Thursday, June 4, 2020

Game 368: The Legacy (1992)

I bought the GOG version, which says nothing about a Realm of Terror.
           
The Legacy
United Kingdom
Magnetic Scrolls (developer); MicroProse (publisher)
Released 1992 for DOS
Date Started: 3 June 2020
   
The Legacy is a rare horror-themed RPG. We've had a few, including Don't Go Alone (1989), Elvira (1990), Elvira II (1991), and Waxworks (1992). I guess you could toss House of Usher (1980) in there, too. Most of these games are adventure-RPG hybrids and the one thing that they all have in common is that none of them are scary. They have horror themes, but none of them are truly horrifying the way a good Hitchcock movie is. I never screamed during any of them, the same way that no Dungeons and Dragons player ever screams at the appearance of a skeleton.
   
The reason, I think, is that the RPG enemy exists specifically to be fought, and usually in large numbers. The ghost, zombie, skeleton, demon, or whatever in a truly scary film or game is something of a mystery. It's unclear whether the protagonist will be able to defeat him with conventional means, or indeed any means. And the protagonist probably isn't even trying to defeat it--probably didn't even want anything to do with all of this in the first place. When the ghost appears briefly in the mirror, it's a viscerally scary moment because you don't know what it is or what it can do. You didn't even get a good look at it. The RPG ghost, on the other hand, has a fixed number of hit points and can be defeated with a variety of spells or magic weapons as it's spelled out in the monster manual--and you're probably going to fight 20 of them. The horror RPG faces the same problem as the zombie film: you can make the first one scary, maybe, but not the fiftieth.
             
A shot from The Legacy's opening cinematic. It's a dark game.
         
I think horror also requires a certain attention to location and story that the typical RPG hasn't provided through the current era. You can set a good horror game in a gothic mansion with 15 rooms, each full of lore. It's harder to do this in six 20 x 20 levels of similar wall textures. It is thus not surprising to me that most famous horror games have been adventure games. You can take time to craft more thorough stories and locations with adventure games. You don't need to supply dozens of foes because you don't need the character to build skills or earn experience points.

Horror games rely more heavily on graphics and sound than other genres. You could write a fantastic horror-themed text adventure, but I doubt you could make a player scream. The same goes for the primitive graphics of the 1980s. It wasn't until the early 1990s that both graphics and sound (including music) advanced enough on the personal computer that developers could create true atmospheres in games and make a player really feel something in his gut. This is when we started to see an explosion of games that still define the genre: Alone in the Dark (1992), The 7th Guest (1993), Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet (1993), BloodNet (1993), The Dark Eye (1995), and others that you'll undoubtedly fill me in on because this isn't really my area.
          
The character approaches the mansion.
        
The Legacy comes out of this era, and the best I can say is that it's about as scary as a horror adventure-RPG hybrid could be, which means not very scary. Sure, the first time you open a door and there's a zombie, you maybe jump a little, but pretty soon zombies are just another thing to be killed so you can earn experience. The creators did a good job with the mansion except that, as with most RPGs, they made it a bit too big to plausibly be a mansion. The backstory is just a little too derivative of things you've already read or watched. It is horror-themed rather than horrifying.
   
If you can get past that, it's not a bad game. I had a very enjoyable first session. Mechanically, it's not unlike a first-person Quest for Glory. The adventure side of the game has a mystery to solve and a variety of puzzles necessary to solve it. The RPG side has a selection of skills and attributes that increase through use or through direct allocation of experience points. There's enough "extra space" with wandering foes to satisfy the RPG need for combat and character growth. These are the types of features you need for a true hybrid, and not just an adventure game "with RPG elements."
    
The Winthrop Mansion, as given in the game manual.
          
The Legacy comes from U.K. developer Magnetic Scrolls, a relatively long-lived creator of graphical adventures, including The Pawn (1985), Jinxter (1987), The Guild of Thieves (1987; I vaguely remember playing this one in the 1980s), Corruption (1988), Fish (1988), Myth (1989), and Wonderland (1990). The Legacy is the company's first game with RPG aspirations, although it uses the same basic interface as Wonderland. The commonly-given subtitle, Realm of Terror, appears only on some boxes and not, as far as I can tell, on any manuals or title screens, so I've left it off as per my policy. A lot of sites give it as a 1993 game, but plenty of reviews attest to a 1992 release in Europe followed by a 1993 release in North America.


It took me a while to get a screenshot illuminated by lightning. You can clearly see this is not the same house as in the manual.
    
The main character is the last surviving descendant of Elias Winthrop (1599-1662), who built the Winthrop Mansion in 1630. The style of house depicted in the manual was built nowhere in New England, probably nowhere in the world, until the mid-1800s. The manual tries to justify this with talk of "extensions," as if it wouldn't have been easier to just build a new house than to incorporate a First Period home into a Gothic Revival. Anyway, at some point, the mansion acquired some kind of supernatural curse; the manual claims that Edgar Allen Poe experienced it while visiting a friend, and that it clearly inspired his House of Usher. During his visit--in which the entire family had become sickly and insane--he saw an apparition that screamed, "Melchior! Free me! Perform the rite!"
         
