Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Legacy: Won! (with Summary and Rating)

The Legacy
United Kingdom
Magnetic Scrolls (developer); MicroProse (publisher)
Released 1992 for DOS
Date Started: 3 June 2020
Date Ended: 17 June 2020
Total Hours: 25
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard (3.5/5)
Final Rating: 39
Ranking at time of posting: 310/379 (82%)
A first-person adventure game set in a haunted house, The Legacy tries to blend point-and-click adventure gameplay, with inventory-based puzzles, with the tiled movement, real-time combat, and character growth of an RPG of the Dungeon Master line. In the end, some design choices make the game not work very well as an RPG, and it has a frustrating interface. I still slightly recommend it for the satisfying story.
For me, adventure games usually start out fun. They tend to have more immersive settings than RPGs (at least of this period), so I enjoy absorbing the backstory and lore. I start exploring and mapping. I solve a few light puzzles and begin to feel good about myself. But there almost always comes a point in which I start to find the game increasingly unwieldy--a point where it has too many rooms, too many objects, too many puzzles, to the extent that even if I'm not technically blocked, I still start to feel mired.

I reached that point with The Legacy shortly after the last session. I can point to nothing technically wrong that the game did. It just kind of exhausted me. In particular, knowing that I was going to have to travel to other dimensions started as a mildly interesting prospect, then an annoying one, then an (illogically) enraging one. I mean, this mansion is already the biggest goddamned mansion in the entire world. Seven floors of it weren't enough?
By the end of the game, Irene was wearing a skirt, samurai armor, and a demon mask.
I don't often get the same feeling with RPGs, which is why I'm tending, towards the end of my experience, to think of The Legacy as more an adventure game with RPG elements than a true hybrid. The problem is that while The Legacy does feature experience and the associated development of skills based on that experience, none of the skill-building seems to really matter. Enemies don't get notably easier as you increase your skill with weapons. As for other skills, there's rarely a threshold above which you must build a skill to accomplish a task. Instead, each task has a slightly higher chance of success the higher the skill. So doubling your "Mechanical" skill means you only have to try five times to unjam that weapon instead of ten. RPGs tend to feature characters that grow more markedly in power. Aside from having more resources, my Legacy character didn't seem that much stronger at the end of the game than at the beginning.
There is one exception to that statement, and that is in the area of spells. The spellcasting system in The Legacy is so flawed that I can't believe the developers let it out the door. The basic problem is that they've populated the game with about 20 interesting and useful spells, and then they make you paranoid about casting any of them by making spell power a precious resource, reclaimable only (or almost only) through the use of a limited number of magic crystals.

There are times in the game that it seems like you have way too many crystals to ever worry about running out. But then you reach the lower levels of the basement and find a dozen or so magically-locked doors that will only open to "Key of the Shadow Lord"--and not just one successful casting, but sometimes multiple castings at the highest power. There were times that a single door wiped out my entire magic bar. The paltry two crystals that I'd saved "in reserve" turned out to be laughably inadequate when I started encountering these doors. Soon, I was wishing that I had never cast a single spell the rest of the game--that I had saved all my energy for those damned doors, and all my experience for improving my skill with the spell. When I ended the game, I didn't have a single crystal remaining--that's how close I came to not being able to win at all, despite your warnings and despite playing (I thought) conservatively with magic.

The annoying thing is that there are some great spells, offensive and defensive, that would have been useful throughout the game. A few tweaks would have created an adventure game with an excellent RPG-style magic system, such as allowing spell points to regenerate over time, or allowing the character to rest more often to recover both health and spell points. Instead, they made a game that would put a large percentage of players in a "walking dead" situation in the last tenth of the game.
The resting system is so bizarre, in fact, that I think it must be bugged. In 25 hours of gameplay, I only got explicitly tired once, and was only able to rest twice. It's like there was no difference between game time and real time. Similarly bugged is the food system: I was able to eat maybe four or five times, leaving a dozen or so unopened food items. I didn't particularly want to have to eat more often (especially since food is finite), but resting is a key method of health and mana recovery in most RPGs, and a true hybrid would have been more lenient.

The story didn't develop a lot from the summary I gave last time. The builder of the house, Elias Winthrop, made a deal with the dark god Belthegor to bind his family to service. Over the centuries, descendants of Elias, mad or evil, expanded on the house, made deals with lesser gods allied with Belthegor, and ensured Belthegor's return to the material plane every 50 years. The current year's event was meant to be special, with the last descendants of Winthrop's slated for sacrifice so that Belthegor could enter the plane permanently.
The areas of The Legacy
The game ultimately consisted of ten 20 x 20 areas, a reasonably sized "dungeon" even for an RPG. You have a lot of latitude in the order of exploration, and given that you find items in all areas useful in others, I don't suppose there's a single "right" order except probably to clear the ground floor and upper floor first. In short:
  • The Ground Floor introduces you to the game and its conventions, including your first crude weapons. Zombies roam the corridors; they're easy to kill, and you find a fetish that allows you to walk past them with impunity.
  • The Upper Floor starts to deliver more information about the setting and its story. The area is crawling with ghosts, who can be addressed individually or en masse through the burning of the painting that binds them.
  • The third floor is somewhat nonsensically an Asylum with sterile hallways and padded cells. You encounter a lot more trouble with locked and secret doors on the level, which is prowled by blobs of fire, giant floating two-headed leeches, and an insane relative in a straitjacket.
  • The fourth floor is a Museum (though not public) of powerful artifacts. You learn here the rituals that you need to banish the dark gods, and you acquire some of your most powerful equipment. There are many puzzles that must be solved by returning plaques and items strewn about the mansion to their proper places in the museum. Enemies are floor slimes (almost impossible to step around) and these disgusting crab things, the latter of which can be destroyed en masse with a ritual involving statues.
Returning plaques to the museum pedestals allowed me to take items on those pedestals.
  • The Mausoleum is full of secret doors and has the bodies of former residents of the house, most alive and animated as skeletons. Kill one, and it rises again the next time you trespass on its bones unless you use "coffin dust" (which is in limited supply) to destroy it permanently. You have to kill all the enemies to get the Golden Torc, an artifact necessary to win the game.
Cutting into a skeleton with a chainsaw.
  • The Egyptian Tomb is full of magically-locked doors. The primary goal is to summon and destroy the Karcist--the transformed spirit of the house's builder, Elias Winthrop. You have to fight your way through "sonic mummies," capable of damaging you even through doors. You have to summon the Karcist with the "Chinese Coins" you find on the Asylum level, and once summoned, you can kill him in regular combat or by first finding his heart and destroying it in front of him.
Old Elias changed his tune quickly once I showed him his heart.
  • The Basement has a variety of demons and supplies you with information and weapons necessary for the lower levels. One important chamber lets you create an artifact necessary for the final level.
Making the Eye of Agala in a basement room.
  • The corridors of the Sub-Basement are patrolled by the dark god Alberoth. You have to use an astrolabe (from the museum) in an observatory in the Egyptian tomb to banish him. There are also burrowing worm creatures to kill.
  • The Sea Demon Caves are the home to walking fish creatures that demand human sacrifices, and their humanoid "servitors." You have to get past the dark jellyfish god Melchior (I don't believe you can kill him, but you can get him to ignore you with the Golden Torc). There are a number of teleporters, including an annoying one that takes you all the way back to the ground floor, but ultimately you find the exit to the Astral Plane and the final battle.
One of the sea demons, which hopefully you can see better than I can.
It's notable that the game gives you several approaches for conquering each level. I adopted a more classic RPG approach and insisted on killing every enemy that could be killed, and this wasn't much of a problem after the first half of the game. I ultimately exhausted the ammunition for most of the firearms, but on a lower level, I found a chainsaw that never seemed to run out of gas (I was mindful to turn it off after each combat, which helped)--and there are three or four gas cans in the game. The chainsaw got me through almost the entirety of the mausoleum and museum. I then followed some instructions in the museum to perform a ritual that made the ancient spirit of a samurai appear and embed his two swords with magic. His katana served me the rest of the game; few enemies survived more than two hits with it. On the same level, I also found a suit of samurai armor that served as my primary protection from then on, plus a demon mask that made me look like a lunatic but also strengthened my attacks.
A little ritual provides the best weapons in the game.
But the game also gives you a way around most enemies. Sometimes, they can simply be avoided, as in the sonic mummies, which will leave you alone if you find and carry the "boom box" (remember those?). Sometimes, there's a puzzle you can solve to destroy them all at once, and sometimes there's a weapon to which they are uniquely vulnerable. For instance, the worms in the sub-basement die quickly from blasts of rock salt from a modified shotgun. But by the time I reached this area, my katana was cleaving through everything so nicely that I barely bothered.
Instead of fighting this servitor, I can make myself look like him by wearing his robes and putting a squid on my head (seriously).
While you get some experience for killing individual monsters, you get more from solving puzzles, so the game doesn't encourage you along an RPG mindset.

