Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Quest for Glory I - Final Rating

Time to rate the game!

I had a bit more to think about when rating this game as opposed to others. In particular, I compared it with the original Hero's Quest, other Sierra VGA remakes and my own previous ratings to ensure the rating is somewhat consistent.


Which version will score better?

I also asked for my fellow reviewers’ help when my first ratings came out a lot lower than I’d expected. They’d pointed out a few things I hadn’t considered and as a consequence the final score ended up a little higher… still nowhere near as high as everyone anticipated (Sorry, Corey.) I largely put this down to my total lack of nostalgia when it comes to this game and series. The last few months have been my first interaction with Quest for Glory and it shows in the way I haven’t been as blown away by this game as most people who played the series in the 80s and 90s were.

So let's see what I came up with...


Puzzles and Solvability: 7

I was impressed with the puzzles in this game. I remarked in my King's Quest V final rating that you aren't so much deliberately solving puzzles as you are picking up things and touching them on other things.

This game is a definite step up, in that I was regularly specifically attempting to do something to solve a problem I knew existed.

So the game's already looking good in this respect. What really brings this game up in the rating are the multiple solutions to some puzzles. Not all puzzles have alternate solutions, but enough of them do that the three different characters feel totally different to play. I LOVED this!

As an example: The Bear/Kobold cave. The ogre outside is a bit of a disappointment in this part. You can fight him or walk past him. The thief, even with 100 sneak skill, can't sneak past him. The mage can 'calm' him though, but walking past him is easy enough that it isn't necessary unless you want to mindlessly increase your 'calm' spell skill (which I most definitely did)

The bear inside: again, a bit of a disappointment that my thief couldn't sneak past the bear. You could argue that the bear's sense of smell is the reason no amount of sneak skill suffices, but that's just me retconning – if that was the theory behind it the game would certainly have mentioned it. Again, the mage can 'calm' the bear, and any of the characters could simply give the bear a very cheaply purchased apple.

Hmmm. It's not sounding as excellent as I recall. Oh well, let's get to the kobold.
  • THIEF: I snuck up to the kobold to steal his key, then picked the lock of his treasure chest, disarming the trap in the process.

  • MAGIC-USER: While standing at the entrance, I 'fetch'ed the key from the kobold's neck, cast 'detect spell' on the room to show me the treasure chest, then cast 'open' on the chest to open it and disarm the trap.

  • FIGHTER: I walked up to the kobold and hit it with my sword, continuing to do so until he died. Then I hit the chest with my sword, opening it and letting off the explosion trap in the process, which I survived due to my high hit point count.

Now that’s what I like to see. There were quite a few puzzles like that, which I enjoyed. Another good reason the game scores highly in this category – you are never forced to play a particular way – if my thief wants to fight the kobold, he's welcome to it – if the fighter wanted to sneak and had put points in sneak at character creation, he could do it!

All in all, some excellent puzzle designing.

And now for the downside. Many of the puzzles in the game can/must be solved by increasing your skills before trying something. This brings us to the boring grinding of skills. I had my trusty coffee cup to help me avoid being bored too much by that, but I did find it tedious on many occasions while playing, and being bored enough to try having an inanimate object helping me with a puzzle doesn’t bode well for this category.

I mentioned in my playthrough that the existence of skill levels in puzzle solving necessitates grinding. Even if I never need an ‘Open’ spell skill level above 40, I have no way of knowing that, so I spend hours of playtime increasing the open skill closer to the 100 skill maximum. 

Even my example of great puzzle design above requires high skill levels to succeed. A low ‘fetch’ spell skill has the kobold wake up and kill me. A low ‘open’ spell skill has the chest trap explode, waking the kobold. A low ‘sneak’ skill has the kobold wake up. A low ‘pick locks’ skill has the trap going off and possibly killing me while the kobold wakes up. Low fighting skills have my fighter dead before he can kill the kobold.