The family tree from the manual is also given in a piece of paper in-game.
          
As the game begins, a newspaper clipping claims that three people are "missing" in some kind of undefined "tragedy." These three are likely Robert Prentiss, his wife Catherine, and his mother Karen, as all of their dates of death are given in 1992 in the family tree included in the manual. Karen had married Nathan Prentiss (died 1964), a descendant of Elias Winthrop through his maternal grandmother. The game's main character is given as a cousin of Robert, a descendant of Nathan's sister Sarah, although a graphical "break" in Sarah's line makes it difficult to determine how much of a descendant.
   
The game comes with eight pre-made characters from which you choose one. Each has different levels of strength, knowledge, dexterity, stamina, and willpower. Those first three attributes each come with five related skills, such as "Brawling" and "Lift" for strength, "Electronics" and "Mechanics" for knowledge, and "Firearms" and "Throw" for dexterity. Willpower determines your magic ability and whether you start with any spells. The language of the newspaper clipping is slightly modified for each:
       
  • Brad Norris, a sophomore at New York University. Captain of the NYU ski team and member of the Debating Society, Norris is reportedly "planning a mondo party." He has fairly even skills and attributes but no magic at all. I don't have any theories to the origins of the name.
          
Brad's statistics.
        
  • Charles Weiss of Bangor, Maine (yay!), a magician, astrologer, and student of the occult. He has a noodle incident called "the Arlington 'sacrifice' scandal" in his past. Balanced in most skills, comes with two spells. The name belongs to a founding employee at Oracle, but I'm not sure he would have been well-known in 1992. 
  • Charlotte Kane, a New York businesswoman who may be planning to turn the mansion into a luxury hotel and conference center. Strong in knowledge-based skills and comes with "Crimson Mists of Myamoto," a protection spell. No idea on the name.
  • Lucy Weston, a sophomore at UCLA, sorority girl, tennis and volleyball champion. Heavy in strength, dexterity, and associated skills; has virtually no knowledge and no magic. Her name is taken from the character in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  • Professor Henry Jones, head of the Department of American History at Pennsylvania State University, authority on the Salem Witch Trials. Strongest in knowledge and its skills; not so bad in dexterity; comes with "Sight of the Walker," which seems to have something to do with dispelling illusions. Naturally named after Indiana Jones's father.
  • Jane Olson, a New York daily Post reporter. Strong in all skills but has no magic. Probably an homage to James Olsen of Superman fame given her profession.
          
Jane's version of the newspaper clipping.
         
  • Major Robert "Boomer" Kowalski, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after decorated service in Grenada, Panama, and the Persian Gulf. Strongest in strength and dexterity skills; has no magic. No idea on the name.
  • Isobel Gowdie, the most mysterious of the characters, described only as a "widow" with an ancestor who lived in the area. Balanced but weak in all skills and attributes but comes with both "Flames of Desolation" and "Sight of the Dark Walker." Her name comes from the famous Scottish self-confessed witch of the late 17th century.
          
You can also edit one of the characters, change the name, and define your own. I turned Isobel into Irene, giving her enough willpower for "Flames of Desolation" and "Sight of the Dark Walker," otherwise favoring knowledge skills but putting a few points into "Firearms."
      
My character.
        
The game's opening cinematic shows a car arriving at the mansion on a stormy night. Glyphs on the main gate posts glow as the gate opens to admit the car. As the car approaches the front of the mansion, we see a light on in the cupola. (The mansion shown in the cinematic, it must be said, looks very little like the one in the manual except for the size and a certain dedication to symmetry.) The front door opens into an entry hall, and the view immediately goes up the split staircase and into a dead-end hall before the viewer is consumed by some tentacles coming out of the floor.
 
Gameplay itself begins in the entry hall, and right away we see that The Legacy features some excellent period graphics. There will be banal, repetitive textures in some of the hallways and less important rooms, but when the game really needs to convey a sense of place like an "entry hall" or a "study," the artists are up to the challenge, and I find myself wondering again why more era titles (e.g., Wizardry, the Gold Box series) couldn't have offered this blend of the generic and the specific when the occasion called for it.
          
Gameplay begins in the entry hall.
        
The engine, known as Magnetic Windows, brings an Amiga or Atari ST-style windows GUI into the game. The windows for the character portrait, exploration, messages, and automap can all be moved, overlapped, and re-sized. Most actions are accomplished with the mouse, in somewhat obvious ways, for instance clicking on an object and dragging into an open inventory space in the character portrait, or double-clicking on an object to use it. Right-clicking on things brings up a contextual menu, and right-clicking on the "desktop" behind the windows lets you save the game and adjust settings. I wish there were more keyboard backups for some of the actions, such as the "Hit" and "Aim" buttons in combat, but one thing the developers did anticipate is the difficulty using the mouse with the right hand while moving (as in most games) with the numberpad or arrows. Instead, they mapped movement to the QWEASD cluster, which works relatively well.
            