I misunderstood the nature of the Ethereal Plane until almost the end of the game. While I'd been seeing doors to it throughout the house--and you can open more by casting "Dimensional Portal" wherever you see a glyph on the wall--I wasn't sure what its purpose was. I wasn't even sure that all the portals went to the same place. I assumed it was some place I'd have to visit for a penultimate or ultimate showdown. Instead--although it has some monsters and one NPC--it's more a method of fast travel around the game. If you take time to map the exits (which look like cubes), you can quickly get from, say, the sub-basement to the museum without having to find all the stairways. I was only an hour from winning when I realized how the plane worked and I thus missed its benefits for most of the game.
The Ethereal Plane with one of its monsters and a portal to its left.
A few notable encounters and puzzles:
  • A "Magician of the Right Hand Path" named Charles Wenlock approached me in the Ethereal Plane. His "inner self" had been trapped there, and he needed to draw on my energies to escape. I said yes, even though I didn't exactly have a surplus of magic power. In return, he gave me some advice for surviving the Astral Plane and the final confrontation with Belthegor, plus a spell. The spell was automatically "implanted in my mind," so I didn't notice which one it was.
One of the few "role playing" choices in the game.
  • In the Sea Demon caves, there was some kind of altar on which a stone was surrounded by a glass shield. Fiddling with the shield produced a message that it resonated with a particular note. This was a clue to use a flute that I'd previously found to play the same note, shattering the glass. It was still difficult to take the stone; electric tendrils going up and down two columns zapped me if I didn't time it just right.
Something feels Lovecraftian about this level.
  • A juicy diary entry indicated that Josiah Maitland (grandson of Elias Winthrop) was poisoned by his wife for somehow "tricking [her] into marriage vows." 
  • A note indicated that an entire Boston Police squad was killed when they tried to investigate the sea demon caves in the 1920s.
The final confrontation takes place on the Astral Plane. Fire blobs are back, and you probably don't have a fire extinguisher by this point. Even worse, teleportation cubes roam the hallways and transport you to other levels if they hit you. There are also energy barriers that require an artifact called the Eye of Agala, which you have to make in a ritual in the basement. Finally, Belthegor himself is behind an illusory wall. My magic was so low that I couldn't explore the entire level. I had to take a save at the beginning and keep staking out in different directions, reloading if I didn't find anything interesting, until I finally found the way to Belthegor.
From the Sea Demons' caves to the Astral Plain.
Belthegor can kill you instantly if you don't have the Golden Torc from the mausoleum. Even with it, you want to load up on all the magic resistance items and spells that you have before you enter. I don't know if he's immune to regular weapons or just extremely resistant, but I was only able to kill him with spells. Fortunately, the final battle is otherwise easy because your mana bar suddenly becomes inexhaustible. You just need to keep casting offensive spells (I alternated "Flames of Desolation" and "Obsidian Shards of Annihilation," which is perhaps the greatest spell name ever) and pound away at "Elixir of Health" if your health gets low.
I ended up fighting Belthegor three times because the game kept crashing during the final cinematic. This was the easiest of the battles. I didn't even have to cast "Elixir of Health" once.
Once Belthegor is defeated, a brief cinematic brings the game to a close. A storm gathers over the mansion, and its ghosts are freed or sucked up into it, depending on your interpretation.
This is the brightest shot I could capture.
Demonic eyes and skeletal faces appear in the clouds. Lightning bolts and tornadoes pummel the mansion until it is all destroyed or sucked away. A newspaper front page closes the game, suggesting the character was able to sell the property and finance a lengthy cruise. As the DOS prompt appears, you're given instructions to give a special name to the final save, perhaps anticipating a sequel.
I think that's a little unfair to the police. It's not their responsibility to explain the noncriminal destruction of property.
When I was done with the game, I reviewed some walkthroughs for what I missed. I never finished returning all of the items to the museum, including a plaque for a shuriken and a demonic skull, but it doesn't appear that would have done me any good. The "Hand of Glory," lit like a candle, would have kept the slimes from attacking me on the museum level. Oh, well. On the Sea Demon level, I could have gotten the servitors to avoid me by dressing like one of them, and I could have gotten the sea demons themselves to avoid me by burning an incense. I actually intuited both of these puzzles from the available clues, but by this point I was having fun just slashing everything with my katana.
I wasted a lot of time reloading on the Astral Plane because I forgot to put on the crystal glasses Charles Wenlock gave me; they would have prevented random teleportation. There are rooms on both the Upper Level and Asylum level that I never was able to enter. I never found the spells "Iron Fist of Agatta" or "Swift Limbs of Mercury." And I didn't unlock most of the glyphs with "Dimension Door." I think it's a measure of a good game that you can skip some content and still make it.
In a GIMLET, I give the game:
  • 6 points for the game world, perhaps the best part of the game. The mansion is suitably creepy, the backstory (while a bit derivative) suitably detailed. I like the way that you slowly learn the mansion's history through scraps of notes, diary pages, letters, and so on. 
The game's epistolary revelations never get old.
  • 4 points for character creation and development. The mechanics are sound. I like that you can choose among multiple defined characters or create your own. I like that you can spend your experience directly on skills. I don't like that the latter stages of the game require magic and thus punish you for not having invested heavily there, nor that development in other skills isn't well-reflected in the game. This is not Quest for Glory, where you can choose your strength and role-play that type of character. With just a few tweaks, it could have been.
Irene's skills at the end of the game. Very few reached 50% on their bars and a couple never did anything.
  • 4 points for NPC interaction. Again, the mechanics are good, and I appreciated the dialogue options, but there are only a few people with whom you can interact.
Dialogue options with an explorer in the Ethereal Plane.
  • 6 points for encounters and foes. This was another strong part of the game. I particularly liked that you could intuit the solution to most puzzles, but if you had trouble, some document or NPC dialogue would eventually spell it out for you. The puzzles were varied and fun, though not as much as some other adventure games I've enjoyed. The monsters are well-chosen for the setting and have their own strengths and weaknesses you have to figure out.
  • 3 points for magic and combat. Combat is nothing special--hit or aim. The magic system could have been special if it hadn't been so suppressed by the game's miserly approach to magic points. 
Slashing mummies on the Egyptian Tomb level.
  • 3 points for equipment. Most of it is puzzle-solving. You get two pieces of armor, a couple of magic upgrades, and far too many possibilities for weapons. I would have preferred the game content itself with one firearm than to leave so much specialized ammunition scattered around.
  • 0 points for no economy.
  • 3 points for a main quest with some side areas.
Attacked by the dark god Melchior.
  • 5 points for graphics, sound, and interface. It gets almost all of those for graphics (good enough for what the game was trying to achieve) and sound, including (though I rarely rate it) a decent music score that accompanies the game rather than overwhelming it. The interface was mostly awful. Half the time you go to click on something, the game either ignores you or clicks on something else. The act of putting down a gun and equipping a spellbook sometimes took several minutes of fruitless clicking, often while an enemy was attacking. The limited inventory discourages carrying alternatives to most weapons or armor. Ideas like "document wallets" are only good if there's enough space for all your documents. Having movable/resizable windows isn't a bad idea, though I didn't make much use of it. Really all I liked from the interface was the automap.
  • 5 points for gameplay. It's about as nonlinear as a game with "levels" could be. As with most adventure games, I'm vaguely curious to play it a second time as a speed run, but otherwise I don't see it offering rewards for a second pass. The challenge level (aside from the magic thing) and length were just about right.
That gives us a final score of 39. That seems about right. I definitely recommend it for its story, atmosphere, and encounters, but in the end it's hard to call it a true "hybrid." Its RPG side is simply too underdeveloped, and some key choices that would otherwise mark it as a good RPG turn out to be illusions. 
There is nothing corresponding to that lower screen capture in the game.
Allen Greenberg covered The Legacy in the October 1993 Computer Gaming World. His review is mostly positive, though his conclusion is an unremarkable statement that some may like it and some won't. If you get a chance, take a look at his review (starts on Page 30). It strikes me as an example of awful writing, but the kind where it's hard to explain exactly why it's awful. Every sentence has an awkward or uninspired word selection, an awkward use of the passive voice, a joke that doesn't quite work, or more words than are necessary. I don't know; I may just be in a mood. The bigger issue is that Greenberg clearly isn't as familiar with genre conventions as Scorpia and thus somewhat misses the point of The Legacy, which is that it's a hybrid that manages to be a hybrid better than, say, B.A.T. but not as well as, say, Quest for Glory.
European magazines rated it in the 70s and 80s. The best review from the conventional selection of magazines comes from the December 1992 PC Joker, which praises the interface, the sound and spell effects, and the overall attempt to hybridize the two genres. A few magazines compared it favorably to Elvira, which I would agree is probably its closest "competitor." One German review (April 1993 Play Time) argued that too many items are scattered randomly in the house, hurting the game's realism. I hadn't thought of that, but in retrospect I agree. The point was made well in a more recent review by blogger Roland Zarate on "Late to the Game": "The mansion makes [little sense] as an actual house. There are hundreds of rooms but no kitchen, the only bathrooms are on the east side of the second floor, and a fair portion of the rooms have literally nothing inside them."
MicroProse bought and closed Magnetic Scrolls the same year that The Legacy was released, so there was no sequel. The manual credits Jim Bambra for the "RPG system design" of the game; he later co-formed Pivotal Games and worked on mostly action titles, his credits ending in the early 2000s. Stephen Hand is given credit for the "plot design" and "adventure design." His further credits, from several companies, are mostly action and racing games, with the notable exception of design credits on Warlords III: Reign of Heroes (1997) and Warlords III: Darklords Rising (1998). Just a few years ago, Magnetic Scrolls founder Hugh Steers co-founded Strand Games, which has re-released several Magnetic Scrolls titles for mobile devices, including The Pawn, Guild of Thieves, and Jinxter. Whether The Legacy is on their list is anyone's guess.
As for my list, we move on to Amberstar while I devote occasional time to finishing Final Fantasy but most of it to finishing The Black Gate. A Japanese eroge titled Mad Paradox just appeared at the bottom of the list, bringing us ever closer to finally finishing 1992.


