Tuesday 24 October 2017

Lure of the Temptress: Final Rating

by Alex

Strap yourselves in, ladies and gentlemen, and prepare for a tale of squandered opportunity. Deep down, I think that Lure of the Temptress and its game engine had the potential to be great. Not just good, but fantastic. Sadly, a case of the first-time yips might have gotten ahold of the developers at Revolution Software, and what we ended up with was a group of guys that didn’t yet know quite what to do with the shiny new toy they had created.

I LOVE that Diermot getting punched was used on the back of the game box.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you’d think I absolutely hated this game. I did not. I was more disappointed than anything because it showed flashes of brilliance. I will say that certain aspects of the puzzle design made it very cumbersome to play at times, which certainly diminished my enjoyment.

According to Adventure Gamer comments, Revolution’s later game, Beneath a Steel Sky, is fantastic and is regarded as a classic for a reason. I’m glad to hear that. Obviously, Revolution had great success going forward for a reason—hell, the studio still exists—but it’s heartening to know that its later games lived up to the wasted potential of Lure of the Temptress. I mean, they also produced the insanely popular Broken Sword series.

With that said, let’s get PISSED!
Puzzles and Solvability

Here is where Lure of the Temptress will score the lowest. That is because despite having a really unique mechanic for giving characters complex commands, there are only five instances where it is used: Having Ratpouch push the wall in the dungeon to open the secret entrance, giving Ratpouch the lockpick and having him open the wizard Taidgh’s abandoned house, having Goewin command the gargoyles to open the Weregate, having Goewin help Diermot turn the skulls to open the doors in the dragon’s cave, and having Minnow pull the drawbridge lever while Diermot turns the winch in the castle near the end of the game. Other than that, puzzles come in two varieties:
  1. Use an inventory object on something; and
  2. Talk to everybody in town and show them everything in your inventory until you get the right answer that opens up another dialogue option or triggers something else to happen.
Sadly, type two is far more common. Adding to the aggravation here is Revolution Software’s Virtual Theater mechanic. NPCs follow their own schedules, some of them walking about Turnvale instead of being in their shop or their house. This sounds cool, but when the puzzles require the player to ask everybody in town until they hit upon the right answer, it becomes very annoying. Especially when you need to go into the monastery on Blackfriars’ Row; the door is always locked and I was only able to get in by sneaking through when one of the Brothers was going in or out.

And even the inventory puzzles can be dumb. For example, needing Luthern to drink the liquor in the flask so Diermot can use the flask to store Taidgh’s potion of transformation, instead of, you know, Diermot just dumping out the liquor. And even the potion itself was a wasted opportunity to have a puzzle. Why didn’t Diermot have to gather the ingredients and create it himself?

Complicating things, the streets of Turnvale can turn into a cluster-you-know-what of NPCs wandering around and bumping into each other.

And lastly, when I needed Ratpouch, he had gotten stuck in one of Turnvale’s alleys near the beginning of the game. I only discovered him because, at my wit’s end, I decided to completely retrace my steps. The clever solutions from the order-giving mechanic aren’t enough to counterbalance these other issues.

Rating: 3

Interface and Inventory

The “Interface” part of this category, and if I were rating interface alone, I’d probably give it a 7. But as it’s coupled with inventory, I cannot rate it that high.

The interface is as easy to use as it is complex. This might sound strange, but hear me out. First, movement is accomplished just by clicking the cursor anywhere on the screen. If Diermot can go into a door or off-screen, the cursor changes into an arrow indicating the direction. Simple and elegant.

The interface shines in how Diermot interacts with the game world. First, left-clicking brings up a general menu, where Diermot can check his inventory, examine inventory objects, use an inventory object, drink something in his inventory, and look. “Look” gives the name of the room and a general description, which is very helpful and informative.

Right-clicking on something or someone allows Diermot to use an object on them, give them an object, talk to them (which sometimes opens up dialogue options), and give orders. Orders can be as complex as “Go to the Severed Arms and give Ultar the book and then go to the Weregate and drink the potion.” Sadly, the most complex command I ever had to give was giving Ratpouch the lockpick and telling him “Go to the Market Square and pick the lock on the abandoned house and then finish. It worked, it was clever and unique, but it was woefully underutilized.

The inventory was merely functional. The game offered detailed textual descriptions of the items, but there was no picture nor anyway to interact with or manipulate the items. This isn’t terrible, but it keeps the inventory system from being anything special.

