Quest for Glory: Packing for adventure!

(This is part of my journey playing through Quest for Glory 1. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

merchantIt’s getting late and so I trundle on back to the inn, putting my plans to fully explore this town on hold until the morrow.  While the game informs me that I’m getting tired, I see that the recently robbed merchant is now sitting at the table and so I sit down to ask him about the details of the incident.  Thieves, minotaurs, magic… the usual.  Sounds like a delight.

sleepI thank him and then buy a room for the night.  I try not to think about how I have very limited funds — this doesn’t seem like the type of game that will let you grind on mobs to get enough cash to survive.  I hope I don’t go broke with room service!

zaraNear the inn is the magic shop, where a stunning fairy/human hybrid named Zara is willing to sell me a few spells.  They’re pretty expensive and all I have funds for is a simple fetch spell.  You can never go wrong with a fetch spell in an adventure game, right?

almsNow that it’s day again, the thieves are gone from the alleyway and a poor beggar is sitting there asking for alms.  I spare a few coins because I’m a wellspring of generosity, and the begger advises me not to drink “Dragon’s Breath,” whatever that is.  I don’t think I’d quaff something called that in the firstplace, but good advice.

tavernThe only place left in this one-stoplight town is the local tavern.  The game informs me that it’s not my scene, but oh well, I’m not leaving until my curiosity is satisfied.

crusherTrying to talk to the ogre bouncer merely ticks him off.  After trying three different topics, he throws me out of the place.  Ha!

noteThe tavern does reward me with some quest-related information.  The card-playing butcher and baker talk about fishing and a large trout in mirror lake, and a nearby crumpled note certainly hints at something interesting.

breathBecause I couldn’t resist, I did order a mug of Dragon’s Breath.  It tasted great, or so I was told, but it also burned me up from the inside-out.  Ouch!  Time to reload and order a safe mug of ale.  Ah.

guildhallMan I wish our city had a guild hall that you could go into, sign up to become an adventurer, and get all sorts of wild and crazy tasks.  Maybe in Minnesota, but not here.  The guild hall has a board up with several of the game’s quests on it, including finding a lost ring and returning the Baron’s kidnapped daughter.  Tough times going about here, I gather.

The guild leader talks about the various monsters, the curse on the valley, and makes an Andromeda tourist reference for those who are familiar with the Space Quest games.  OK, enough poking around, it’s time to head out on grand adventure ‘n stuff!

rocksQuest for Glory sure does love its puns.  They’re not great puns, mind you, just kind of “HAR HAR HAR GET IT?” stuff.

I fear that rocks won’t be the worst of my enemies as I forge ahead…

LOTRO: Touring Dol Amroth

loveIt was amusingly coincidental that one of my kinnies posted the gushing quote on the right-hand side there about LOTRO while I was taking a leisurely tour through the Gondorian city of Dol Amroth.  Word for word, that’s pretty much what I was thinking as I took in the sights.

Edoras was neat as a wide, spread-out city, but Dol Amroth feels more established and functional the way that I envision a Middle-earth city being.  It’s giant, it’s rich, and it’s still showing us new sights after all of these years in the game.  Putting it on a peninsula surrounded by the ocean gives it a very different feel, especially with all of the seagulls swooping around and the trading ships sitting in the harbor.

city1Maybe places in LOTRO are more impressive at night with the change of lighting, but I was sufficiently impressed with the gates to Dol Amroth to stop and take a few photos before I went in.

city2The game gives you a quest to tour through the city, accomplishing various small tasks on the way.  I appreciated that, because I did want to explore it without feeling as though I was wasting my time.

Dol Amroth is imposing, with large, solid stone structures all around.  It’s almost cluttered, or at least far more compact than what I had grown used to with the Rohirrim towns.  It’s less organic too; more like a city of statues and fortresses.  I think it conveys well the fact that there wasn’t much room for the city to grow out, so it had to grow on top of itself in layers.

city3Looking down at the harbor.  I’m weirdly thrilled that we’re seeing the ocean here.  I see the ocean and seas in other MMOs, but I think I’m only realizing now that the largest bodies of water that I’ve witnessed in this game are lakes (Everswim) and the Forochel ice bay.

city4There’s a massive swan motif going on all around here, including the armed forces being the Swan Knights.  It has to do with some local Gondor guy, but I don’t remember much about the lore other than “he was really, really into swans.”  Not to knock the birds — they’re lovely and all that — but swans don’t project military might, financial accumen, or political saavy.  They kind of project “ooh I’m a 14-year-old girl falling in love for the first time.”

city5The bridge over to the Swan Knights’ keep.  LOTRO is still pretty, yes, but compared to newer games you can see more of its hard angles.  I wish that it could have a graphic engine upgrade to allow for new tricks, because this could look even better than it already does.


Quest for Glory 1: Magical adventure

(This is part of my journey playing through Quest for Glory 1. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

Even though I played King’s Quest and Space Quest (and the first Police Quest) as a kid, I wasn’t even aware of the whole Quest for Glory (aka “So You Want To Be a Hero?”) series.  Ah, the pre-internet ignorance of youth!  So even though I know little about this series other than it melds RPG elements with adventure gaming and that you can transfer characters from game to game, I’m pretty excited to explore retro virgin territory.  Plus, with the recent resurrection of Sierra, it seemed like a good time to explore another one of the classics!

