Sunday, 24 August 2014

Game 45: Quest for Glory II - Final Rating

I've put quite a lot of time into getting this rating right. Quest for Glory games are challenging to apply the PISSED rating system to, since some of the series' strengths (and weaknesses) are not necessarily covered by it. I've done my best to end up with the right result, although you'll notice I've played around a little bit to make sure I cover everything required. I'm sure you guys will let me know if you think I've got it right or wrong...

Puzzles and Solvability
As with all Quest for Glory games, the puzzles in part II can be approached in different ways depending on the player’s skill set. Notice I said skill set there and not class, as solutions are technically not limited to class. This open element leads to non-linearity, but it also leads to true role-playing. I actually found that the most obvious (and even logical) answer to puzzles was often one more suited to a different class. It even got me into trouble a couple of times, and in the end may have affected my chances of becoming a Paladin. I’ve been away from RPGs so long now that my tendency is to focus purely on the puzzle at hand rather than on thinking about what the character I’m playing might do. As an example, as soon as I saw the veil hanging from the battlements, I quickly climbed up into the Harem, unknowingly setting myself on the pathway towards the Thief ending. It was only when I stopped for a moment and thought “what would a fighter do” that the true Fighter solution became clear (i.e. brawn over stealth). I recall suggesting in my Hero’s Quest Final Rating post that the puzzles were a bit too simplistic, and that just about every fighter solution involved breaking or throwing something. I didn’t feel the same way whilst playing the sequel, suggesting more interesting and thought-requiring solutions. The puzzles still weren’t particularly difficult, but they often required speaking to the right people to gather information before then figuring out the correct way to use important items to reach success. As much as I’d like to, I still don’t think I can go higher than the 7 I gave the original, since that score was boosted by the game’s pioneering hybrid form.
Rating: 7


This isn't what Tricky (the character) would have done, but it is what Tricky (the player) would have done.

Interface and Inventory
The interface in Quest for Glory II is pretty much identical to the one found in Hero’s Quest. That’s no bad thing mind you, as both games give you the tools you need to focus on increasing skills, solving puzzles and unravelling mysteries, without the hassle of dodgy movement or a badly designed parser system. Speaking of the parser, it really was first rate in this game. Not only did it recognise the vast majority of my commands, its responses to even my pickiest questions seemed to be well thought out and executed. It was nice to be able to assume a way of thinking was incorrect as soon as the parser rejected a couple of commands, particularly after the nightmare that was Altered Destiny. I was able to right mouse click on just about any item in the game to get a detailed and often funny description of it, but I rarely used this feature since the visuals and parser gave me everything I really needed. It was only in the shops where there were stacks of interesting yet inconsequential items sitting around that I chose to play around with the feature. Motion was handled as well as could be expected, and the fighting, tightrope, and arm wrestling sequences were given just the right amount of simplicity whilst demanding solid player interaction (not to mention character skills) to be successful at them. When it came to moving longer distances, the magic map was both aesthetically pleasing and functional, allowing me to jump from location to location in a flash. My inventory got large very quickly, so it was just as well that the screen managed to display up to 18 items without scrolling. I was initially bummed that selecting an item within it didn’t give me a visual display, but I soon got over it.
Rating: 7


It was only once my skills were really high that I realised my inability to do certain things had nothing to do with the game's movement.

Story and Setting
I didn’t rate this category very highly for the first game (it got a 5), as I felt at the time that the player was really just dropped into a fantasy setting and told to go and do heroic things. My Hero played a role in something much bigger in the sequel. There were a few unrelated side-quests to get involved in, but the majority of conversations, quests and puzzles in Quest for Glory II made up part of the enthralling bigger picture. Unfortunately, while this would normally have resulted in a higher rating, I really need to punish the game somewhere for what I consider to be its biggest flaw. The amount of downtime I experienced, with little to do apart from grind away and wait for the next scripted event to take place was less than ideal. It’s technically a pacing issue rather than a storytelling one, but well, this seems the best place to talk about it. Not only did all this time allow me to grind my character up to an unbeatable level, therefore making all future battles completely pointless, it also resulted in me becoming just a bit bored waiting for something (anything!) to happen. What the Cole’s achieved in part II is still admirable, particularly when you consider how challenging it is to please both adventure gamers and RPG players. If you make things too open then storytelling is forced to take a backseat, yet if you really want to tell a good story, then you’ll struggle to avoid bringing in some level of linearity.  They toed the line in this game reasonably well, so overall I’m not complaining too much. A potential 7 will have to be a 6 though due to the pacing problems.
Rating: 6


Oh, and there are some serious twists in this tale too!