Rating: 5

Story and Setting

Lure of the Temptress has a bit of a disappointing story. Not that the idea of rescuing a town from a rogue sorceress is bad, but because Diermot is such a dope. He’s a pathetic non-entity who just seems to luck into everything. There was some discussion in the comments about Diermot versus Roger Wilco, but the Space Quest games, at least to me, work because they were supposed to be comedy, and Roger shows a heart of gold and actually takes being a hero seriously. Diermot wants to be a hero, but . . . stuff just seems to happen to him. And he has no discernible personality.

The setting, however, is pretty good. I like the idea of a town being a game world. Turnvale is big enough to be interesting, though it would have been nice for there to have been a little outside exploration. There are the dragon caves past the Weregate, but that sequence doesn’t last very long. Also, there really isn’t much to do in Turnvale save talk to people over and over and over (and over and over . . .) again. As with much in this game, the story and setting have great potential but flawed execution.

Oh, and the ending sucked.

Rating: 4

Sound and Graphics

Here’s another category where Lure of the Temptress kind of shines . . . at least in the graphics department.

Soundwise, all I remember were some unmemorable tunes during the introduction cinematic, at the game over screen, when Diermot was being smuggled into the castle, and during his “battle” with Selena. There was also an incredibly annoying blare of something in Turnvale that seemed to happen every five seconds. I have no clue what it was supposed to be, or if my emulator’s sound settings weren’t what they should have been. Regardless, sound design is not one of Lure’s strong points.

The graphics, however, are good for the era. Impressive even. I like the hand-drawn nature, and while the animation is a little stiff, everything looks good, the backgrounds are detailed, and the cinematics are better than most of what I’ve seen. It’s a shame that everything is very muddy and brown. Perhaps that’s the nature of medieval villages, I don’t know. But compared to the bright fantasy world of Spielberg in Quest for Glory or the piratical settings of The Secret of Monkey Island—hell, even Future Wars had appealing graphics—Lure of the Temptress is second-tier.

That sunset, though.

Rating: 6

Environment and Atmosphere

Turnvale does present an interesting environment with an appropriately mysterious atmosphere. Why are all of these houses boarded up? Where does the Werecave lead? What’s up with that goat?!

We never find out.

Unfortunately, a lot of that mystery isn’t very exciting. The only house you can get into is Taidgh’s, the caves beyond the Weregate are rather unimpressive, the monastery is boring, and beyond some rumbling of a lack of food, Turnvale doesn’t feel all that “oppressed.” This is another case where Lure of the Temptress is all sizzle, no steak. Or goat. Whatever.

Rating: 4

Dialogue and Acting

Lure of the Temptress is so tonally all over the place, it’s tough to get a bead on what the developers were aiming at. I know that they said they wanted something that was a cross between humorous and serious, but they missed the mark on both counts. There were some kind-of funny dialogues between Diermot and Turnvale’s citizens, but so few were distinct personalities save Ultar the barbarian. And he didn’t do much but sit in the tavern and dispense a few hints.

The thing is, much of the humor falls flat because Lure of the Temptress seems to vacillate between wanting you to laugh at it and wanting you to take it seriously. The writing isn’t bad, per se. Some of it is quite good. It’s just nonsensical, there are so many loose threads, and the stakes never seem urgent. I honestly wanted Diermot just to leave Turnvale and its idiotic citizenry to their own devices.

That’s the crux of it. Every character was an idiot. Nobody was likable. Let the Skorl eat them all.

Or punch them all, as it were. 

Rating: 4

3 + 5 + 4 + 6 + 4 + 4 = 26, 26/.6 = 43.3, giving us a final score that seems eminently fair. I am going to use my discretionary point to deduct one on account of Lure of the Temptress just not being very FUN, giving us a final score of 42.

Sometimes you need to be harsh to something you think could’ve done better. And you’ve got to remember something here: don’t lie, people. PISSED don’t lie.

Contemporary reviewers were much kinder to Lure of the Temptress. Just scan the ratings from various Amiga magazines at this site: They really dug the game, with Amiga Mania going so far as to say “Every aspect of this interactive adventure is dripping with quality,” and Amiga Format stating “Temptress surpasses almost anything Sierra have offered, by being larger, funnier and a whole lot better drawn.”

Interesting takes. I’m sure at the time Lure of the Temptress was very impressive, particularly visually and as far as the interface went. But in hindsight, the weak plot and poor puzzle design drags down an interface brimming with potential.

