I mustered all the enthusiasm I could for Times of Lore, but the game finally did me in, after about 12 deaths trying to reach my next objective. This game kicked my ass so badly that in more than four hours of playing, I only have one screenshot to show you.
I'm not so stubborn as to keep playing such an unrewarding game just because I don't want it to beat me (although I admit it is a bit galling). Part of the problem, I think, is the controls I'm using. The first question the game asks is "Do you have a joystick?" Like Wizard Warz, another difficult-to-maneuver game with a tiny window, this game feels like it simply wasn't meant to be played with a PC keyboard.
This is going to shock you, but Andrew Schultz did a walkthrough for this game. It promises some semi-intriguing stuff to come, but to be honest, the walkthrough is a bit more rushed and disorganized than Schultz's normal work. It's also filled with phrases like "annoying" and "patience" and "obnoxious," which makes me feel better about having bailed on it.
I also read Scorpia's review in the January 1989 Computer Gaming World [large PDF]. She confirms that there is no leveling in the game, nor any way to purchase weapons (what is all this gold for?) and no armor at all. Give all this, plus the inventory and combat systems, I've basically wasted all this time playing something that isn't even a CRPG by my definitions. Ultimately, Scorpia liked it better than I did, calling it "a good introductory computer role-playing game."
Here's my quick GIMLET: The game world is basic high-fantasy stuff with a quasi-interesting quest setup (3), but character creation is a process of simply choosing one of three classes, and there's no development at all (0). NPC interaction is probably the most interesting part of the game, certainly much more than we get in a typical action CRPG (4). The encounters with various creatures are tedious and unimaginative, although different creatures do attack in different ways (2), and combat (there is no magic) is an ENTER-key-mashing chore (1).
You can find a few potions and scrolls--only one of each at a time--and that's the extent of the equipment (1). You do find gold, and food and lodging purchases give the game a basic economy, but not enough to rank it higher than (1). There is a reasonably interesting main quest but no side quests and, I gather from the reviews, no role-playing opportunities (2).
Graphics are not torturous, but the sound is (except for the introductory music), the controls simply suck, and (as many of you have pointed out) the game window is too small (2). Finally, the gameplay is theoretically non-linear--you could head out in any direction from the first town--although I think you have to do the quests in a specific order. Ultimately, I just found it too hard, which was partly a function of the keyboard issue (2).
Final Score: 18. Almost the exact same score as the aforementioned Wizard Warz, to which this game felt very similar.
All right. Time to rouse myself back to Sentinel Worlds. Whether I like that game or not, I think I'll at least be able to get more posting material out of it.
[Later edit: if you really want to know more about Times of Lore, reader Dave Eaton has a good review and walkthrough on his site here.]