The various windows and game options.
          
The game uses tiles in which you can turn and face any direction. Occasionally, for an especially detailed room, you transition to a single-screen view in which you can't rotate, but that's rare.
 
The entry hall is 3 x 3, and the game is spatially sophisticated enough to let you walk under the two upper parts of the split staircase. The front door is magically locked behind me. There are a couple of tables, a statue of a demonic creature behind a glass display case, and a painting from 1662 depicting "the burning of a warlock at the stake." I am compelled by my history to note that if this was supposed to be a real event, it must have happened in continental Europe because there is no record of anyone accused of witchcraft having been burned in North America, and even England had stopped the practice well before 1662.
          
The painting in question.
       
There are also a couple of notes on the floor, and as I explored the ground floor of the mansion, I would continue to find more of them. The first, slipped under the front door, was from E. Croxley & Co. Realtors, welcoming me to the house and noting that some of the furniture had been sold to pay for the family's debts. But the others are from a "Marcus Roberts of Boston," who clearly preceded me in his explorations of the mansion and has presumably died there. His notes so far have conveyed the following:
            
  • The mansion's various historical owners have been given to "vile depravities."
  • Every 50 years, disappearances have been recorded in nearby towns at the same time that "strange lights [were] reported in the skies above the house." The last batch was in 1943.
  • Roberts believed the house is possessed by an "infernal entity that is preparing to break through to our world."
  • As he explored, Roberts discovered portals to other planes through which "demons and other monstrous beings" enter the house, particularly on the second floor. I also have him to thank for all the zombies roaming the ground floor, as he apparently released them from the mausoleum.
  • At some point, Roberts decided that it was necessary to find something called the Golden Torc, apparently in the lower levels.
           
One of the messages from the mysterious Marcus Roberts.
        
I started exploring using my normal "right wall" approach and soon found a zombie in a corridor east of the entry hall. Irene had begun the game with no weapons, just a spellbook, so I tried out "Flames of Desolation." It took three castings to kill the creature. There were more zombies later on, and I ran out of spell power after killing three of them. Spell power doesn't regenerate on its own. Neither do hit points. The manual is a bit cagey on how exactly you do regenerate these bars. I eventually found a first aid kit that helps with health. Spell points are supposed to be regenerated with meditating, but you apparently have to find some special crystals first. You otherwise do occasionally need to rest and eat, but you can only rest in rooms with a special symbol that I haven't found yet.
             
I cast a fireball at a zombie.
          
As I ran out of spell points, I tried attacking zombies with my fists. This worked out for a few of them. For physical attacks, you just have options to "hit" or "aim" and then hit. Hitting temporarily depletes an accuracy bar, so you can't hit a bunch of times in a row without losing accuracy with each successive strike.

You can't really do a "combat waltz" because enemies in melee range are in your square, not an adjacent one. Trying to side-step to another square requires passing a roll to escape combat first. But I did manage to somehow get one enemy stuck facing perpendicular to me, so I could beat him without retaliation. Later, I couldn't replicate this. I'd really like to find a weapon, but I've got nothing so far. When you attack with no weapon, I'm not sure if the game treats whatever you're holding as a weapon (e.g., a flashlight) or whether it assumes you're temporarily dropping that object and using a fist.

I didn't notice that my fist attacks increased my "Brawling" skill, but my experience bar did increase. It seems to increase a little bit with almost every successful action, including exploring new areas, finding objects, and defeating foes. You can then spend the experience directly on skills or spell power, but I've just let it accumulate for now, I guess waiting for the first time I try to use a skill like "Electronics" and it goes poorly.
    
I've been relying mostly on the auto-map so far. Based on it, I'm guessing that the main floor is 20 x 20. The automap annotates rooms and doors relatively well, but it doesn't do anything with objects, stairs, or puzzles, so I'm probably going to restart and create my own maps, since I use the mapping process to annotate things like locked doors and unsolved puzzles.
   
You'll be happy to know that I've left the music on. The main theme isn't really very melodic or insistent. It basically consists of three lugubrious bass notes, a pause, and then either a succession of percussive beats or a non-melodic flutter in a higher register. It has a clear "haunted house" vibe and sets the atmosphere well.
       
I didn't deliberately plan this, but it appears that I'm playing The Legacy along with my cousins at The Adventure Gamer. At least, I assume it's still active. Voltgloss posted an introductory entry on 2 March 2020, but there hasn't been a second one yet. Perhaps someone from there can clarify.
       
Time so far: 2 hours
       
*************
      
I had intended to return to Ultima VII for this entry, but it's taking me longer to catch up to where the game glitched than I thought. I'm still devoting a portion of my playing hours to that game, so when I finally do catch up, I'll stop introducing new titles and pick up where I left off.
     