  1. A Japanese eroge titled Mad Paradox just appeared...

    ouch. i hope you won't shy away from the 6-hour rule on that one!

    1. It seems that original japanese release date was in 1992., and US DOS version was released in 1994.

    2. Yes. I always go with the original release date as THE date for the game, unless the port is so different from the original that it basically constitutes a new game.

    3. I wonder if, hidden somewhere in the millions of CRPGs in the world, there is an eroge that will get an incredibly high GIMLET score. I highly doubt it, but that would be a fun read if it exists.

    4. If it has good RPG content and gameplay, and the eroge part isn't morally objectionable, I can't see why it wouldn't get a high score. If the eroge is the POINT of the game and the rest of the mechanics are just ancillary, as is the case in most of the games I've tried so far, then naturally it's not going to rocket to the top.

    5. What reviews I can find suggest that it will be rocketing to the top, except replace "rocketing" with "plummeting" and "top" with "bottom".

    6. I've been searching for an erotic RPG that's actually good at being an RPG for years. The results haven't been too great yet.

    7. I get the feeling most eroge is going to be Deep Throat quality, rather than say Fatal Attraction, or even Basic Instinct.

      That said, there are some pretty well regarded games in the 'dating sim' genre (Hatoful Boyfriend, Doki Doki Literature Club), so who knows.

    8. hRPGs tended to be the "Can't afford a console devkit and licensing" option, so they used erotic scenes to guarantee at least slow sales in the tiny domestic PC market. Properly developing the RPG mechanics and maps and such tended to get lesser priority compared to the all-important h-artists, so that side of things tended to be really weak.

      Visual novels also worked under the same priorities, but (beyond the basic programming that didn't need to change much from game to game) could get by with just an artist and writer (who could be the same person, and the "game" parts were all writing). This meant that they were very budget efficient, and all of the funding went to the core "mechanics".

      So h-VNs came out much better than hRPGs, and rather quickly exploded in popularity to the point where many got anime adaptations or were ported (sans erotica) to major consoles on the quality of the writing.

    9. @ Tristan, not all visual novels are dating sims or erotica, although examples of visual novels which are not those are few and far between. Equating the visual novel genre with erotica is like... I dunno, saying that all sci-fi films are action.

      Also, the two games you've picked out as examples are the two best-known examples (from recent times) of visual novels that have zero erotic content whatsoever. Snatcher and Policenauts are two others. The visual novel genre is also booming in the ultra-indie scene on sites like

    10. Well, it's incorrect to say that Snatcher and Policenauts have zero erotic content, but it's not the main focus of the games, isn't on the level of a typical eroge, and often got censored or removed anyway.

