Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Game 34: The Faery Tale Adventure: Book 1 (1987)
Faery Tale Adventure is definitely not a famous CRPG. Barton doesn't mention it. It's Wikipedia entry is barely more than a stub. Its manual exists only as a text file on the Lemon Amiga site. And yet, after a few hours of play, I find it very promising. Its graphics and sound are quite good for the era; it features an original story; and it has a very intuitive top-down screen that (as Wikipedia notes) anticipates Ultima VII by several years.
The setup is as follows: The peaceful kingdom of Holm has fallen into dark times. Ogres and goblins maraud the land. A magic talisman is stolen from the village of Tambry by an evil sorcerer and his undead army; without its protection, the village comes under constant attack. The mayor sends the Master at Arms to beg the king's assistance, but the Master soon returns, fatally wounded, with the news that the king's daughter has been kidnapped, and the necromancer threatens to kill her unless the king submits to his will. The land's champion, the Red Knight, is missing and feared dead.
With his last gasp, the Master at Arms charges his three sons--the brave Julian, the cunning Phillip, and the bookish Kevin--to fulfill the prophecies of the seer Malbareth, find a series of magic artifacts, defeat the necromancer in his stronghold, and recover the village's talisman.
You start the game playing Julian, and frankly I don't know how and when you switch to the other brothers. In true CRPG fashion, I looted the houses of my fellow townsfolk, finding various magic items and sundries, before attempting to leave the town.
Gameplay is from a top-down perspective. The interface is smooth and continuously scrolling--the first isometric live-action game that I've played so far, which ought to give Faery Tale Adventure some bonus points. The game uses the mouse, although (unlike Dungeon Master) there are analogous keyboard commands to every mouse command, and I find the keyboard much more intuitive.
The lower left corner narrates your actions in the past-tense, as if it's part of a (very boring) story, in keeping with the "faery tale" theme. Under the narration are your vital statistics: bravery (battle skill), luck (affects chance of being resurrected after death by a "good fairy"), kindness (helps in communication), vitality (hit points), and wealth (gold).
After looting Tambry, I headed out the front gates and was promptly slain by a passing skeleton. As the manual promised might happen, a fairy glided along and resurrected me.
My second trip out was a little more promising, as I quickly dispatched two ogres and looted their bodies. Combat is a little unexciting. Essentially, you wield a weapon (all I can afford right now is a dirk) and press the number pad key corresponding to the direction of your foe, repeatedly, until one of you dies.
I noticed that my "bravery" went up two points after defeating the ogres, so this is perhaps how your character develops. There's no other suggestion of levels or experience points in the game. I'm not yet sure how to develop luck, kindness, or (maximum) vitality.
As for other discoveries: it appears that there are chests sitting around in the wilderness to plunder; there are various magic items (totems, skulls, orbs) with various properties I have to figure out on my own; my vitality increases as I wait around; and when night falls in the game, the screen darkens.
The biggest gameplay mysteries I have is if there's any way to rest or wait. The innkeeper/shopkeeper asks if I want to stay the night, but I can't figure out any command that lets me do that.
So far, The Faery Tale Adventure seems slight but intriguing. I'll give it a few more days and see how it develops.