86 comments:

  1. Given the other genre allusions you've picked up, it may be that the "Winthrop House" is referencing the Winchester Mystery House, and that a character from Bangor, Maine is a nod to Maine's most famous horrific resident, Stephen King. "Marcus Roberts" rings a bell too but I can't immediately place it. And "E Croxley" may be a play on "A Crowley". But these are all loose enough that I may be seeing references where there are none.

    In terms of the difficulty of doing horror in the context of definable, killable enemies, the Silent Hill franchise somehow consistently manages this across at least its first four games, all of which are generally frightening in all the ways that horror is capable of, and all of which let you actually kill your enemies. (They're in a somewhat different space to the Resident Evil games, which are occasionally frightening but often schlocky - the difference between zombie horror and monster horror - but don't actually veer into the "helpless protagonist" territory of Lovecraft or of Japanese horror until later games, most notably the excellent PT.)

    Other titles which are neither (traditional) adventure games nor RPGs that effectively convey genuine horror include Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, both of which capture the traditional sense of horror.

    Until Dawn is an interesting case study in very effectively capturing the *genre* of Western film horror without being, in and of itself, frightening.

    The Dead Space, Condemned, Suffering, Resident Evil, and Evil Within franchises all come close to nailing horror - and are great games - but suffer at various points for the way in which the control they (correctly) afford to the player undercuts the potential of the horror.

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    1. Silent Hill 4 had the ghosts you can't really kill, which I found a very frightening enemy back then. Especially after what they do later to your safe place

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    2. Five Nights at Freddy's tends to get overlooked and dismissed due to the culture of let's players and--frankly--children that surround it, but the first two are really genius horror games IMHO. They're short, simple games, but execute so many horror tropes to such a high level of sophistication that even I, as somebody that generally dislikes horror games, have an enduring fondness for them.

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    3. From what I little remember Sweet Home was pretty good when it came to the horror, but the key to any good survival horror is keeping a tight grip on supplies.
      Alone in the Dark is interesting, most fight encounters tend to involve one side crushing the other, but the only time it ever gets scary is the dining room.

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    4. System Shock 2 scared the bejeesus out of me.

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    5. Two others I wanted to mention (as well as Fatal Frame, below) are Forbidden Siren and Koudelka/Shadow Hearts.

      Forbidden Siren is part of the "helpless protagonist" camp, only you have multiple protagonists and some are less feeble than others. However, enemies can't be killed except in rare circumstances, so the most you can do is knock them out temporarily. The way you survive is by sightjacking: psychically seeing through the eyes of your foes to know where they are and when best to evade their patrols. Your large cast of playable characters whittles down as the story progresses, and it's kinda chilling when you encounter some of them again as foes.

      Koudelka/Shadow Hearts is a rare Japanese horror RPG series, though it's frequently too silly to be all that scary (as well as having the problem the Addict outlined, in that you're slashing your way through multiple versions of the same enemy which takes away a lot of their bite). It does truck with some era-specific demonic and Lovecraftian imagery though and can be suitably eerie when apropos. It also had this fascinating combat system that involved careful timing on attacks.

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    6. Siren is a great horror game marred by the late 90's/early 2000's idea that horror games are somehow enhanced by awful control schemes.

      Resident Evil was a victim of this until 4, and you can still find people today arguing that awful, awkward, unusable controls are an essential part of horror game design. Because making part of a game bad is actually good?????

      The argument is that the player having poor controls adds to the feeling of helplessness, but there are plenty of horror games (Amnesia, FNAF, many point-and-clicks) that make the player helpless without nonsensically hobbling them with a terrible control scheme.

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    7. I don't understand how anyone can have problems with RE controls, but not 4's. Literally the only difference is you can't manually aim, which would not be a good thing in pre-4's camera system.

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    8. What are you talking about? The way you stop and aim is where RE4 is most similar to games before it. Besides that, RE4 has tons of tweaks and extra moves that make it far, far more bearable than previous games in the series:

      1) The ability to vertically aim, not locked in 45-degree "high, middle, low" increments

      2) A camera that actually shows you what you're looking at

      3) Various enemy weak points that, due to the new camera angle and aiming tweaks, can be exploited rather easily

      4) A laser sight for almost all weapons that takes the guesswork out of aiming

      5) Stunning and space-clearing moves like the knife, suplex and roundhouse kick

      Sure, RE4 and the games before it technically have similar controls if you only look at the button layout, but you could say the same thing about Halo 4 and DOOM.

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    9. You never played Resident Evil for more than 5 minutes, have you? Sure, 4 has some tweaks, but its not really that different than the proceeding games in terms of movement. Like I said, points 1 & 4 are just manual aiming. Point 5...well, the part that actually isn't in the proceeding games takes a bit of the horror out of it. Point 3...ha. Point 2 isn't a problem if you don't run around like a fool headfirst into a zombie's mouth.