Sound and Graphics
I’ll start by saying that the music in Quest for Glory II is fantastic. The way Brayman and Seibert took the original theme music and gave it a Middle Eastern flavour was brilliant, and the rest of the game’s moody Arabian Nights tunes are no less so. Restoring to sections now, I realise how subtle a lot of it is. The slow, ululating tune in Zayishah’s home is perfect, and the streets never feel completely safe while the low, ominous dirge that’s overlayed with distant metallic clashes creeps along. Its good stuff and one of the reasons the game stays with people long after they’ve finished playing. On the visual front, the game did improve slightly on its predecessor, but not by the amount you might expect between releases in a series. The quick turnaround had a lot to do with that though, with the underlying technology having been modified rather than completely revamped. While this means Quest for Glory II can’t compete with the likes of The Secret of Monkey Island or Loom, its charm comes from all the minor details that the developers managed to put into it. Clearly a lot of time was spent making sure everything within both Shapeir and Raseir fit within the world they’d created. Overall I think the developers did an awesome job with the tools they had available to them, but unfortunately some of the competition of the time had already moved onto more advanced technologies.
Rating: 6


They sure did a good job making creepy people look creepy too!

Environment and Atmosphere
Quest for Glory II was an ambitious game, and it’s easy to tell while playing that the developers weren’t quite able to follow through on the original design. It’s a tale of two cities, and yet one of those cities feels rushed and incomplete, making the latter parts of the game feel a little less satisfying. The city of Shapeir may not have ended up being all that big, and was really limited to just a few useful locations, but it sure felt like a large, bustling city for newly arrived adventurers, with a seemingly endless desert surrounding it to boot. Gaming is often about perception, and Shapeir felt exciting and magical, even a little daunting at first. Raseir on the other hand was limited to just one quarter of the map size, with few inhabitants to visit and very little to do. It seemed a lost opportunity, and Corey has confirmed in his comments that they’d planned for much more. Enough said about that though. The individual locations in the game are well realised, once again perfectly capturing the spirit of the story. The various shops are filled with entertaining knick-knacks and characters, the service-oriented establishments with Middle-Eastern coloured cushions and curtains. This all helps to build the game’s strong atmosphere, with the fantasy adventure in the Middle East coming across at all times. There are few series out there that draw the player in as quickly and strongly as Quest for Glory does and I think the atmosphere in this second game is one of the things that made players remember it so fondly.
Rating: 7


If only both cities had this many locations, not to mention a magic map to travel through it.

Dialogue and Acting
I think the dialogue in Quest for Glory II is an absolute highlight. There was an incredible amount of it, and the vast majority of it is well written, entertaining, and at times downright funny. I had a running list of topics to talk to people about, and it was rare that I came across duplicate responses. The actual answer may have been the same, but each character delivered it in their own way, adding in little nuances and expressing their own personal feelings on the matter. The main characters all have their own distinctive ways of speaking, and even a few of the minor players are made memorable through their dialogue more than their actions (Alichica the forceful salesman and Keapon Laffin the crazed Magic Shop owner for example). Someone, I’m assuming Lori, must have spent hours and hours coming up with the various prophecies and poetry that flow throughout, and the game is so much better off for it. Speaking of Lori, the thing that sets her apart from the other adventure game writers of the time is that she was just as adept as making the player laugh hysterically as she was to make them shed a tear. OK, so I might not have literally reached for the Kleenex while learning of Julanar’s fate, but it was undoubtedly moving. I think she’s a very witty and talented writer that brings a feminine touch to her games whilst still pleasing the overwhelmingly male audience.
Rating: 7


This makes Quest for Glory II the only game without branching dialogue options to receive a 7.

That's 7 + 7 + 6 + 6 + 7 + 7, which equals 40, divided by 60 = 66.66, which is 67 when rounded up. I believe that's the exact rating I gave Hero's Quest, yet I'd given that game an extra discretionary point to reach 68. This time however, rather than adding a point, I've decided to take one away. As much as I enjoyed the experience overall, I don't feel I've adequately punished the game for the linearity of the final quarter and the pacing issues. This still leaves Quest for Glory II on 66, which is more than Indiana Jones and Loom, but not quite as high as Hero's Quest and Monkey Island.


Did anyone predict 66? Charles got it exactly right! It will be interesting to see whether he still feels that's the right score after playing through as a Thief. Congratulations Charles! You can take your pick from:

The King's Quest 4 + 5 + 6 Collection from GOG
The Hugo Trilogy
Space Quest 4 + 5 + 6 Collection from GOG
Leisure Suit Larry: Greatest Hits and Misses Collection from GOG
Police Quest 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 Collection from GOG

Now, after I collate the Companion Assist Points for the game in the morning, I will be taking some leave from the blog. My wife and I will be flying off to Thailand this week, but I also must admit that I've been feeling a bit burnt out during the last couple of games. I'm hoping that after some time away I will come back feeling refreshed and ready to get back into it. That may mean my next post will be in a couple of weeks, but it could also mean that it takes me longer.

