Sunday, 2 July 2017
The Legend Of Kyrandia: A Flawed Gem
When the Adventure Gamer blog moved onto the Legend of Kyrandia, I was pleased. Another game I had fond memories of, and I was sure would stand up to a repeated playthrough. So of course I decided I'd play along, and make my way through the game yet again.
The first in the Kyrandia series sees you control young Brandon, as he seeks to return the Kingdom back to normality after the evil jester Malcolm has gone on a rampage, killing some and turning others to stone.
On your quest, you must wander through the land solving puzzles and navigating mazes, as is traditional in the world of adventure gaming. There's a limited mouse-based interface, requiring only a single click for any action. You also have a limited inventory, so you can't just pick up every item you come across.
The game looks gorgeous, and the music is fantastic. The voice-acting (for the CD-ROM version, which is the version I played from GOG.com) leaves a lot to be desired though, and it's worth remembering that this is very much the early days of such things. I decided to keep the voices off, but others might prefer them on.
The game leads you from one puzzle to another via the Royal Mystics, who give you a little information about your current plight as well as eventually telling you about your background and your abilities. Slowly, you gain a magic amulet which grants four magic powers. These are used to solve certain puzzles through the game, with some being more useful than others.
I generally like the characters, even if the story is a little bare-bones. Darm and Brandywine (a wizard and his dragon friend) are a particular delight. And the villain of the piece manages to be both menacing and silly in equal measure, as befits a jester.
What I have more of a problem with is the puzzle design. There's a big over-reliance on mazes, with three specific maze sections and a general need to wander around and explore your environment. This is made worse by repetition in the locations, and so the forests, caves and dungeons often have so little variety it gets boring fast.
The other issues with the puzzles include a number which require you to travel across an area and back again, sometimes a couple of times to accomplish your goal. Not to mention those particular puzzles which rely on nothing more than trial and error. I appreciate that this is done to extend the time it takes to complete what would otherwise be a very short game, but it feels like a cheap way to do it. While "pixel-hunting" for items is kept to a minimum, sometimes items are hidden in a way which might not be obvious at all, and there's quite a lot of useless items seemingly just to confuse you.
It's a shame that this didn't quite live up to my memories. I had gone into this knowing that there were a couple of puzzles that were difficult, but I hadn't quite considered the amount of frustration I would have all these years later. I also have good memories of the second in the series, so I hope those are not quite so misplaced!