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    10. I beat Resident Evil 2 and 3.

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    11. Siren (aka Forbidden Siren, because I'm Australian) is a game I wanted to love so much but (at least to my subjective sensibilities) it was nigh-unplayable. Even with sightjacking, the game simply didn't give you enough information to understand the vision and movement of your enemies and when you would or would not get detected, and save points were not generous.

      It suffers from that problem where horror games want there to be a chance you'll die, to create a sense of threat - yet actually dying is hugely immersion-breaking, and if it happens regularly it causes you to stop thinking about the game as a real space with real threats and regard it entirely as a set of systems that you need to manipulate to progress. Which can still be a good game, but is rarely good horror.

      Regarding Resident Evil, I'm not a fan of tank-turning controls or really any of the controls in RE games, but the fact remains that the games were successful and a lot of the people who love them are willing to defend those controls, so there must be a large contingent for whom they subjectively improve the game, even if I'm not among them.

      In theory there's no reason why restricted agency of any sort shouldn't effectively promote horror. Just as movies like Paranormal Activity cause anxiety by restricting your scope of view when you know there's a threat outside of it, so too can limitations in movement provoke fear when you know a more mobile threat is approaching. (See also: every horror movie where someone has to escape a monster while crawling because their legs are injured...)

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    12. The thing is that it doesn't make any sense. It would be like if the game randomly minimized itself or blanked the screen for no reason. You can have a slow movement speed, slow turning speed, no ability to defend yourself, be forced to navigate awkward terrain, all with regular control schemes that don't break immersion by standing between the player and the gameplay.

      To continue the Paranormal Activity films, what those films do is similar to Amnesia and the genre of "Slender clones" do by shrouding the player in darkness and forcing them to hide. What classic Resident Evil does, and by extension any game with tank controls does, is akin to trying to watch the film in Esperanto or wearing a blindfold.

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    13. Aktiveco Paranormala was a great film - a klasika of the ─Łenro.

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    14. I can't imagine anyone actually being scared by any of the Paranormal Inactivity movies, aside from maybe being startled by a jump scare after 45 minutes of being lulled into a stupor by the crushing boredom. But I guess horror is subjective, and apparently enough people somehow find grainy webcam footage of a couple sleeping quietly to be terrifying for there to be six of those movies. No accounting for taste.

      In this regard I'd actually compare the PA series of "films" to the FNaF series of "games". The so-called "gameplay" loop of the latter boils down to "nothing's happening... nothing's happening... nothing's happening... BOO!" just like the experience of watching a Paranormal Inactivity movie. it's extremely cheap, but it tricks dumb people into thinking they're scared.

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    15. It's worth remembering that brains work differently, and that a little neurodivergence - whether ASD, BPD, what have you - can fundamentally change the way you interact with media, and what you find scary.

      If you have a very different reaction to a piece of media to the rest of the world, the chances are that's not about the media, it's about you. (I say, as someone with a late-life ASD diagnosis that made me realise much of the above after many years of being a jerk to people about media.)

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  2. An important warning: items for regenerating spell points are strictly limited. It is very much possible to cast yourself into "walking dead" situation.

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    1. PetrusOctavianusJune 4, 2020 at 4:03 AM

      Yeah, spells should only be used when really needed.
      And certainly not on Zombies.

      My first impression of this game was not very good, but upping the DOS cycles made it play much smoother, and restarting with a more melee oriented character made for a less frustrating experience, and I grew to really like it.
      It reminds me of the Adventure game Uninvited, but is not as fiendishly difficult.

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    2. There is (a bit later) a place filled to the brim with crystals. We didnt find it until we finished the game, so its possible.
      Its important though, that most enemies have a "nemesis weapon" that does a lot more damage than usual on them.

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    3. Its easy to put yourself into walking dead situations in general in this game. Like I said leading up to this, this game's more a weird survival horror RPG, so all supplies have to be rationed carefully. VK mentioned the game was criticized for that back in the day.

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    4. Well, that's depressing. I assumed that magic itself was entirely optional.

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    5. Magic in The Legacy is most certainly not optional; without certain spells the game literally can't be completed.

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    6. Some characters start with no magic, do they automatically acquire it later in the game or is it possible to get in a walking dead situation because of how you develop your character?

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    7. If you don't start with a spellbook, there should be one in the main hall, if I remember correctly.

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    8. Thinking a bit more about this - this is definilty more of a horror game than a classig CRPG, in that sense, that you can not hope to clear out levels. Its important to pick your battles.

      I cant remember any real walking dead scenarios though (we did restart because we ran out of crystals though), but its been a long time.

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    9. Characters who don't start with magic can learn it later, though it's way more convenient to just have it from the start. Every character can beat the game. And you don't really have to be THAT conservative with spells, though I definitely wouldn't waste them on common zombies. Always keep a safety deposit of restoration items in case the game demands you use magic to solve a problem.