GOG sells all five games in a bundle, which includes both the original and VGA remastered version of Quest for Glory 1.  I think I’ll be playing the VGA version, as the original looks like this:

q1and the remake looks like:

q2Um… yeahhhh.  I’m all into retro, but I’m not a masochist either.  Let’s go with the newer shiny, shall we?

q3So here’s my guy: Syp the Magic User (ugh, “magic user”?  So uncool, dudes.)  I get a few points at the start to spread out, so I decide to beef up his health (vitality) a little bit, give him a tad more magic, and — why not — go for 25 points in pick locks.  Because if RPGs have taught me anything, it’s that you will always regret not being able to pick locks on those treasure chests.  Kind of cool that the game lets me have this option!

q4Here I am strutting right into the town of Spielburg (I’m not quite sure if this game is a parody in the vein of King’s Quest, but I’m thinking it might lean that way).  Oh hai, sheriff!  Do ya need a hero?  Because I… am that hero.  Just look at my swooshing cape!

q5Why yes, he does need a hero!  The affable sheriff gives me the lay of the town and mentions that both brigands and monsters have been problems, and the reclusive town Baron isn’t doing much about it.

Quest for Glory — at least this remake version — is completely mouse-driven, for which I am immensely grateful.  You right-click to change between interactive icons (look, walk, use, etc.).  There’s also a top icon bar with inventory, magic use, and other fun stuff.

q6In the inn next door to the sheriff, it’s strangely empty save for one cat-guy by the fire.  I enjoy clicking around the various descriptions, after which I chat up the Katta and his scantily-clad soulmate.  Apparently they’re from the southern desert and want to go back there, which doesn’t explain why they came up north to found an inn.  They’re friends of the merchant who was robbed, and other than buying a meal or room that I don’t need, there’s little more here that I need.

q7Whew — for a second, I thought Hilde was an elf due to the pointy ears on the dialogue insert picture.  But no, centaur.  Huh, kind of cool.  We don’t get a lot of friendly centaurs in RPGs these days.  I wonder if centaurs go to the bathroom all over the place like horses or if they have very large toilets for privacy.  Why I’m thinking that, I don’t know.

q8I’m equal parts disturbed, amused, and confused over why the game lets you ask her out on a date.  It’s so out of left field, and yet this IS an RPG, so… huh.  Maybe the devs are appealing to the expected teenage boy demographic.  What would a human and a centaur do on a date?  Oh well, it’s a moot point anyway — I buy a few apples and take my leave.

q9The shopkeeper next door has aspirations of becoming an adventurer, but instead he just sits and reads ironic books.  There isn’t much here that I need or can afford, but I do buy some more food rations (will the game kill me if I go hungry?  I don’t know and don’t want to find out) and an empty flask.

nightI step out of the shop and discover that night has fallen.  Huh, this game has passage of time?  That’s pretty neat from a roleplay and immersion perspective, but kind of annoying from a gameplay one since the NPCs all move and pack up shop.  I guess I’ll have to wait until the morning to ask Hilde out again.

glowingI almost head back to the inn for the night when I see a glow come out of a nearby alley.  Hm.  Investigate?  Sure, why not!

trapAdmiral Ackbar: “IT’S A TRAP!”

I’m torn between kicking myself for getting into this situation and cheering the game’s willingness to prey on the adventurer gamer’s habit of looking for any and all items.  My palms grow sweaty; will I survive my first fight?

fishOddly enough, a fight does not ensue.  The thief says that I’ve made a sign showing that I’m one of them, and so he lets me off the hook and points me to a local tavern to pick up work as a member of the shady underbelly of Spielburg.  I am SO confused.  My character class is Magic User, not Thief, so either the game lets everyone off like this for no good reason or my 25 points in pickpocket have come in handy already.

WildStar: The magical floating buffalo of Galeras

buf1I don’t like to peg myself with labels, but I’m partial to taking off and just wandering during an average evening of adventure.  I like seeing what’s around the corner and taking trips to places that are devoid of meaty content (such as quests or important mobs).  If that makes me an explorer, fine, but it’s not a driving force behind my gaming.  I merely like being nosy and aimlessly meander from time to time.  It’s relaxing in the way that grinding on mobs can be.

So yesterday I finished up a set of quests and was ready to teleport back when I decided to hold off on that while running around the bend and up a mountain shard… thing to get some plant seeds.  Hopping from scavenging node to scavenging node is another good way to get exploring without even realizing it.  That led me to encounter this buffalo (WildStar probably has some sort of fancy name for it, but c’mon, it’s a buffalo) serenely floating in mid-air as if this is a typical thing for buffalo to be doing.