    11. Wasn't implying that dating sim games were necessarily eroge.

    12. @JarlFrank It obviously will depend on what you consider a "good RPG", but if you are able to like typical 16-bit Japanese RPGs or oldschool Wizardry-clones, there are a lot of those, especially on PC88 and PC98. Games like Dalk, Harlem Blade, Themm, Mime, or Jiin are not spectacular, but certainly above average.

      And if you consider Fire Emblem or the Tactics games RPGs, there are more: Dragon Knight 4 is a fantastic game in that style in my opinion.

    13. Dragon Knight 4 is what i was going to say as well. (This is the 4th game in the series of which Knights of Xentar was the 3rd)

      Ero RPGs were a brief fad that got entirely replaced with dating sims and visual novels, I think, although I'm not familiar with the eroge field.

    14. sengoku rance is actually a really good *game*, and the story and plot possibilities are well-developed, so maybe i'd recommend that to @JarlFrank, however the ero scenes are tedious and quite morally objectionable. the gameplay mechanics are a unique, somewhere between a lighter oldschool Koei game and a party-based TRPG. I haven't played anything else quite like it.

      if you like DRPGs (wizardry-likes) you could try dungeon travellers 2. quite fan-service heavy, but a pretty solid game.

      those can both be had in English.
      if you speak 日本語, you have a lot more options, obviously. I don't think the 'good stuff' gets localized too much in the eroge scene, except by fan translators.

    15. I don't mind ero scenes being morally objectable. I do mind them being completely non-interactive though. It's funny how games that make sex scenes a big deal rarely give the player any agency within them. The only exception I know of is Lilith's Throne, a text-only erotic RPG where sex plays out like combat, with different moves and skills influencing how good your character is at certain things, etc.

    16. @JarlFrank - well, sengoku rance gives a *lot* of agency (it even has a bunch of alternative 'timelines' and 'what if' scenarios) in almost every aspect *except* the non-interactive sex scenes, so it isn't what you are looking for in that respect. games where sex is the gameplay mechanic itself (rather than a 'reward' or whatever) seem a bit rare...

    17. @Anonymous: That depends where you look. If you include indie games, then Japan is pumping out multiple ero RPGs every week, many of which use sex as the gameplay mechanic. You have the whole BF (Battle F***) subgenre, in which sexual manoeuvres are your spells/method of attacking, for example (the usual story is that monster girls attempt to sexually exhaust you to defeat you in combat, or somesuch nonsense). There are games where you power up your allies with mid battle sex, games where monster attacks include raping your party, tactics games like Fire Emblem where you have to give birth to your soldiers during battles... Of course, these are pretty much all morally objectionable.

  2. Hey, congrats. Glad you avoided that walking dead scenario after all, if only barely. It does seem like someone forgot to carry the one somewhere with regards to mana regeneration, because why else go to all the trouble of implementing so many spells? Unless it was to encourage the player to spend all their mana resources early and screw them over later, which seems a tad cruel.

    I doubt it's on the docket, and maybe someone's already brought it up in a previous The Legacy blog, but there's a 1987 Japanese CRPG called Laplace no Ma ("Laplace's Demon") that's structurally pretty similar to this (it's even set in a Bostonian haunted house). I wonder if it was an inspiration, though between its obscurity and Japan-only exclusivity probably not. Sweet Home on Famicom is another similar case, though that's more of a pure adventure game.

    1. Hmm, I don't think they would have played either of those. Hard to tell if Laplace's Demon was obscure, its on every Japanese platform of the time, hardly something random crap would get. But the game-designing weebs of that time wouldn't be playing much imports, they're usually stuck with those that were localized.

  3. From MobyGames coment for Mad Paradox

    The erotic pictures are for some reason much brighter than the rest of the game's graphics.


  4. Obsidian Shards of Annihilation reminds me of a spell from the tabletop rpg Exalted called death of obsidian butterflies (creates and throws razor sharp obsidian shaped like butterfies so pretty self explanatory). Probably just coincidence but similarities like that always get me wondering if there is a link.

  5. I feel like Legacy's true worth really isn't going to show up on the rating here or even on TAG. Its not the best at either of its genres individually, but the sum of it is just so much more.
    Interesting to note, but most of Legacy's files seem very easily editable. Seem being the key word. They're all very unlocked down. I think one day a fan might just make a sequel.
    Also, I remember seeing that Legacy was on Steam, no idea if that company is related to Strand.

    1. It has a Steam page, but the game itself isn't available there yet, only on GOG.

    2. I've always been fascinated by The Legacy. It feels like a missed opportunity, but games were commonly rushed out back then. Still, just a few chabges and you'd have a proper cult classic rpg/adventure.

      Thanks for the entries, they were very enjoyable to read.

  6. As for other skills, there's rarely a threshold above which you must build a skill to accomplish a task. - Scripted skillchecks are generaly a non-trivial problem in RPG/Adventure hybrids and RPGs in general. If it's a random roll, than the player can just retry until he succeeds, as you noted here. But if it's hard threshold, like in Quest for Glory, the player just has to grind until he reaches that threshold - which hardly makes skill development more meaningful. And if grinding is not available, there's a substantial risk of creating walking dead scenarios. So far, the best approach I've seen was in another Adventure/RPG The Council. There it's enough to have a skill to pass the check, but the skill level (and check difficulty) detemine how much effort, a stamina-like resource, you spend in the process. But that game have a very tightly controlled linear (if heavily branching) progression; in a more free-form game it might still have run either into walking dead situations, or into meaninglessness.

    Similarly, character growth is also rather non-trivial and depends on how open the game is. I would argue that a steep PC power curve is also only possible in relatively linear games - or, more exactly, it necessarily makes the game linear because you can't tackle areas above your current power level. If you want true non-linearity, you either have to have limited character growth (so that no encounters could be steamrolled, irrespective of PC's level), or introduce level-scaling, effectively making growth meaningless.

    1. I don't regard linearity-checked-by-enemy-difficulty as "nonlinear" unless the combat system offers so few options that the player effectively MUST be a certain level to deal with the foes. With the exception of Oblivion, this is something I think Bethesda does exceptionally well. (They do have level scaling in most of their games, but except Oblivion, it's not absolute.) A low-level character CAN take down a high-level enemy if the player is resourceful and/or willing to put in a lot of time.

      Time and effort should always be the trade-off to skill. The solution to non-combat skill checks is to offer alternatives that take more effort. I don't think a spell or skill should ever be absolutely required to open a door, for instance. If the character has those skills, great, he's found a useful shortcut. Otherwise, he finds the key just like everyone else. The Legacy is generally good about offering such alternatives, which is why it threw me that there are so many doors that require that particular spell.

    2. Sorry--screwed up the first sentence above. It should have said, "I don't regard NONLINEARITY-checked-by-enemy-difficulty as LINEAR."

    3. I think the adventure-RPG hybrid has the unique benefit of allowing for either a brute force or clever puzzly approach. Adventures are about puzzles, RPGs about using your character skills. A hybrid can allow for multiple solutions based on character skills as well as skill-independent puzzle solutions that are harder to figure out than those relying on the character skills.