      Clearing levels of enemies is doable (I cleared every level in my playthrough), but it requires preparation. It takes a while before you get a weapon that isn't pathetically weak. Almost all enemies have weaknesses that can be abused.

      (I'm really trying to hold myself back from spoiling anything because this is one of the classics in my book.)

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    10. Hah, that's so typical Magnetic Scrolls. OK, maybe all text adventures are to a certain point, but having played Corruption and a few others they were all reload fests. You even have to know things for the solution that you can't possibly know when you follow the right path, so you really HAVE no other choice than to reload. Hope that doesn't happen here.

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  3. I'm wondering where this game's graphic style fits...previously I thought it was using pre-rendered graphics like Myst or Donkey Kong Country at least for the monster models, but looking at it again I'm not sure anymore

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    1. The monsters look digitised to me, like in Mortal Kombat.

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    2. Judging by what can be read in these magazines, all the graphics are modeled with a 3D program, that is, they have been pre-rendered. There do not appear to be actors involved:

      *https://archive.org/details/PC_Review_Issue_10_1992-08_EMAP_Images_GB/page/n15/mode/2up

      *https://archive.org/details/powerplaymagazine-1992-10/page/n23/mode/2up

      *http://download.abandonware.org/magazines/Joystick/joystick_numero029/page%20040.jpg, http://download.abandonware.org/magazines/Joystick/joystick_numero029/page%20041.jpg

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  4. I have always heard good things about this game but strangely enough there are few reviews or lets plays even in youtube so this is more than welcome

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  5. If I recall correctly, whyen I played this, I avoided the zombies where possible by trying to stay out of their way and going into rooms (the zombies stay in the hallways).

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  6. When you brought the whole list of playable characters put together I have noted a possible, and really silly, cultural reference for the first time. I have played The Legacy a lot but never paid attention to their names.

    Here we have Brad Norris and Charles Weiss and possibly this is a reference to Brad Majors and Janet Weiss from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The theme of the movie and the game is similar - being stuck in a creepy mansion in the middle of the night. Maybe one of the designers wanted to make a joke?

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    1. I think your theory is right. If you take the remaining two parts of the names you get "Charles Norris" aka "Chuck" Norris.

      "Charlotte Kane" is a reference to Charles Kane aka "Citizen Kane".

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    2. Good call. Mixing and matching the first and last names does produce these likely sources.

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    3. I would have thought it a reference to Solomon Kane

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    4. Charlotte is a feminized version of Charles. Charles Foster Kane is the name of the titular Citizen Kane. Charles Foster Kane was based on real-life newspaper millionaire William Randolph Hearst. Hearst owned a huge mansion on the central California coast known as "Hearst Castle" (which, like the Winchester Mystery House, is open for tours.) The mansion's exterior was filmed and used in the movie as Charles Foster Kane's home.

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  7. I guess we fundamentally disagree on some aspects of both RPGs and horror. For one, I think horror text adventures can be very effective, as text stimulates the imagination and what you imagine can be scarier than any artist's rendition. And if text couldn't be scary, there'd be no point in horror novels, would there?

    As for RPGs, I don't think they necessarily need to throw hordes of enemies at you. As Legacy shows, you can gain XP from other actions (exploration, successful skill use) so character development is possible even when you avoid most fights. And there's no reason why an RPG can't have one-off enemies that are particularly dangerous and trying to defeat them would drain you of so many of your resources that it would leave you extremely vulnerable.

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    1. It's also been discussed in past comment sections that there can be an RPG with totally optional combat, or no combat at all--football managers, the career modes of certain sports games, and The Sims are some examples.

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    2. Disco Elysium and Titan Outpost are two 2019 RPGs that have no combat whatsoever.

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    3. Oh, I don't know that we "fundamentally disagree." Those opening paragraphs were more me musing about some ideas than articulating a final philosophy. There have been some good points made in this thread, enough to make me re-think the associated issues.

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    4. Non-combat RPGs have been discussed. I'm not sure I'm personally persuaded that I'd call a game a CRPG if it didn't offer any combat. I guess I'd have to play one and see.

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    5. Are you up to giving Alter Ego a try? It's a 1986 game that's described as a role playing game on Wikipedia, and I do consider it such, too. It has stats, character development, events where you make choices whose success depends on your stats, etc. In the game you play a life from birth to death. There's a male and a female version, with both having some different events.

      It's not a very long game and can be finished in one sitting. And you've played games that had less RPG elements before (the Crystalware titles for example), so... :p

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    6. I would call the Alter Ego games CYOA games since that's really the way they play. The only real difference is that there isn't one single route to the end since they are life simulations.

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  8. With the game developed in the UK, I wonder if the character Major Robert "Boomer" Kowalski is an homage to this gentleman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kowalski

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  9. This Made me think about good horrorsections in ihrer rpgs, Like the serialkiller house in Fallout 4. I want to know about other examples as this

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    1. Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines

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    2. A lot of the random vaults in the Fallout games definitely work as horror.