Having dead-ends just makes the situation even worse. If I do something that results in my character being unable to continue the game, and have spent, let’s say, 4.5 hours since that point practicing my skills to get them good, it’s even worse than another adventure game where I can replay the parts I’ve missed in less than an hour after knowing exactly what I need to do.

Without the dead-ends and skill grinding I’d give this game an 8 out of 10! The original game got a 7, and Trickster mentioned that he didn't think much of the puzzles in general, which I can understand but in my experience, I found them much more compelling, or perhaps I just had lower standards considering the games I've played here recently. I suspect if Trickster had played the entire game as all three characters this score might have been an 8 or so, as the fighter's puzzle solving variety consisted largely of either 'hit it with a sword' or 'hit it with a rock'

But the dead-end/s and required skill levels combine to waste too much time that could could have been spent solving puzzles or otherwise having fun, so I’ll take a point off here, leaving us with the same score Trickster gave the original. 7.


Interface and Inventory: 5

The interface is your normal Sierra VGA one. You can right-click to cycle between the available options, or move your mouse to the top of the screen to pause the game while you select from the options.

This game also has a few extra options from your normal Sierra game:

It has the dialogue screen where you can choose from a list of subjects to ask about, which has the annoyance of finishing the dialogue each time, making you use your 'lips' icon on the character many times to ask them about each subject.

It has an extra level of options when you click on the diamond-shaped icon, which gives you the three different forms of movement (walking, running and sneaking) the sleep/rest icon, the character statistics icon and the tell me the time icon.

There is also the magic section which lets you choose your spells for casting, or look at your current level of a certain spell.

The magic section of the combat screen contains the 'run away' option. I use that option a lot.

And a screen you'll likely spend a lot of time on, the combat screen. This screen seems like a lot of tactics are involved, but in my experience, just attacking seems like the most effective tactic – it's entirely possible that perfect timing makes dodging/parrying more useful, but as I was never able to time it perfectly, it just seemed to waste my stamina.

The inventory screen is also typical Sierra. You can get small descriptions of your items – mostly useful to check how much money is in your pouch.

There’s also a separate screen for the Mage’s Maze and the Dag-Nab-It dagger throwing game.

The Dag-Nab-It screen is fine as a mini-game you'll play once or twice, but the Mage’s Maze one is too complicated and busy for a one-time puzzle. If the minigame was expanded and more fun so you could play it multiple times it might be worth it, but it’s used once and only if you’re a mage. But I don’t see any need to punish the game for an overly complicated minigame interface that ⅔ of your players won’t even see. By the time you finally understand most of the Mage’s Maze interface you’re at the point where you’ve won the game.

I still don't understand the point of some of these options, and I WON the game!

As for a score, the inventory and various interfaces are functional, if a bit too many options at times.

A perfectly average 5 out of 10! Trickster gave a 7 for this category.


Story and Setting: 4

The story, which is basically “A curse has been put on our leader's family – make it stop!” is standard fantasy fare, not too dissimilar (why didn't you just say similar? - ed) to a King's Quest story in this regard. The setting of Spielburg is also fairly standard – a small town with only a few usable buildings surrounded by a forest. Almost the entire map being just trees, grass and rocks, there isn't much variety in locations – this is one area where King's Quest V definitely has the edge, with forest along with desert, snowy mountains, an ocean and more.

This place needs more speeder bikes and ewoks!

Nothing special here, and when compared to its contemporaries who had really started to excel when it came to story, this game is a little below par. Part of that is certainly related to it being a remake of a game created in a simpler time, but I'm not comparing it to games from 1989 – it's a 1992 game, and it doesn't hold up as well now – 4 out of 10. Trickster gave the original a 5 – hmm, perhaps it wasn't so original, even 3 years earlier.