      In the example of doors, a wizard can open it with a spell, a thief can pick the lock, a fighter can kick it down, but if your character isn't strong enough at any of those skills there's a key somewhere that can only be found by solving a complicated puzzle.

      That approach would allow for playing your character in most situations, but prevents you from getting stuck by always offering a skill-independent solution (that requires more time and effort from the player than using one of the skill-based solutions).

    4. Disco Elysium is the best version of this kind of adventurehadventure rpg I've ever played. Skills really matter, and you want to succeed at skill checks, but there's always another way to move forward, and failures are usually just as interesting as successes. The game is very elegant in the way characters with different skills can solve problems.

    5. Disco Elysium only lets you try a skill check once unless that skill is increased. There's still a certain amount of randomness, and you can spend very limited increases to reset it, but it's also possible the skill check is just beyond the ability of the character, and you'll have to find another way.

      I didn't play it enough to know if you can get into a walking dead situation because you failed all the skill checks you might need, but I didn't encounter that.

    6. DE, just like The Council, is a fairly linear and controlled experience, plus is doesn't have any puzzles, so it's not really comparable.

      @JarlFrank, "A hybrid can allow for multiple solutions based on character skills as well as skill-independent puzzle solutions that are harder to figure out than those relying on the character skills" - as I wrote to Petrus below, that's more or less exactly how Legacy operates. The problem here is if you do the Adventure playthrough first, there's little motivation (except for self-imposed challenge) to do a proper RPG playthrough later because you already know all the shortcuts.

    7. @CRPGAddict, a low-level character might have a chance to defeat a high-level enemy, but no chance to complete a high-level area. Which in open-world games effectively imposes a certain order of going through levels - sure, you can tackle areas that are 1-2-3- levels above yours, but going 5-6-7 levels above is a sure suicide.
      Level-scaling, no matter how smart it is implemented, ensures that the power differential between you and the weakest enemy grows a lot slower than your actual power level. Which does make a lot of this growth superficial. Ideally, I believe, characters in open-world CRPGs should grow "sideways" - not acquiring bigger numbers, but differentiating their abilities, making them more flexible in approaching encounters.

    8. I don't understand the distinction you're making between "enemy" and "area." What is it about an "area" that makes it high-level if not for the difficulty of the combats?

    9. Attrition. You might be able to survive one high-level enemy with a low-level party, but you won't have the resources to take out a whole dungeon of them. Unless resource management in the game is utterly broken, of course.

  7. I must say I never considered this game a "hybrid". To me it was a one character Real Time Blobber with Adventure game elements, so if it's a hybrid it's more like 90/10.
    To me a hybrid is something like Realms of the Haunting, a game I actually quit due to a "Walking Dead" situation. I'm not convinced there really is such a situation in The Legacy, although I'm hardly an expert on the game like VK, having only played it once, so I may be wrong. My impression was that limited mana would just make playing a magic centric character more frustrating, not that it would be impossible to finish.

    I agree that the mansion didn't feel very realistic due to its size, but to me game play is more important than realism anyway, so it didn't bother me too much.

    1. I wouldn't call myself an expert either, as I also only played it once and it was sometime ago. Maybe a replay is in order.
      As for its hybrid-ness, I think all the puzzle-like ways to defeat enemies make it one. I mean, in principle, if you pay attention and figure those out, they largely override your combat skills. So you basically have two paths through the game - RPG one, where you fight stuff like Chet did, and Adventure one, where you approach enemies as puzzles and don't rely much on regular fighting.

    2. Not to distract, but what was the walking dead situation in Realms? I don't remember there being any, just a few paths that quickly kill you off.

    3. This is what I wrote about it 4.5 years ago:
      "I reached Chapter X of Realms of the Haunting, entered Raquia and found the Ring that Rasquiel wants. But when I enter the outer gates of his Tower, the gates close behind me and I'm beset by a lion which looks more like a mechanical watchdog. I can't kill it. I assume I have to give him a haunch of meat that is marked on the map, but both the outer and inner gates are closed, so this is Game Over for me. It reminds me of why I dislike Adventure games."

      And ironically I also wrote this:
      "Incidentally I did a search for the game on which is the largest general purpose forum in Norway, with its own Games sub-forum, and I was surprised how many listed the game as their favourite. I didn't get one single hit for the somewhat similar, but IMO far superior Legacy: Realm of Terror, though."

    4. Aw, that sucks. The rest of the game, while not as good as the first few chapters, tied the game together nicely...well for the most part. Hope you decide to give it another shot some day, even if it is counterproductive to what you're doing.
      I think the explanation for the game's popularity is because its the only good FPS/adventure game to exist. There's Azrael's Tear and the licensed Abyss game, but those are much less popular. By comparison, Legacy is akin to Azrael's Tear in terms of popularity, but has to contend with the much more popular QfG and Elvira games, among others that I can't think of.

    5. It must be the comedown, but lately I am finding myself too often in the place of I MUST SAY SOMETHING whenever I read about something I disagree with, as if it was some kind of insult. I need to meta that feeling so it gets out less often.

      Having said that, "It reminds me of why I dislike Adventure games." I really don't know why adventure games have that rep. It's as if someone said that they hate platform games because the controls are not responsive, or they hate rpgs because of the level cap: only the early interactive fiction games, half or more of the Sierra ones and a few more (Lucasarts pre Monkey Island, Kyrandia... and... ) have dead ends. For the rest it is a known design failure to have them so it is avoided, avoided as the controls lack of response on platform games, the car lack of steering on racing games, the lack of clarity telling where the enemy shots and the power ups are in shoot em ups, long etc. But again, it's adventure games. They get the worse rep. Mostly from its own fans that want to feel with them the same way they felt the first time they played Monkey Island.

      But ontopic: I bought Realms of the Haunting back in 1999, and actually finished without an issue... because I played it with the automatic object, so you did not need to select anything and the game did that for you - I don't think the adventure part of the game was worth it as it is basically a FMV mixed with Blood (the game). I loved it at the time, though it felt too long as well. And I don't want to replay it. Old school FPS had a lot of filler and I remember a lot of platforming sections that got on my nerves even in my teens.

    6. The comedown = the lockdown. Or the comedown because of the lockdown.

    7. Adventure Games are problematic; they are so...binary. There's always only one correct solution, while in a CRPG you can have 43 solutions to a problem. So shirley CRPGs are superior for a modern audience.

    8. Some of the better adventure games have multiple solutions for their puzzles, as do some of the earliest (like the first King's Quest).

    9. "Conquest of the Longbow" has multiple solutions for a couple of situations, optional puzzles, and different endings depending on your behaviour during the game (and your score I think). All without a single RPG mechanic. I usually lack the patience for harder adventure games, but that one was fun to play.

    10. @Petrus, I think you're overselling CRPGs here. 90% of the time, those 43 solutions boil down to what color sharp stick you what that goblin with.

    11. @Risingson: you are quite correct. Unfortunately, one of the best-known and best-selling adventure games of all time is King's Quest V, which is a textbook example of nonsensical puzzles, extreme linearity, and tons of dead ends. POIsonous dead ends, even.

      To be fair, KQ5 is groundbreaking in other areas, hence its fame. It's not exactly fair to the genre, but I can hardly blame people for judging it by one of the most famous games in that genre.

