass where the Dark Things Lurk,
    And Mindless Servants do meaningless work,
    The ancient men will develop a quirk,
    And Everyone else will just look like a jerk,
    Then shall Avoozl arise from the Murk!
    The Necrophilicon

    Of all the so-called Dark Ones, Avoozl is certainly one of the darkest.
    “Ye shall know Avoozl cometh when the very sun itself doth fear to show its
    face, and the Shadows of Darkness covereth the earth,” or so wrote the
    notorious Mad Monk, Amon Tillado, before his unfortunate demise when he
    choked on a piece of cuttlefish. The study of the Cult of Amon Tillado is
    a object lesson of the fact that some things are better left unsaid, some deeds better left undone and some articles best left unwritten.

  47. Jimbo says:

    I loved Quest for Glory 2 & 3, but wasn’t that keen on 1&4. I’m no expert though, because I was about 8 years old the last time I played any of these games. 2 had cat people and 3 had lion people, therefore those games were the best. The settings in those games were amazing.

    Police Quest was more my thing to be honest. Hero Quest (which I only mention because of the name shenanigans) was actually very good too iirc.

  48. suibhne says:

    I’d like to stand up for QfG5. It was the only QfG game I ever played, since I was a Mac gamer at that time and none of the previous games had been released for OS 9 (or maybe even OS 8 at that point…I can’t recall)…yet despite all the hand-wringing here about how it’s really only great for longtime fans of the series, I enjoyed the heck out of it. I still remember many of the areas and have fond associations with the music. Even for a newcomer, then, it was a good game – maybe not up to the standards of the previous installments (after all, I wouldn’t know), but still a great bit of enjoyment that I remember years later.

  49. sabrathan says:

    (Pardon the length of this, but it could not be helped.)

    I cannot believe there are other people who feel this way about a video game.. Well, actually I can: But it’s very rare that I encounter one with whom I can share so much at the emotional level. This article expresses me so fully that it is almost ridiculous. The impact of QFGIV’s beauty, with all its gothic, Ravenloftish, “Transylvanian”, Russian, heroic storyline (without taking itself TOO seriously all the time, hence the comedy) cannot be understated. I still fail to conceive how this game made me laugh so much one moment, moved me deeply the next, and scare the living daylights out of me a few minutes later.

    Of all five games, I think this one was the most atmospheric by far. You could lose yourself in the hero’s role completely. It was you and Katrina and the dark forest. You and the Rusalka and the haunting melody and the crystal lake. You and the Domovoi. You and the ghostly, -undead- patron who guides you in the darkest nights. You and everything, alone, isolated, xenophobic, but in the end.. hope. The paladin hero’s interaction with the Rusalka has been for me one of the few true representations of virtue in the much-cliched ‘paladin’ or chivalric knight archetype in the game industry, but also in myths and legends. It plays upon one of the finest and rarest motifs in story-telling: Love between fated rivals and how it complicates things so subtly, but significantly. I also adored the paladin’s ending with her, when he does finally come to touch her without dying, but only with her very… emaciated form – it was oddly fulfilling that way, as if it proved beyond any doubt that this hero was in it for the sake of helping and nothing else.

    The dialogues were marvellous. The randomized events and the fact that you could miss out on some and get others just by being somewhere in the right time was masterfully done, and the suspension of disbelief reached levels that I have not seen in any other game (not even in my favorite Planescape Torment, The Longest Journey and others). I had never before in a game had the sense of dread and excitement when my character went to sleep in his room at the inn, not knowing what will come that night, in his dreams, in reality, or what will be waiting for him at dawn.

    Finally, I -have- to say here that the interaction with the fortune teller and the fortune telling itself has been second to none in video game storytelling. My recollection of the way she urges and inspirtes the hero to be a true, profound force of change and good (not so much as in slaying stuff as in other games of the series, but bringing the light of hope to the hopeless) still makes something leap in my chest. I am stopping here, lest I end up writing a full essay.

    PS: At least 6 years have passed since I played this game, I was still re-composing the Paladin Ghost’s music theme (Pyotr, was it?) in my guitar.