      Gaaaaarrrrryyyy....

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  10. If it´s half an adventure game, why are you playing it?

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    1. Cause it's half an RPG too?

      He played the Quest for Glory games and loved them, and they're way more adventury than this.

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    2. Then this blog should be called the CRPG-half-adventure addict.

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    3. That seems a little inane. The adventure part comes from lore and environmental puzzles, same as many many other, more "pure" crpgs.

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    4. Hybrids are CRPGs. They're just not ONLY CRPGs. If you don't like them, skip those entries.

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  11. There are different genres of horror, not all of them rely on jump scare and grotesque visuals to make you scream. There's always the slow-burn horror that evokes a creeping sense of uneasiness, a slow buildup of unresolved tension. Legacy, while having all the zombies, ghosts and tentacles, is of that latter kind. The tension comes - at least in the first half of the game - from a combination of extremely tight resource management and sadistic level design. You really can't play it the way you play a regular RPG. There was even a huge scandal at the time of release, with players criticizing unfair difficulty, so the developers had to issue a statement that the game is not about defeating monsters or something like that.

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  12. The painting depicting a warlock burning is that of your character's ancestor. Since he's actually a warlock, it stands that he's getting burned because he's done terrible things to the townsfolk. Can't remember if that's actually specified in-game or not.
    Also, try to at least get the hallway clear on the first level, you're going to be going through the first floor quite a bit.

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  13. The Adventure Gamer is presently on a reduced schedule. In the pandemic and the world that seems to be emerging from it, several of our reviewers (myself included) are finding it difficult to *play* games, let alone write about them. We are now aligning a group of reviewers that are available to keep playing and writing about games-- I know that many people find comfort in reading the work that blogs like yours and ours produce-- but at a reduced rate.

    As for "Legacy", it has been paused for now.

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    1. Sad to hear this. It's always nice to have something to read in the mornings that doesn't relate to... well, all of this. Your articles always serve to kill a few minutes of time enjoyably, which is more valuable than ever these days.

      Nevertheless, I can definitely understand if any of you feel it hard to write about trivialities at a time like this, with possibly your own communities being engulfed in current events. I will await your return, and hope to read many more Infocom recaps from you in the future. Stay strong, stay safe.

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  14. This discussion of horror games made me remember some Japanese game that Irene bought for herself but ended up making me play about 10 or 15 years ago. It had these ghosts that you couldn't really defeat but could temporarily drive away by taking flash photographs of them. I think the controls for taking the photos were complex enough that you could easily fumble them if you were unnerved by the ghosts. It was pretty terrifying. Can't remember the name for the life of me.

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    1. Fatal Frame, it appears after some Googling.

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    2. Not sure if that is Fatal Frame or not, because the Fatal Frame ghosts were actually destroyed by the magic camera (although they did respawn to a certain extent, which could give that impression). It really is a superb game, and the first two titles should be fully playable on your Xbox One.

      (3 was PS2 exclusive, and 4/5 were Wii/WiiU exclusives that need some trickery to play because they were not US releases)

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    3. Fatal Frame had some ingenious mechanics to enhance the horror element, such as how getting a "perfect" shot on ghosts (the titular fatal frame) required you to wait until they lunged at you. Later games like 3 introduced crawling sections (great for claustrophobes) and 4 made really insidious use of the Wii's motion controls, like forcing you to reach out for items on altars or in holes. Probably for the best that the series went defunct before VR became widespread.

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    4. Fatal Frame VR would probably kill people. Not metaphorically, literally. The first game and a half (haven't got further than that) were among the scariest media I've ever encountered, and full immersion would double down on that.

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    5. It's definitely Fatal Frame that Chet is talking about although if he remembers it as being Japanese it's possible he knows it under the name Project Zero.

      They're great games but they suffer from a bit of learn-by-dying and a huge amount of content that's both missable and which requires lightning reflexes to catch. That's some people's jam, but personally I got a lot of enjoyment out of playing the original in the PCSX2 emulator so as to be able to save-state and never miss a ghost.

      And yeah, they're fairly effective horror games, although more because of jumpscares than because of any particular success in sustained atmosphere and implication.

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    6. Silent Hill is also a japanese horror game and it scared the s*** out of me. This is the only game that absolutely has to be played with music on. No, please hear me out ;-) Not because I think it's so great, but because its essential for the experience. It's a weird mix of ambient and industrial like noise which has the deliberate effect of being very unnerving and adds much to the scariness.

      Also the enemy designs, the town which often changes to a hell-like alternative dimension version of itself, the disability to see further than maybe30 meters, etc. Great games up to the third part I think.

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    7. Finding it hard to think of a single horror game that would be nearly as effective without the score. It's like watching a movie on mute. All the best horror scores have droning, ominous synths or grinding industrial noises that really sell the atmosphere of dread.