    12. Azrael's Tear is really just more like a real-time Myst than a real FPS/adventure hybrid. The combat mechanic is gimmicky and used maybe three times in the entire game.

      Realms of the Haunting IS a real hybrid, with an impressive size and scope and decent production values, really a unique game.

    13. KQV is beautiful and a game I don't want to get close even with a mop bathed in bleach. Roberta Williams God Bless Her Soul is probably the worst game designer in Sierra.

      I don't think that linearity is a bad thing. I actually prefer that, as one of the problems I have in most of the sandbox games is the pure anxiety "what path should I chose" gives me* . One must approach puzzle solving in adventure games as looking at what the game offers to you, take notes, share notes, just pay attention. Unless the game is too open or has too many objects (Discworld, Simon The Sorcerer) it's a relatively pleasant gameplay.

      I get what Petrus said, and I think Addict had an entry talking about how CRPGS usually let you brute force your way out via grinding if you don't get the puzzley solution, but yeah, the puzzles in Elvira or Waxworks, the riddles in Bloodwych or the correct key/gem/whatevs in correct slot of Dungeon Master and similars kind of tell another story.

    14. Sierra adventures are generally quite overrated. Their main draw was always the technical aspect. Their early games had primitive graphics in a time when most adventures were text only. Their later games like KQ5 had beautiful hand-drawn graphics and full digitized voice acting! After that they jumped on the FMV craze and offered some of the highest production values in the genre.

      The gameplay was, especially in the King's Quest series, usually quite terrible. Exceptions are KQ6 and Gabriel Knight because Jane Jensen is an actually good designer. Some of the Larry games are also decent (6 and 7 mostly). All the others should be played with a walkthrough at hand because they're cruel exercises in trial and error, with walking dead scenarios you can't ever see coming without foreknowledge.

    15. On that note, it's funny how Williams complained about the death of her genre in the late 90s because everyone is playing those mindless shooters, nobody wants smart adventures anymore. Her games always suffered from obtuse puzzles you had to solve with trial and error, pixel hunting for critical items that are barely visible, and frequent walking dead scenarios that could fire off in the first hour of gameplay and let you keep playing for a long time. Doesn't sound like such a "smart" genre to me, while the "dumb" shooters she complained about often had complex level design and sometimes even puzzles based on in-engine physics.

    16. It annoys me to no end that Sierra is so fondly remembered by some when everything they did was done ten times better by Infocom first. The only Sierra game I genuinely like, Leisure Suit Larry, was just a graphical remake of an earlier text adventure called Softporn Adventure--which, by the way, is both funnier and sexier than any and all LSL games to follow. (Except Magna Cum Laude, which, although a terrible game, was able to actually have a sense of humor and some god damn edge once the series was free of Al Lowe and both Williamses.)

      My favorite summary of the death of adventure games comes from Old Man Murray--adventure games didn't die, they committed suicide.

    17. I always find it funny that people keep trodding out Murray's summary. I guess some people have no imagination and can't understand why you'd add a distinguishing feature to a man's ID that you can copy. Its almost like adventure game designers aren't as stupid as people seem to think they are.

    18. It is not the core concept that is being marked in that article. It is the process being completely non-intuitive (the set of steps you need to follow are likely to occur to nobody), and the fact that what you come up with should not fool even the most credulous of children.

      If the puzzle in question involved a trade chain to get sensible fake facial hair, nobody would rip into it so much.

    19. That was an entertaining article. I've never thought much about what would make good puzzles in an adventure game, but off the top of my head, I think it would be a little like good dialogue options in an RPG.

      What I often like to do in games with dialogue options is to close my eyes and listen to what the NPC is saying, then imagine what my character's response would be, and then open my eyes and choose the option that best matches that response. If I find one that's close, I figure the developer might have used a similar exercise in creating the responses in the first place.

      Similarly, in an adventure game, I guess I like to see puzzles where I intuitively know the answer and I just have to FIND it. You see a locked door, you know you need a key, a pick, or a tool to batter or pry it. It's fine to abstract those things one level, as in a hairpin instead of a pick or a screwdriver instead of a prybar. What's not acceptable is to give me a dog whistle and expect me to know to blow it in the room with the door because there's a troll on the other side of the door and he'll open it from the other side if he hears the whistle, not at least without some other exposition (e.g., you can listen at the door and hear the troll, then later find a book that says trolls can hear the same frequencies as dogs).

      I don't mind if the game isn't EXACTLY realistic. I mean, most of us could ultimately figure out a way through a locked door with a more limited set of tools than an adventure game wants us to find. But putting tape over a hole to collect cat fur to stick to your upper lip with syrup may go a bit too far.

    20. The issue with adventure game puzzles is that if they're TOO logical, they're not puzzles. Then you end up with a game like Dreamweb where half the puzzle solutions are "shoot the person standing in your way." It's the problem of why Fallout 4 forces you to pick locks instead of blowing doors down with the literal nuclear bombs you are carrying, except made into the primary mechanic of an entire genre.

    21. Yeah, it's a bit weird that e.g. in straight puzzle games, like Portal or Baba Is You, one wants the puzzle solutions to be unobvious, to demand some creative lateral thinking. But when it comes to Adventure games, it's somehow "moon logic" and a design flaw.

    22. It seems like the difference is that in those puzzle games you pretty much know your entire possible moveset (move, jump, place portals, etc.) and the challenge is building an unexpected solution out of those pieces.

      In typical Adventure games it's not obvious what basic moves are even allowed out of a much wider range of possibilities and so you spend a lot of time just trying to figure out what actions are even possible to build a solution out of.

    23. Puzzle games are almost always entirely consistent with their interactions; and adventure games are almost always rely on room-by-room scripting. That means that the character's abilities and options can vary wildly by location, depending on what the intended solution is. In many ways that's the direct opposite of a sandbox.

      And that can give an "unfair" way of being non-obvious, which is where the moon logic comes in. You can climb THIS tree but not THAT tree. You can attack the giant but not the troll. The bear only shows up when you're carrying the fish. Things like that.

    24. I don't agree with that. Basic moves in Adventure game are clearly spelled out to you - most of the time, they boil down to using a verb or an item on a hotspot or another item. And the puzzles in puzzle games are just as scripted, they only difference is that in Adventure games the designer has to script what is allowed, while in puzzle games he has to script what is forbidden (or hindered). But the result is the same: you have observe and experiment to get an impression of how this particular scene works, and then convert than understanding into a solution.

      Granted, there are situations in Adventures where scripting demands steps that are logically unnecessary - like when you can break a window with a rock only from a close-up of that mirror, but not from the scene of the whole house (made-up example). And there are situations where the game reneges on its own implicitly established rules (e.g. finding the mountain fort in Monkey Island). But 90% of complaints about "moon logic" in Adventures are not about those, but about puzzles that simply require a little creativity and experimentation.

    25. The important distionction you're missing is global scripting (puzzle games) vs room-based scripting (adventures). An object in most puzzle games is guaranteed to act the same wherever it appears, and an object in most adventure games is guaranteed NOT TO.

      The result is absolutely not the same. And that's why adventure games often have "moon logic" and puzzle games don't.

