Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire
Video games have gotten big. Role playing and adventure games have gotten even bigger. With character attributes and equipment and free world exploration with infinite side-quests and massive online communities of people playing vastly different characters in the same online worlds, it’s hard to sometimes remember the roots of today’s masterpieces. Now hey, I’m not not complaining about where we’re at now, or yearning for a simpler time and “the way things used to be;” I’m having a ball playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood right now. Some of today’s games defy reality with how good they look (take this past week’s Skyrim as an example)! Still, back in the day, there were Sierra’s adventure games. I loved them all, the great questing in King’s Quest, the comic space antics of Space Quest, and even the slightly ridiculous adult overtures of Leisure Suit Larry.
Look out, this hero comes ready for the fight!
One series stood out above the rest, though, as far as Sierra’s games go. I loved the Quest for Glory series. They were ground-breaking: easy to get into, fun and excellent plots, character stats you could train, equipment to acquire, and a branched story line depending on what class of character (fighter, thief or magic user) you chose. They even had day/night cycles to contend with! The possibilities were (at the time) seemingly endless. So imagine how happy I was when I found AGD Interactive’s remake of the classic desert adventure Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire! In this second installment of the franchise, you re-assume the persona of the ridiculously blonde-haired anonymous hero from where he left off in Quest for Glory I, on his way to the desert city of Shapeir in search of new adventures. I mean, the brave hero pretty much defeated everything that was bad or dangerous in Spielburg, a guy could get bored hanging out there with nothing to do! Thankfully, some of the folks he helped out turned him on to some problems they’ve been having in their homeland, and the hero takes a magic carpet ride to see where fate will take him!
Free room and board is the just desserts of any real hero.
It takes a while to figure out what’s really going on in the Shapeir. Heck, it takes a while to figure out your way around! The hero meets lots of strange people: A kooky astrologer, a mystical enchantress, a fiery apothecary owner, a slapstick magic salesman, a slightly dodgy money changer, and a woman from the savana and her liontaur companion in search of help for their homeland, to name a few. The hero spends his first few days of adventure rummaging around the city and finding his way around. He learns about the city and the people, learns how to bargain with the merchants (a new skill), and makes forays into the surrounding desert to test his mettle against the local baddies and fauna. As he pokes around, he hears rumors about Shapeir’s sister city Raseir, on the other side of the desert. The rumors are not good. Something has gone wrong there, and the old Emir has been deposed in favor of a new and apparently weak-willed yet hard-handed ruler.
If you're a brigand, don't mess with a hero. 'Nuff said.
After a few days, things start to go wrong. Elementals (magical creatures created from the base elements of Fire, Air, Earth and Water) start showing up and threatening the peaceful Shapeir. It seems that someone has designs on making Shapeir follow the fate of her sister city! Lucky for Shapeir, the hero is here! As the hero, you save the day four times against these elementals, and earn the hearts and minds of the locals (no matter how much stuff you pilfer if you’re playing a thief). When all is said and done, Shapeir is safe, and the hero decides to get to the bottom of things in Raseir on the advice of the enchantress I mentioned above. On the way to Raseir, the caravan the hero is traveling with is attacked by brigands, but the mighty hero foils them all and finishes his journey to Raseir.
Right from the get-go, it’s obvious that things aren’t great around Raseir. There is no water, so locals peddle water illegally to scrape by a living and constantly work around the local guards who are treating the city like a police state. They also seem to know the hero is coming, and on more than one occasion he gets more than he bargains for.
The final showdown!
Eventually, though, he finds strains of an underground movement to take back the city. Before he can act with them, he’s kidnapped and hypnotized by a mysterious man who forces the hero to his will to help bring back an ancient evil that could threaten all of Shapeir and Raseir! Finding out what’s really going on when it’s almost too late is the hero’s specialty, though, so he ends up making up for what he was forced to do under duress in a dramatic final conflict with the mysterious villain. Victory! The ancient evil is forced back to sleep, and the villain gets his just desserts.
With Shapeir and now Raseir on his resume, the hero gets a lot of praise from both cities, and sets out on a new adventure. His job in Quest for Glory III will be to figure out what’s going down in the savanna to help the former custodians of Shapeir’s adventurer’s guild (the savana woman Uhura and the liontaur Rakeesh). That’s another game though, and this is where Quest for Glory II ends.
Yet again, the hero triumphs in the end!
I remember first playing this game and being amazed with the improvements over the first one, most notably to the combat system. It was a much more open feeling combat instead of being as “in your face” as the first game was. That also meant that it was a lot easier on the computes, which was important back in 1990 when the game was originally released on extremely slow hardware. Of course, I replayed it this time on a Core i7 so things were flyin’ along for me. The game designers also added a couple more stats to the character sheet to keep things interesting.
The poet Omar performs at the Katta's Tail Inn.
The game mechanics are important, but would be pointless without being wrapped around a great story and setting. This series is fun in that each game moves through a very different and distinct geographies and their associated cultures, and they just embedded their hero in those new locales; he spends a lot of time trying to fit in. The games show his progress through excellent cut-scenes and dialog. They also didn’t take their hero very seriously, by continually bombarding him with odd characters and side-comedy bits to keep us players laughing. I mean, the main Inn in Raseir was called the “Blue Parrot” and the hero deals with a man named “Senior Ferrari” there. Casablanca, anyone? That’s just the tip of the proverbial ice berg; the comedy is excellent, and it helps the games from becoming heavy.
Find your way around, this will help.
My only complaint about the game was the linear nature (which most games were in those days). This often made it so that you had a couple of days to wait for the next event, if you’d figured out how to pass the current event rather quickly. Oh, one more complaint, finding your way around Shapeir the first time is nothing short of maddening. Use the Googles to find a map, because you need it. Aww snap, I’ll just stick one up here.
These are great games, and if you’re young or were born after these games were made, you should do yourself a favor and download this free-to-play remake of Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire. It’s a true pioneer in the genre of role playing and adventure gaming, and it’s almost guaranteed that the people behind today’s successful adventure franchises and studios have all played these masterpieces!
Here’s a final picture of my hero:
Sulfear the thief. Dangit, I only missed 8 points!!