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    8. PetrusOctavianusJune 5, 2020 at 5:49 PM

      If you're good you can create an atmosphere of dread without music, only using lighting and sound, like in some the Haunted Cathedral mission in Thief.
      Music just gets in the way of the sound effects IMO. Or it may spoil the tension by suddenly playing combat music when you are attacked from behind.

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    9. Most horror games don't really do "combat" music except in conjunction with jumpscares (like the famous Resident Evil Hallway Dogs) or bosses, just an unsettling ambient track. Properly done, it adds a massive dimension to the ambiance that removes a lot of tension if it isn't there.

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    10. For people who like Fatal Frame I can recommend checking out the DreadOut games from Indonesia, which are kind of spiritual successors to that series. One especially notable thing about them is that the monsters/ghosts you encounter are drawn from South-East Asian folklore, so they're a bit more interesting than your standard horror fare.

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  15. Personally, I feel like no discussion of early 90s horror games is complete without a mention of Night Trap. Not because it's a good horror game, or a good game in general, but because it ended up being a major factor in the creation of the ESRB, due to being brought up in Congressional hearings on violence in video games

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  16. The Legacy. I particularly like this one, partially because it's so unique. You don't really see straight-laced horror RPGs. Elvira games draped themselves in parody and pop culture references.

    To our host: Don't get demoralized by all the seemingly unfair BS the game throws you at the start. It's quite beatable, I've done it; the hardest part is the beginning, getting your bearings and acquiring the tools needed to survive. A restart or two may be necessary, but they should be early restarts.

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  17. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that businesswoman Charlotte Kane would be a reference to Charles Foster Kane (from you-know-where).

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  18. I can't play any game where things creep up behind me.

    This is rare in RPGs. Fallout 3 has a creepy moment at the bottom of a bombed out school, at the site where raiders are trying to dig their way into the vault, but the slaves were overwhelmed by ants - you hear their skittering long before you see them.

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    1. I couldn't play scary games when I was younger (up into my early 20s), and either avoided creepy areas or did something to make it less scary. I avoided sixth house bases in Morrowind as a teen because they had such a creepy atmosphere to them. I played the Ocean House in VtM: Bloodlines in windowed mode with visible window borders and alt-tabbed to a walkthrough before entering a new room.

      Nowadays I don't have an issue with scary areas in games anymore, but I still don't enjoy the feeling of getting scared. I can appreciate good survival horror though if the gameplay is done well.

      But since most pure horror games have pretty basic gameplay and average level design (since the goal isn't to challenge you but to scare you), I consider most of them bad games.

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    2. Ahh, playing in windowed mode is a clever idea! That extra layer of distance might be enough in a lot of cases.

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  19. For me, every cRPG that includes permanent level or statistics draining monsters is a horror game.

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  20. Aestethically ImpairedJune 5, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    Chester, could you make an effort to move the mouse pointer in a less prominent position in the screenshots? This has irked me for a while, don't know really why.

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    1. I have to be honest: this is not something I'm likely to remember to do. If I do remember, I'll do it.

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    2. Aestheticaly ImpairedJune 6, 2020 at 8:18 AM

      Thank you! You're doing a stellar job, by the way.
      Most of the time this doesn't even matter, but sometimes - it's like watching a painting in a museum, but someone's head is in the way. "It's ok, you can imagine what's behind." "yea, but ..."

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  21. I remember playing this, Realms of the Haunting, and Clive Barker's Undying all relatively close togther in time, and as a result they all sort of mish mashed together in my head

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    1. My 5 cents about horror games in general. This post gave me some thought about what games I have played are really scary. The list is short and includes mostly adventure games:
      KGB - not a horror game itself, but this is the scariest game I ever played because of extreme violence revealed exclusively through text. It was really creepy when I have discovered human carcasses hanging in a butcher shop.
      Gabriel Knight 1 - really creepy portrayal of voodoo evil lurking beneath New Orleans. But GK 2 had a werewolf as the main villain and GK 3 was just, well, odd.
      I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream - the Nazi camp part.
      Good that you mentioned Realms of the Haunting, it is very similar to the Legacy. I really enjoyed both of them and both have an excellent sense of claustrophobia.

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    2. Oh, Undying would definitely make my list of scariest games I've ever played. Can't say that RPGs generally come to mind for horror, although there are certainly individual quests or locations, particularly in the open world sandbox type of RPGs that have handled it well as a change of pace from the usual hack n slash.

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    3. Daggerfall can be somewhat spooky sometimes, although it's mostly of the "loud unexpected noises" variety. Skeletons are LOUD in Daggerfall.

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    4. When it comes to individual scary sections in RPGs, the Oblivion mod Nehrim (made by the same team as Enderal for Skyrim) has a dungeon that's completely dark. 100% darkness, you will see nothing unless you use a torch or light spell. Enemies can notice you even in the darkness. It's a pretty creepy place!

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    5. I will say there was also one specific interaction in Ultima Underworld 2 that just about shocked me out of my socks.

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