It’s proooooobably a glitch, but since Nexus is a weird place, I can’t always put weird possibilities past the creators.  Especially when I went further up and found a whole herd of airborne bovine:

buf2I envy their lifestyle.  They don’t let a lack of wings or the demands of gravity boss them around.  They are free and we are the beasts of burden, chained to this terrestrial ball.

I really didn’t get as much time as I would’ve liked to have played WildStar over the weekend, but at least an hour or so saw me propel my Engineer further through Galeras.  I’m still fiddling with skill rotations a bit, although I’m generally pleased with both my survivability and killing power.  I’d like to actually run a dungeon sooner or later — I still haven’t done any, not including adventures — but questing and leveling feels more important to me.

I did net a few more housing items during challenges and mob drops, including a nifty Chua desk that I hadn’t seen before.  Give me housing drops and I am a happy, happy man.

Screenshot Sunday

One screenshot for each game I’m playing!

waterRiding my goat up a stream in LOTRO…

mathDoing combat math in DDO…

cheerCheering in WildStar…

ytipTripping big-time in Guild Wars 2…

doom…and stumbling upon certain doom in The Secret World.

Sanitarium: The circus of fools

(This is part of my journey playing through Sanitarium. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

c1The gargoyle in the fountain at the asylum not only sent Max into a bizarre circus, but it put him in the shoes of his younger, probably dead sister Sarah.  At least I think we’re still Max.  The game isn’t explaining much right now.

The circus of fools is disturbing from the start.  It’s entirelly located on an island, around which partially flayed corpses float about.  The ringmaster seems surprised that someone showed up and encourages me to check out the attractions and have a good time.  Bobbing for corpses, always a good time in my book.

c2Even though I’m the only attendee here, I still have to pay tickets for the attractions (um… that makes sense).  And the only way to get tickets is to play a bunch of Squid Smash, the exciting game that isn’t a game at all.  It’s a series of dialogue repetitions as I have her smash the squid and see if she gets more tickets or not.  After about 25 tickets, I call it a day and move on.

c3In the big top I meet several of the circus troupe, including Inferno — a lady who triggers a Max Flashback(tm) of him getting married to his bride.  It’s a weird flashback in that the bride is first topless and then has her face turn into a skull, but hey, random manniquin-like nudity.

These characters spell out the dire situation of the circus.  The troupe got trapped on the island after a great flood (that hasn’t since receded) and can’t leave because there’s (why not) a giant squid in the waters killing people.  The squid is growing larger and larger, and it’s only a matter of time before it can reach everyone on the island.  Understandably, everyone’s a little morose about their impending doom.

c4After accomplishing a typically strange set of adventure games tasks, Inferno teaches Sarah how to breathe fire.  Because that is totally a skill that a responsible adult should teach any little girl.  Sarah then goes into a fun house, where a mirror shows a freaked-out Max trying to rip off his bandages.


c5After the fun house, I visit the fortune teller.  She indicates that Max is actually the one piloting this Sarah avatar, and tells me that it’s my destiny to face off against the squid boy.  Hey, squid boy, squid smash — lovely ham-fisted foreshadowing there, game!

Down at the freak show, a wolf man asks me to free him, and because I’m both nice and realistic in the fact that the game won’t progress otherwise, I do.  He bounds away, looking for bones, and I follow.  He digs right into a cave full of human skeletons and starts chomping away happily.  Considering that Timber (the wolf-man) is part human at least, wouldn’t that constitute cannibalism?  It’s a moot point, as the cutscene CGI is really stiff and not scary at all, and Timber gets yanked into the Shadows of Doom by the squid boy.

c6The confrontation with the squid boy — Iggy — is another one of the game’s haphazard action sequences.  Sarah uses her fire baton to blow plumes of flame at him, and after three spurts he burns up.  I get hit once.  Why were the residents so scared of this guy?  A little 8-year-old girl was able to whoop him!

The cave exits out into a mansion, and it’s here that I’ve lost all my will to keep on playing.  Why?  Let’s go to the final thoughts to find out!

Final thoughts

Against all its advantages, Sanitarium is just not that enjoyable of a game. By about the second session, I was really reluctant to load it up to play, which is not a good sign at all.  By the fourth, I knew I was done.  I didn’t want to see how it turned out.  The promise of more story wasn’t enough of a reward to put up with this game.

It’s driving me nuts that this is the case, because it has some neat ideas, pretty striking graphics, and creepy locales.  But working against it is some of the worst writing and voice acting that I’ve encountered in an adventure game.  How the story is being written and portrayed fails what the story is trying to do, and that is a shame.  Hearing these awkward, sometimes monotonous, sometimes childish, sometimes screeching voices bombard me pushed me away from the game instead of sucking me further into it.

Not every adventure game can have stellar voice acting and writing, I know.  And I’m probably spoiled by my time in past great games like The Lonest Journey, the Monkey Island series, and pretty much everything LucasArts and Sierra did.

So yeah, I’m bailing pretty early into this playthrough, but I always reserve the right to do that because there’s no fun in slogging through miserable games.  It’s so lackluster I can’t even get good snark going to tease it, which leaves me with dry descriptions of what’s going on.  Thus, let’s move on and try another title, shall we?