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Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero (PC) artwork

Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero (PC) review


"Originally known as Hero's Quest and later renamed to Quest for Glory, this game is the first in another Sierra ''Quest'' adventure series, with a significant twist: the Quest for Glory games combine RPG elements into the adventures. You play the role of an adventurer striving to become a Hero by taking on monsters, a band of brigands and an ogre witch in the otherwise beautiful valley of Spielburg. In many ways, the game is like the other old Sierra adventure series: you walk around, you type c..."



Originally known as Hero's Quest and later renamed to Quest for Glory, this game is the first in another Sierra ''Quest'' adventure series, with a significant twist: the Quest for Glory games combine RPG elements into the adventures. You play the role of an adventurer striving to become a Hero by taking on monsters, a band of brigands and an ogre witch in the otherwise beautiful valley of Spielburg. In many ways, the game is like the other old Sierra adventure series: you walk around, you type commands, you talk to people, collect items, and solve puzzles. This is still the most important part of the game, and plenty to draw in fans of graphical adventure games. But that's where the RPG part comes in: when you start the game, you choose to play as a fighter, a magic user or a thief, and you are assigned skills and statistics based on your choice. The class you pick has a major impact on how to solve certain puzzles (many of them have class-specific solutions), on how you handle yourself in combat, and sometimes on how the storyline develops as well.

At its heart, Quest for Glory is closer to an adventure game than an RPG, but it handles the combination of the two well. The RPG side is just enough to add an interesting extra dimension to the gameplay; rather than just zipping from place to place, solving puzzles and ultimately winning the game, you'll have to work on improving your character. Early in the game, even the fighter is wimpy in battle, the magic user has very few spells to work with, and the thief's ability to, say, climb walls and pick locks is less than phenomenal. You'll have to take it slow, find good places to practice your skills and weak monsters to train against, and gradually prepare for the harder confrontations near the end of the game. You'll have to save up money to buy better equipment and badly needed healing potions. And meanwhile, you're doing what you are doing in every adventure: coming across puzzles, finding items, working your way past obstacles, and bit by bit figuring out what is expected of you and how to do it.

By giving you three distinct classes and making sure many of the game's puzzles are solved in different ways by each, Sierra has succeeded in delivering a game with plenty of replay value. The fighter finds himself forcing open doors and generally using direct, no-brainer solutions to whatever is in his path. The magic user, though starting off with only a simple spell to charge his dagger with magical energy, picks up new magical abilities quickly and uses them to see his way through. The thief, perhaps the best designed character, uses his unique skills both to sneak around the enemy and avoid trouble rather than face it, and to break into the town's houses at night and rob the very people he's helping during the day. This duality is pretty clever and makes the thief very interesting to play.

I've mentioned statistics and skills before. The former are standard RPG material - strength, agility, hit points, you know the deal - whereas the skills range from combat oriented ones such as Weapon Use and Dodge, to a variety of others such as Climbing, Throwing and Lockpicking. For the most part, certain skills belong to certain characters - thieves climb, fighters and magic users don't - but you have the option of picking one or two extra skills at the start of the game to make more versatile characters. A fighter with a little magic ability is an option for those who enjoy being able to solve a problem in multiple ways. All skills start at low and generally useless levels, but can be improved by using them a lot. If you can't climb up that wall the first time you try, you'll at least have improved your climbing skill somewhat and after a couple of attempts you'll make it sure enough.

Since Quest for Glory is from before the days of point and click adventuring, those who aren't used to having to input their commands on the keyboard (''look at tree'', ''fight goblin'', ''ask about brigands'') may find this awkward at first. I myself enjoy this, as it requires more creativity than just clicking the cursor everywhere it lights up until something interesting happens. (As an aside, for those who prefer icon-based adventuring, there's a VGA rerelease of Quest for Glory which offers just that.) The command interpreter isn't too picky and recognizes a good range of words, so I've never had any trouble getting the game to understand what I'm trying to do. Of course, that's a far cry from always knowing exactly what to do, but that's the whole point of this kind of game.

Not only the gameplay but also the presentation of Quest for Glory is pretty good. The valley of Spielburg and all its locales - from the quiet and somewhat dusty town of Spielburg, to the weird purple tower of the eccentric wizard Erasmus on a snowy peak, and the ominous hut on chicken legs belonging to the witch Baba Yaga - are drawn in lush colours and while some are better than others, most just breathe atmosphere. It takes a little imagination (fortunately that's a quality most adventure gamers possess), but you can almost feel the chill of the snowy areas, you feel sorry for the Hero when he drops to the ground, fully exhausted from climbing a mountain, and when you're out in the woods and a huge Saurus Rex comes chasing you, you *will* be scared. Speaking of which, combat is sweet and simple: when you run into an adversary somewhere in the valley, the screen changes to a closeup of you and the monster, and you fight it out using the cursor keys to attack, parry and dodge. Your success in beating the monster is somewhat dependent on timing your attacks and your dodges right, but mostly on your character's statistics. Dodging doesn't do you much good if your ability is so low that it fails all the time, and the best timing in the world won't let you hit a Troll if your Weapon Use is closer to 0 than the maximum of 100. Some monsters, like goblins, are intentionally easy to let you train up on them early in the game. Others, like the aforementioned Troll, are deadly even to a fully trained fighter. Combat sequences are plentiful, but not too distracting and always over quickly. They feel just right that way, keeping the focus on adventuring and not interrupting you too often.

The whole package is wrapped up by a somewhat decent soundtrack which knows exactly when to play music and when to keep quiet. It's not quite as awesome yet as the music in later Quest for Glory games gets, but it's obvious that it all started here, and some songs which remain in use throughout the series make their first appearance here. Sound effects are few and far between - for instance there is no sound at all during combat, only music - but they tend to be funny and effective where you do get them.

In a game like Quest for Glory, there's always something to do; be it advancing through the adventure, just raising up your skills a bit, earning money (which could be from cleaning out the castle stables as easily as from hunting monsters), or finding a safe place to sleep. Much of the quest is non-linear as well, allowing you to just start exploring, see what you run into, and which problem you can solve when. The game's finale is, unfortunately, a little bit of a letdown as it mostly consists of puzzles of timing and using your items, and the otherwise wonderful distinction between the three characters is non-existent as they all have to do exactly the same things in the same way. That's the only place where the game's formula falters, though. Overall it's an excellent adventure/RPG hybrid, the roots of a high quality series which doesn't take itself too seriously, either. Expect a lot of intentionally bad puns to be thrown at you by various characters and mostly by the game itself, as well as a bunch of hilarious ways to die. If you're any fan of adventure games at all, Quest for Glory is a game you can't allow yourself to miss.

Rating: 9/10

sashanan's avatar
Community review by sashanan (June 11, 2009)

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