    26. Not really. In Baba Is You, for example, objects act the way they are scripted to act in a particular scene - with the added bonus that you can rewrite parts or all of those scripts. A good part of the challenge in the game comes from overcoming inertia and dissociating the way things look from the way they function - e.g. realizing that the wall in this particular scene is not an obstacle but should be used as protagonist.

      Another example, in The Witness the regular puzzle mechanic involved holding round white markers to draw lines on boards. One of the later game puzzles has you hold the sun as such a marker and draw lines on the environment, completely breaking with the expectations.

      And the ridiculous thing is that Puzzle games are praised for this kind of puzzles, where objects have to be used in unexpected ways, against their "global scripting", while Adventures are criticized for it.

    27. Maybe I didn't phrase it well, but in puzzle games because I usually fully understand my options and how the world will react to any action it's possible to model and confidently figure out the solution to a challenge entirely in my head. You could just show a screenshot of the puzzle and players that know the game's rules could agree on the solution without the game to verify it.

      But in most of the adventure games I've played you can have guesses at what might be the solution, but you usually have to experiment to see if the game reacts the way you expect. The scope of potential actions is so much larger, but most of them aren't scripted so you have to search for the right solution. You can rarely be confident about a solution until you try it.

      That's not to say you never experiment in puzzle games, but that's usually because don't know the rules yet, or the solution requires using known rules in a way you haven't realized, or it's just too complicated to fully model so you have to try things out to break it down into smaller bits.

      The obtuseness is praised in puzzle games because it is fair -- the solution is derived from the limited ruleset even if you didn't intially see it.

    28. Asimpkins has the right of it. VK has clearly not understood that every object in Baba Is You is fully consistent between rooms/levels, and how this is not the case in adventure games.

  8. This may have been asked before, but is it necessary that a game should have some sort of currency and shops to have an economy? If a game has limited resources, like this game's mana crystals, doesn't the management of these resources count as an economy?

    1. I see what you're saying, but I think it would have to go a bit further than that. You would at least have to be capable of trading resources in the game. Otherwise, it's just inventory management, and that's accounted for in a different category.

    2. Dead State has a good economy and no currency, you manage food, morale, work hours and parts - but there's no real currency to use for exchanges with NPCs.

    3. Mechanically, an economy of exchanging gold for equipment that improves your character is not really much different than a game that allows you to exchange won ability points for new or improved abilities. It's just labeling things differently, though I guess you could argue that the latter systems rarely let's you sell abilities back, if that's important.

      I'd say that exchanging experience points for a level-up doesn't count because there's no real choice, it's just a progression. But when those systems get more complicated and introduce some choice then it's offering the same economy experience in a different guise.

      But, of course, the GIMLET already has a 'Character creation and development' category, so it's hard to say how that should fit in. Double count it? The issue is that the GIMLET is designed for a stereotypical CRPG, which works great most of the time, but has trouble with outside-the-box games.

      I'm not sure it would be better, (this isn't an anti-GIMLET post) but it would be interesting to come up with an alternate scoring system with categories that represented fundamental mechanics and experiences instead of their most common delivery systems.

    4. I guess the bottom line is that I like the clink of change and the glint of gold even when it's just a proxy for a character development mechanic. Typically, the means of EARNING gold is a bit different from that of earning experience, too: for instance, a game with a good economy might allow a player to get rich through thieving jobs, treasure maps, crafting, and investments that don't involve much combat at all but still add some fun dimensions to gameplay.

    5. As for how you could have introduced an economy into THIS game, I agree it's a bit of a stretch. But we are exploring a house, so it stands to reason that some of these rooms should have cash hidden somewhere. A lot of the rooms have furniture like sofas, clocks, and chairs. Maybe there could have been some kind of mechanic by which searching these pieces of furniture carefully would produce some cash.

      As for how to spend it, there's nothing about the game that inherently requires the player to be trapped in the house, not as long as you assume she's committed to solving the mystery. You could thus turn the front door into some kind of a "menu store" (which assumes the player has left, driven into town, etc.), trading cash for some of the nonrenewable items whose shortage causes so much angst in this game, such as first aid kits, food, magic crystals, and ammunition. Maybe even offer a pawn shop where unneeded items could be sold (and ideally repurchased if you determine you need them for a puzzle). Hell, replace the entire "safe bed" system the game uses (which makes little sense) with the option to spend the night at the local hotel and renew hit points and magic points.

    6. I see the GIMLET is flawed post popping up now and then in the comment section and would just like to say, from my personal opinion, it is an excellent grader of games for this blog and changing it would lead to nothing good.

    7. That isn't an opinion I hear very often, so I appreciate it.

    8. I think the GIMLET is just fine, no need to change anything. My question was 100% out of curiosity and I got a clear answer (especially with the phrase "I like the clink of change and the glint of gold" - somehow that makes money and stores sound like fun).

    9. I think the ideal RPG features interdependence between the three kinds of resources: XP, Gear, and Gold. The ability to spend gold to either get new gear or train a character (which often changes the relative value of gear) makes for interesting decisions.

      And I think that the three of these amount to 30% of the gimlet sounds pretty reasonable - even when ultimately its all just 'character development'.

    10. I'm not sure about 'ideal', but it certainly is a very common pattern that often works well. But while character development is essential for an RPG, I think it's possible to represent it through a very different mix of systems (at least nominally) and have that work well too.

      In other words, the 'economic' points in question shouldn't need to clink or glint anymore than combat needs swords. What's important is that you accumulate the points into a pool as a reward for actions taken and you have opportunities to trade those points for a selection from a variety of differently priced advantages. That's the core of the system that delivers the fun and the interesting decisions whether you call it gold or karma points or anything else.

      This isn't an overthrow-the-GIMLET post, because it works fine. I'm just wondering aloud how to better get at the core mechanics through the genre conventions they are dressed up in.

    11. Yeah, by ‘ideal’ I kinda meant the notional ideal implied by the gimlet. I agree that the gold doesn’t have to clink, per se, but that there’s something appealing about having multiple axes of development.

      Dead State has food, parts, fuel, morale and ‘hours’, various combinations of which can be used to generate stat boosts, consumables, gear, or implicitly converted to other kinds of resources - and the way you develop your character changes the relative values of various things you might want to pursue. One of the best economies in RPGs imo, and yet no currency. Importantly, I think the ‘economic’ considerations need to be dependent on decisions you make during ‘level ups’.

    12. Economy: one of the perks of a good economy in an RPG is it's a different vector you can grind. Experience/levels don't have to be the answer to everything, or maybe going after the gold is more fun or less aggravating, or just adds variety or replay value by offering different paths to the goals.

      Gimlet: I've been thinking I really, really look forward to the day we see something that's rated over 90, assuming there's a game out there that would earn it. The gimlet posits this "ideal game" that ought to exist, but especially going chronologically it's an extremely long waiting game to see if or where the RPG will peak, or how close to ultimate glory the candidates will come. I appreciate the history, but I'm also dying to know when we're going to crack 70, 80, 90, or how close to the ceiling the best entries in the genre will get. I want to see something that, at least from the numbers, we can pin a blue ribbon on it and call it "a masterpiece."

      Yeah, I know, there's plenty of "best RPGs of all time" lists out there, and I can play whatever I want. I guess after a decade I've just gotten attached to the context of the gimlet, and would like to see something that is a paragon of the system.