50 CAPs for Corey Cole
Industry Legend Award – 50 CAPs – For sharing all the inside info

30 CAPs for JosephCurwen
True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – For playing the game along with me and completing it
CurwenPedia Award – 10 CAPs – For being a walking Islamic History buff

30 CAPs for Aperama
Shannara Award – 30 CAPs – For solving my Shannara riddle

30 CAPs for Charles
True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – For playing the game along with me and completing it
Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For predicting the PISSED rating I would give the game

20 CAPs for Lars-Erik
Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games

20 CAPs for Joe Pranevich
True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – For playing the game along with me and completing it

20 CAPs for Andy_Panthro
True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – For playing the game along with me and completing it

20 CAPs for sucinum
What’s Your Story Award – 20 CAPs – For sending in answers to the survey

15 CAPs for Ilmari
Meowwley Saurus Award – 10 CAPs – For winning the furry caption contest
Captain Planet Award – 5 CAPs – For correcting my elementary error

10 CAPs for TBD
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG

10 CAPs for Laukku
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam

10 CAPs for Raifield
Childhood Trauma Award – 10 CAPs – For sharing his strange yet very relevant childhood story

10 CAPs for Beraan
AZIZA Award – 10 CAPs – For explaining why Aziza was the answer to Aziza’s riddle

10 CAPs to MrValdez
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam

5 CAPs for Canageek
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam

48 comments:

  1. No-one wants you to get burned out Trickster, take as much of a sabbatical as you need to refresh your mind and body.

    Enjoy your time in Thailand!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A delightful game, and probably a fair assessment to reduce the score slightly. Amazing to think how well made it is despite the timing constraints (11 month turnaround I think Corey mentioned in a previous post).

    I find myself already looking forward to the third in the series, but it may take us some time to reach it!

    Have a great holiday!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know exactly what you mean about burning out. After serial watching over a hundred movies for my 80s movies voice blog, I couldn't force myself to keep going. I am finally feeling up to getting back into it, but ended up starting a new blog on Scotch in the meantime, as a palate cleanser. Worked like a charm!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sawadee krap, Khun Tricksy!

    Go go-go bar for love long time!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tricky is currently on leave and will be only intermittently checking emails during this period. For anything urgent, please email his personal assistant Kenny McCormick in his absence. If you'd prefer to talk to someone that uses less expletives, you could do worse than relating your concerns to Charles.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Have a great time - relax heartily!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What the [Expletive deleted]? I got zero [Expletive deleted] CAPs this round? And nominated for [Expletive deleted] Aunt Aggy duty? You [Expletive deleted] [Expletive deleted] [Expletive deleted]. Just joking, mate! XD Have a great trip!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes!! Yes!! After a grueling wait of 2.5+ years (has it been that long since Tass Times in Tonetown!), I finally get a score right!! To whom should I communicate my pick?

    Also, thank you for appointing Kenny and myself for deputy duty. He'll be the bad cop while I tend to people's problems. I'll have my copy of Dr. Sbaitso handy in case things get too personal.

    Seriously, have a great time unplugging from it all. Altered Destiny nearly managed to burn myself out too. Here's hoping you have a great Thai time and that you come back refreshed for more adventuring in unknown and fascinating -if virtual- lands.

    Here's an article I read recently that I think is apropos:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/opinion/sunday/hit-the-reset-button-in-your-brain.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. Spend vacation nice and grand,
    In the beaches of Thailand,
    Lay back and rest on soft, warm sand,
    Listen to some metal band.

    And when you've rested with your dame,
    Return to us with brighter flame,
    Start up a new adventure game,
    With your stories all inflame.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Trickster: You should switch genres for a bit to avoid getting burned out. We don't have an fps gamer yet, and I have a Wikipedia list of Japanese H-games. *starts running before Trickster gets back from vacation to google that.*

    Were to run to? I'm already about as far from Australia as one can get.... Short of moving to Alert anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Had I not been that lazy, I'd be willing to blog about every single H-Game available, seeing that I've probably already played all of them.

      Delete
    2. Well, if I ever want to read a write up of Monster Girls, Slavemaker or Rance I guess I know who to ask.

      Delete
    3. The first thing you need to do is get a catchy rating system acronym, Kenny. Like HORNYDEVIL or something.

      Enjoy your holidays, Trick!

      Delete
    4. You really only need three ratings: Perversion, Intensity and Gratuitousness.

      Delete
  11. Final episode of The Walking Dead Season 2 was just released, and both seasons are on special now for $6.24 and $9.99 respectively.

