(This is part of my journey going playing through 1993’s Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Quest for Glory series is its continuity, thanks to the fact that they were all designed by husband-and-wife team Corey and Lori Ann Cole. Seeing how all of the games connect and how certain themes are revisited in new ways is really cool.
For example, the town of Mordavia is in many ways an obvious callback to the main town of the first game, right down to the layout. Yet this town subverts the warm-and-fuzzy fantasy village trope by barely holding back monsters with a magical staff and being home to a lot of macabre sights.
Plus a really grumpy leader of the town who looks like he spends his off hours glowering at Fivel for daring to ask if there are cats in America.
After stocking up in the store and getting a room at the inn, the next stop for my hero — of course — is to check in at the local Adventurer’s Guild. The only problem is that it’s completely deserted and boarded up, thanks to the fact that the valley is currently isolated and no adventurers have been through lately. Guess it’s time to open it back up for business!
I am really, really loving both the art styles of the characters and the fantastic voice acting. Igor — of course there’s an Igor in a horror-themed fantasy game — is a hoot with his black humor and dorky jokes. Wish he could come along as a companion!
There’s a type of humor that runs through this entire game that we today would probably call “dad jokes.” Just goofy, groan-worthy puns and silly jokes and loads of fourth wall-breaking references. Plus emoticons, because this was the 1990s and the plague of emojis hadn’t been invented yet.
I did stop by at the local mad scientist’s house, a fella by the name of Dr. Cranium. Stepping in there is like going into a completely different game entirely — in fact, Dr. Cranium is the great, great-grandfather of Dr. Brain from Sierra’s 1991 The Castle of Dr. Brain (also developed by the Coles).
There are a few really head-slappingly annoying puzzles to do here, including a tile-flipping one and a maze rotating one. All the while, the statue blows bubblegum because why not? He’s got nothing else to do in his spare time.
I did get to meet the good doctor, and he was as science mad as the rest of the town is magic mad. Kind of like a low-rent Doc Brown without the time machine.
Another fun stop in the town is the evil monastery, which honestly couldn’t BE more evil if it put a six-legged C’thulu octopus above its doors and had deadly books in the basement. Which it does. At least I was able to loot some clues about various rituals I’ll need to perform to win the game.
I also drank from the (ahem) Cask of Amon Tillado and got a rather terrifying vision of some sort of winged dark lord bursting out of the nearby mountain and bringing doom upon us all. Gotta make sure that doesn’t happen, I guess. That would be the “bad ending.”