I do not recommend you play this one, people. Based on what I’ve heard about Revolution’s subsequent games, you might be better off playing Beneath a Steel Sky or Broken Sword instead.

CAP Distribution:

100 CAPs for Alex:
  • Blogger Award - 100 CAPs - For blogging his way through the game for our enjoyment
11 CAPs for TBD:
  • Finders Keepers Award - 5 CAPs - For pointing out Lure of the Temptress could be found on GOG
  • When Barrel Is Not A Barrel Award - 1 CAP - For pointing out a crude joke
  • Straight Away Award - 5 CAPs - For getting the best score for the third Straight of 1992
10 CAPs for Laukku:
  • Sounds Good Award - 5 CAPs - For helping Alex with setting up correct sound for the game
  • Ignore the Pouch Award - 5 CAPs - For some sound advice on how to play the game
10 CAPs for Joseph Curwen
  • Psychic Prediction Award - 10 CAPs - For correctly guessing the score of Lure of the Temptress
8 CAPs for Voltgloss
  • Money, Not Seed Award - 3 CAPs - For telling us what groat means
  • Helping Hand Award - 5 CAPs - For checking a walkthrough to get a hint for Alex
5 CAPs for Andy Panthro
  • Straight Away Award - 5 CAPs - For getting the best score for the third Straight of 1992
4 CAPs for Trickster:
  • Daily Gossip Award - 4 CAPs - For showing up and telling what he's been doing with his life
4 CAPs for Kus of the Valley
  • History Teacher Award - 4 CAPs - For informing us on the history of "Arms" in pub names
4 CAPs for Laertes
  • Gambler Award - 3 CAPs - For hedging his bets
  • Thin Lizzy Award - 1 CAP - For good taste in music


  1. Perhaps Amiga magazines like it more because Sierra never went to any effort to take advantage of the Amiga's hardware and rather lazily downgraded the VGA graphics.

    Compare Space Quest IV's Amiga vs DOS screenshots with Lure of the Temptress's Amiga vs DOS. It's worse, but not AS worse.





  2. And on a personal note, I like that I finally got an award for the third 'straight' and let's not mention that one of the games in that straight was one I made up the score for.

    Am I saying I rigged it particularly so I'd win 5 CAPs. No, but I'm not saying for sure I didn't cheat either.

    I'll just hum innocently while I saunter away from this comment...

  3. (6 years later)

    I played through this game for the first time recently. I decided to drop ScummVM for DOSBox after about an hour of pathfinding frustration. After reading these postings on the game, I thought I'd point out some things that you experienced that may be down to bugs in ScummVM.

    1) NPCs don't seem to ever get stuck in DOSBox, as opposed to ScummVM. Ratpouch always follows the player and never gets stuck in alleys.
    2) The difference in pathfinding, especially with multiple characters on screen, is like night and day. ScummVM is slow and torturous for everything to resolve, while in DOSBox it's much more pleasant. This is the reason I switched!
    3) I tried many times, but I don't believe you can sneak into the monastery behind a monk. You have to wait until you get the book to get into the monastery. Probably another ScummVM glitch.
    4) Goewin doesn't teleport into the next cave room in DOSBox. You have to manipulate the skulls to let her catch up with you. Maybe this is another ScummVM bug?
    5) When you follow Wayne the Skorl into the shop, at least using DOSBox, he appears to end a conversation abruptly, leaving Ewan confused. I think he says something about it being a final warning? Anyway, it's an indication to spy through the window, which has indeed been an option all game and not something that appears out of nowhere.
    6) As has been mentioned in a comment, there should be an animation when you get carried away in the barrel. It's completely unskippable in DOSBox, so the fact that you accidentally skipped it is likely another ScummVM bug.
    7) You mentioned that the game told you every barrel in the cellar was empty. If so, that's likely a ScummVM bug. One of them has a different description and indicates that you can open it.
    8) It looks like another ScummVM bug allowed you to "solve" the drawbridge puzzle incorrectly. If you tell the Skorl to go to the cellar when wine isn't actively pouring out of the barrel, he'll return and hunt you down, even into the drawbridge mechanism room. You won't have the time to solve it and get to the drawbridge before getting punched out. The only way to solve it is, as you looked up later, using the tongs on the wine barrel.

    Honestly, your overall assessment is pretty spot on, but ScummVM is so problematic and full of niggles that I don't think it gives an entirely accurate reflection of the game. In fact, my first 3 points were mentioned as negatives in the Puzzles and Solvability section!

    I think it would have gotten at least 45 if played natively with DOSBox.