Sound and Graphics: 5

As for sound, we have the occasional bird tweet in the forest or opening door creak in the town. The sound effects are sparse, and not terribly memorable. I can say the same with the music. For some reason the town music sounded like Space Quest music to me. I noticed Mark Siebert, who composed the music for this game, was also involved in the music for many Space Quest games, so perhaps it's his style I'm noticing. The music was functional but I never found it compelling or particularly memorable.



As for graphics, again I have to say functional but not exceptional. I did like the heroic pose my character stood in whenever he wasn't moving. The graphics were definitely not as good as King's Quest V, which is understandable considering their respective budgets, but again, I'm not grading on a curve here, so for 1992 I don't think these graphics are up to the standards of the best of 1990.


The graphics have improved but for some reason Baba Yaga's hut is now a massive cave on the inside - is she a time lord?

A 5 again here – not that great but decent. Trickster gave the original a 7 – again when comparing this game to King's Quest V from a few years earlier I found the graphics, sound, music and animations significantly less... good.


Environment and Atmosphere: 5

This game does effectively give off the “So you want to be a hero?” atmosphere so props for that. I did also like that I slowly came to the realisation of who the bandit leader and wizard actually were. That shows a consistency of information and allowed me to come to the realisation on my own, which added to the game. I also liked (despite being annoyed at the frequency of random monster encounters) how the forest became much more dangerous at night. It made the game seem more alive with the ghosts and more dangerous animals roaming.

Having said all that, there was nothing anywhere near as compelling as Martian Memorandum's Stanton Expedition location – the fact that I can still think of it now shows how much that area's atmosphere worked on me. I can't imagine anything like that in this game. Trickster gave the original an 8 in this category but I see nothing above average here. I’ll give this category a 5 out of 10 here.


Dialogue and Acting: 5

A lot of this game's dialogue and description text is written with a light-hearted slant, so not meant to be taken seriously. That worked well for this game. I use the term light-hearted deliberately here, as I didn't find it genuinely laugh out loud funny, like a Monkey Island game - while it wasn't actually funny to me, it was clear the game was having FUN, and I was having fun in turn at the light-heartedness of it.

There was no voice acting in this game, which is a tad disappointing for a 1992 adventure game. Again, I suspect the game's budget as a remake is to blame, but again, I'm comparing the game with it's full budget contemporaries so when I consider how much more fun the game could have been with a narrator such as Space Quest IV's Gary Owens, I can't help but be a little disappointed.

Another disappointment in the dialogue front is that dialogue doesn't change throughout the game. I can still be told all about the missing Baronet despite him being rescued and back in the castle for days. I also don't get to ask people about topics as I discover them as all dialogue options are available from the first time I meet them. Again, this is likely a result of transcribing the dialogue directly from the original game where I'd have no reason to ask about "brigands" until I already knew they were a problem. With a little more effort the game could have added a few variables so that I could ask people things at the appropriate time and asking about situations after they've changed could give me a response acknowledging the fact.

Um... he'd been turned into a bear, and I rescued him two weeks ago... didn't you get the memo?

I'm looking at another 5 out of 10 here. Trickster gave the original a 6, and I don't think the dialogue was changed at all for the remake, so I think the different scores are probably attributed to adventure game writing in general coming along massively in the 3 years between the games. For example there are no dialogue options in this game so you can’t have actual conversations with people. Having interactive dialogue really helps me connect with the game and it's noticeably missing here.


Final Rating

That gives this game a total of... 7+5+4+5+5+5*10/6 which equals 52. Does this seem fair to me... yes, it does. I enjoyed my time with the game but can't see myself ever playing it again (though I have already played it three times so that's not too surprising.) I certainly enjoyed Martian Memorandum more than this game, and that only got a 50 from me. King's Quest V also did many things better than this game and came out earlier but only got the slightly higher score of 56. I'm certain my lack of nostalgia affected my score, and if I'd been the fan of the series that Trickster is, it would have scored higher in a number of categories. Perhaps we'll see that with my next game, which I'll be starting next week and DO have positive nostalgic feelings for. As we all do, I try to be impartial with my ratings, but I know nostalgia has an unconscious effect on our opinions – and I'm sure Indiana Jones is counting on it.


