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?

Month of DDO: Sewer surfing

d1After capturing, losing, recapturing, and relosing this Shar priest, I’m about ready to throw my hands up in exasperation and let him go already.  The Wheloon prison storyline in Dungeons and Dragons Online isn’t as willing to do so, however.  There’s a conspiracy afoot!  There’s a prison break!  And now I’m informed that there are innocents trapped inside the walls of this Escape from New York-style city prison.  I guess that’s a potential problem when you dump people into a place and give them no possibility of parole.  Also, where’s the sympathy for any kids that the inmates might have?

So I jump the walls — enjoying my character’s always-on slowfall as I drift down — and make my way through the prison to find this supposed enclave of non-criminals.  The mission to do so is level 16 (one level higher than I am) and inside a sewer.  You ever notice how D&D games seem to feature more sewer explorations than dungeons?  Should be called Sewers & Slimes instead of Dungeons & Dragons, methinks.

d2For the most part, this isn’t a hard mission, but it isn’t particularly easy either.  There’s a lot of wandering down tunnels looking for these good people camps, surviving the inevitable onslaught of bad guys when you do find the camps, and then collecting two crests that unlocks the final door to the boss fight.

DDO does several things differently than we’ve become accustomed to in other MMOs, and I was reminded about them once again during this mission.  Not only is there no health regeneration (you either have to leave the quest, find a rest shrine, use a healing spell, or use a healing potion), but there’s no XP from killing mobs nor item drops outside of the occasional barrel.  It kind of strips the constant reward cycle away to focus you on the mission, and only once you’re done with it will you receive the XP and loot you crave.  I actually kind of like this setup more.  It makes completing an instance a major feat instead of just a boring milestone.

The only problem that I have in this quest is the end boss fight.  She stuns me over and over (and don’t look at me to know how I should ward myself against that) while about a dozen or so minions attack from all sides.  My AOE attacks help, but ultimately I’m overwhelmed and am killed.  Twice.

d3So I guess one of the newer cash shop additions to the game is “astral coins” or somesuch.  It’s pretty much like LOTRO’s mithril coins: a separate currency that you buy with real money/Turbine points and then spend it on various conveniences, like teleport.  Or, in my case, resurrecting on the spot.  I have some spare TP that was going to waste otherwise, so why not, but it still feels a little cheesy to do this.  I can see a danger of growing used to leaning on astral coins and blowing through way too much money, which is undoubtedly marketing’s intention.

Even though the sewer quest leads into the next one in the Wheloon series, I’m thinking that it might be better to back out of the prison (if possible) and return to Eveningstar for some more level-appropriate quests in that region.  DDO is nice in not forcing me down any particular path, but gives me options and replayable content.  I appreciate that.