    13. Yeah, this is exactly what I was trying to get at. A good RPG should have multiple axes of development and they shouldn't all work the same. But an imaginative RPG could deliver that in very different packaging.

      @Quirkz I was wondering if you could see eras based on when certain scores were reached. The primitive 70's top out in the 30s, the first half of the 80's are almost the same with the exception of one score in the 50s, but by the second half the 80's we have multiple 50s and 60s and the current high score at 69. So far the 90s hasn't topped that, but it probably will.

  9. It looks to me like a good attempt at a difficult challenge - the adventure-RPG hybrid. Its failings should inspire developers to do better.

    Big disagree with your assessment of Allen Greenberg's review. Yes, he is certainly pounding a passive super-objective voice as far as it will go - but I think he does it quite well.

    1. I dunno, I feel like it somehow manages to be dry and full of forced 'wit' at the same time.

      Also needed another editing pass.

      "There are several times more objects to be found in the Winthrop mansion than the player may carry at one time".


  10. Perhpas the size of the mansion could be rationalized given all the involvement of dark gods in its backstory. Perhaps its geometry has become non-Euclidean (like that of Lovecraft's R'lyeh) during its history due to all the magic used in it (whether deliberately planned so by some Winthrops or accidentally). It could be bigger on the inside than outside (like the TARDIS)!

  11. Jim Bambra and Stephen Hand! Bambra was quite prolific in the tabletop games industry, writing a number of Dungeons & Dragons adventures, including the well-regarded Night's Dark Terror. He also wrote for the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay line for Games Workshop, and co-authored one of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks with Stephen Hand. Hand went on to write a couple more in that series without Bambra. All three of those FF gamebooks had a dark horror feel, and Bambra's rpg work leaned that way, so I'm not surprised that the pair worked on a horror-themed computer game.

    1. Thanks! It didn't occur to me to look them up outside of their ludographies.

    2. Stephen Hand designed many of the classic 80s Games Workshop boardgames (Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Chainsaw Warrior...), his games are very horror-oriented, with a high level of randomness (but that's more of a Games Workshop thing than him personally I think).

      His best game, Fury of Dracula is absolutely fantastic though, it's a classic, one of the few 80s boardgames that regularly get reprinted.

      You'll find a lot more tabletop veterans working in videogames as you go forward as more and more make the jump (you probably already mentioned Sandy Petersen in your Darklands posts, I haven't read those yet)

    3. Oh yes, I'm not sure why I didn't include Hand's board games above; I was thinking about them as I was typing! Fury of Dracula is superb.

  12. Here's all the Mac games that weren't on your list, courtesy of Macintosh Garden and Macintosh Repository.
    -Scarab of Ra
    -Teltnuag IIa
    -Sordoth's Castle
    -Curse of Vengeance
    -Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete
    -MacRogue (Not sure if this expands on the traditional Rogue)
    -UMoria 5.4 (Same as above)
    -Prince of Destruction (+ the MARS Scenario Builder Tools)
    -Arena Games
    -Dragon Maze
    -Star Seed
    -Mortalus: The Quest for Immortality
    -The Trials of Achenar
    -Shattered Stone
    -Fawn II
    -Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire
    -aGORA: Soul of the Oracle
    -Battlin' Babe
    -Jewel of Arabia: Dreamers
    -Squirt Derby
    -Dragon Park (not sure if in English)

    In addition, Darkwood has version 2.5 uploaded just this January. Featuring character creation and perhaps other changes...

    1. I'm fairly sure I dumped those games on Chet at some point already. He didn't put them in the list yet? Shame! :p

    2. I think he's put off putting the games from that thread on the list because he doesn't want to read what I dumped on him a year ago. :D
      Also, Mortalus isn't an RPG, its an adventure game that has combat. Some kind of weird crossbow shooting game and a duel system. It might have increasing health, but that's it.

    3. I haven't added them to the list because I don't want to encourage readers to find databases and lists of RPGs and compare my master list to them and then send me their findings. That does not help me.

      I WILL take individual recommendations for games when the commenter has personal experience with them and can attest that they meet my three criteria. Otherwise, I have my own process for adding new games to the list, but I'm not going to disclose how it works because it encourages people to try to assist me.

    4. At least one of those was on the list previously (Scarab of Ra) and I advised Chet to take it off as it's not actually a RPG in any way.

    5. Okay, that makes sense, but you never addressed Lords of Magic or my second statement on Iron Seed. Those were from personal experience.

    6. Wait, if people playtested the games for you would that be fine with you?

    7. I don't thin any of the first 7 games on this list are RPGs by my definitions except Theldrow which is on my list. I guess maybe Sordoth's Castle counts, but it's just another Wizard's Castle variant that we've already seen a thousand times. I've already considered some of the others--when looking at my master list, you need to turn off the filter on "Play List" to include the "N" entries, so you can see the ones I rejected like Minotaur and Teltnuag Ila. You also need to check multiple years because sometimes my research led me to a different release year that what Macintosh Garden or Macintosh Repository have.

      The bottom line is that neither database has proved itself accurate enough in the use of "RPG" for me to trust them on the surface. If it's really important to you to add a bunch of games to my list and you really want to download and play them long enough to ensure that they meet my definitions, I won't try to stop you. But I think it's worth asking what it's all about, Alfie.

    8. Just checked the list again because I was sure Chet added some of these when I pointed them out. Jewel of Arabia Dreamers is already in the list, so you haven't done a good job searching through it, P-Tux ;)

  13. Im not sure about the walking dead part actually.
    I mean, we hran into the same problems and bbarely made it...
    but just after we finished we tried the astro plane as well (like you we thought that is something for "later" ) and there was a part that was stuffed with magic crystals. IIRC there was one evry 5 steps or so. With that hoard it shouldnt have been a problem...

    1. Obviously, I didn't find that or I would have mentioned it. Was it in the Ethereal Plane or the Astral Plane?

    2. IIRC it was the place that you reach by putting the notes on the piano. But since its been a while, Ill try to get confirmation by my brother who has replayed since then. If he knows better, Ill update this.

  14. ohhh we are getting into the times I actively remember. That 1993 issue of Play Time mentioned was the first video game magazine I bought.

  15. It sounds like Legacy could be remake-worthy. With modern graphics and some updated mechanics, this might still be an excellent game today.

    1. "Magnetic Scrolls founder Hugh Steers co-founded Strand Games, which has re-released several Magnetic Scrolls titles for mobile devices, including The Pawn, Guild of Thieves, and Jinxter. Whether The Legacy is on their list is anyone's guess."

      Apparently not: In a forum on the Strand Games site, Hugh Steers stated he doesn't think they have the right(s) to remaster Legacy:

  16. The Advgamer blog has just finished playing and rating this game. Funnily enough, while Chet concludes that it's not an RPG but an adventure game, Advgamer concludes that it is NOT an adventure game, but an RPG.

    It gets a really low score of 24 out of 100, in the bottom 10% of games played on that blog, along with such games as Hugo's House of Horrors and the Oregon Trail.

    1. That's interesting. I thought it under-performed as an RPG, but I tried to leave it open that an adventure gamer might like it. I guess not.


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