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/207610/

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/261030/

    Very good games - the first game blew me away, the second less so but still very enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
  12. And in my job as this blog's semi-official The Black Mirror fan, I should mention that game is also on sale on GOG for $2.49 and will be removed from GOG in a few days. If you want the game I recommend buying it now because the Steam version still has a game-crashing bug.

    http://www.gog.com/game/the_black_mirror

    There's also some other adventure games in their "Sale before these games are removed in a few days sale" if you want to have a look

    http://www.gog.com/promo/last_chance_special_promo_270814

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, they're about to remove some great games. Goodbye Amnesia and Desperados. :-( Wait... they're also selling movies now? o_O I dread the day when the site becomes Bad New Movies instead of the Good Old Games it originally stood for.

      Delete
  13. Another GOG sale. Zork and Sierra adventure games are 60% off.

    http://www.gog.com/promo/activision_weekend_promo_290814?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=game_subject&utm_campaign=attention_activision_weekend

    ReplyDelete
  14. Gold Rush is in the current indiegala weekly bundle, just under $2 for the next 17 hours
    https://www.indiegala.com/weekly

    ReplyDelete
  15. Finally! I have read all the posts so I will be able to participate in the next games. At least in the few ones I know about.

    ReplyDelete
  16. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2746321/Jack-Ripper-unmasked-How-amateur-sleuth-used-DNA-breakthrough-identify-Britains-notorious-criminal-126-years-string-terrible-murders.html

    Jack the Ripper has been found! Now, for the Zodiac Killer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should probably mention that the DNA analyst making this discovery is Finnish...

      Delete
    2. Now Frogwares needs to make an updated version of Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper!

      This needs yet thorough peer reviewing to be confirmed. In the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, I noticed that they use much more careful language (that the ripper's identity "maybe", "apparently" etc. has been confirmed).

      Delete
    3. I'd love to read a forensic biochemist critiquing the technique.

      Delete
  17. Holy GoG Sale batman!

    Sanitarium $3.49
    Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition
    Myst: Masterpiece Edition $1.99
    Riven: The Sequel to Myst $1.99
    Syberia $1.99
    Syberia 2 $1.99
    Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers $2.39
    Two Worlds $2.99
    Longest Journey, The $3.99

    Have fun.

    ReplyDelete
  18. And Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary remake is now available for preorder at 15% off ($17ish)

    http://www.gog.com/game/gabriel_knight_sins_of_the_fathers_20th_anniversary_edition
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/262000/

    Defender of the Crown (including both PC and Amiga versions) is also now on GOG, with more Cinemaware games incoming.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Among The Sleep; the indie adventure game where you play as a toddler trying to escape from and warn his parents about nightmarish creatures with his teddy bear side-kick, is 40% off!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Blast, I'm all caught up on advgamer. Now what to read...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Arrrr! Monkey Island going for cheaps! Arr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://store.steampowered.com//sale/talk_like_a_pirate_day

      Delete
    2. Flash sale on Humble Bundle! Gold Rush at the price of... PAY WHAT YOU WANT!

      https://www.humblebundle.com/flash

      Delete
  22. More adventure games (Blackwell Legacy series being one of 'em) on Humble Bundle! But you'd need to pay more than $5.74 to get them.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Whoa! It's been more than a month since Trix's last post. Is he migrating to Thailand for good? XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They have internet in Thailand too. I'm fairly sure that if he was going that route, he'd have -more- time for frivolous computer games than less.

      Delete
    2. Know what? You're absolutely right!

      I just hope he didn't "accidentally" found the Stickman's Guide to Bangkok. You guys don't Google it too.

      Delete
    3. I hope he didn't die a horrible, painful, death in a accident involving a marching band, a steam roller and a parade....

      Delete
    4. Some other accident would be alright, then? A tragic, fatal skydiving cord failure would be perfectly alright by you?

      (Nah, I'm betting that the constant blog gaming cycle is probably very hard to will yourself into. After all. Interrupting a game every hour or two to give it a writeup must get insanely overbearing, given a good game wants you to play it -more-, not less.)

      Delete
    5. We can just talk crap about him since he obviously can't do anything about it. Heck, we could hijack his blog and post about H-Game visual novels instead.

      Delete
    6. *Does a quick google*

      I dare you to write a full review of Monster Girls and post it here in ROT13 for him to discover when he gets back. ROT13 is so that Trickster doesn't get hit by ad engines for adult content or something.

      Delete
  24. Aperama: Obviously you missed the reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQts7E1FvrE

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dreamfall Chapters, the sequel to The Longest Journey & Dreamfall is now available for pre-order at GOG.

    http://www.gog.com/game/dreamfall_chapters_season_pass_special_edition

    It is also available on Steam (but no pre-order compared to GOG).

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/237850

    ReplyDelete
  26. I hope Trickster is ok and not *too* burned out; maybe you could post something here?

    Ref Quest for Glory, this month marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero, later retitled to Quest for Glory 1.

    ReplyDelete