One thing I'm very glad of is that I ended up playing as all three characters. It gave me a more complete idea of the game's strengths and weaknesses that I'd not have had if I only played as a single character. That's something that wouldn't have been feasibly done if we only had one reviewer so thank you for voting for that option.

I did find it amusing that I had written in the comments of Trickster's Final Rating that the high score the game received disappointed me for some reason – If only I'd known that one day I'd be able to have my own chance to review Quest for Glory I and give it a lower rating! Happy to be of service, me from over 5 years ago!

And as I've done before (But forgotten to do for Leather Goddesses 2 - stay tuned for a quick edit) I'll add an Overall Fun Factor to the score. For a pure measure of how much fun I had playing this game, I give it a 4 out of 10 - parts of it were fun but it was only rarely excellent and had too much that wasn't fun for me. This gives Quest for Glory I a PISSEDOFF rating of 48. Despite the low PISSEDOFF rating, I enjoyed it enough that I will be continuing with the series. I'll be playing Quest for Glory II at some point and I plan to play along when Alex tackles Quest for Glory III in the near future.

So now that I'm done with Quest for Glory I - and likely disappointed most of you by rating it much lower than you'd hoped, I'll be back next week when I step into the dirt-encrusted boots of Indiana Jones and get to find out what happened to the lost city of Atlantis!


CAP Distribution

107 CAPs to TBD
  • Blogger Award – 100 CAPs - For playing through Quest for Glory I for everyone's enjoyment
  • Bonus Blogger Award - 2 CAPs - For playing through Quest for Glory I an additional two times in order to have a more complete knowledge of the game
  • Free Fandango Award - 5 CAPs - For pointing out a free classic adventure game available on GOG.com
83 CAPs to Ilmari
  • Classic Blogger Award – 50 CAPs - For playing through Return to Eden to keep us occupied over the Christmas/New Year break
  • Abort, Retry, Fail Award – 20 CAPs - For giving me the bad news about my assistance request when I needed it
  • Unlocked Nostril Award – 5 CAPs - For some bonus useless facts about nose picking and the Marx Brothers
  • Back to the Bar Award – 8 CAPs - For telling me how to get a clue for the Archery Target meeting so I didn't think it was totally random
56 CAPs to Corey Cole
  • Creator Award – 50 CAPs - For creating the game and sharing some inside information with us as we went along
  • I'm On The Guest List Award – 7 CAPs - For specifically telling us the story behind the people at the Baron's endgame party
  • False Sense of Security Award – -10 CAPs - For telling TBD there would be few if any dead end scenarios, before TBD found one wasting many hours in the process
  • Sorry About That Chief Award – 9 CAPs - For apologising for the aforementioned walking dead scenario
50 CAPs to Joe Pranevich
  • Festive Blogger Award - 50 CAPs - for playing through Elves '87 on Christmas '17
25 CAPs to Andy_Panthro
  • True Companion Award – 20 CAPs - For playing along with Quest for Glory I
  • Off-Topic Assistance Award – 5 CAPs - For helping Alex Romanov out by explaining what 'Borderline' means in our games spreadsheet
17 CAPs to Laukku
  • #nofilter Award – 7 CAPs - For noticing that I'd been accidentally posting screenshots with a filter instead of how I was intending to.
  • Pregnant Pause Award - 5 CAPs - For reminding me of the ways I can pause the game to take notes
  • The Older Folder Award - 5 CAPs - For pointing out that I could always make multiple save folders instead of copying the entire game many times
16 CAPs to Kirinn
  • I Dream of Genii Award – 5 CAPs - For solving Ilmari's riddle
  • RTFM Award - 5 CAPs - For showing me an alternate game manual that gave extra information not available in the manual that came with the game
  • Mega Memory Award – 6 CAPs - For pointing out in my final play post that I was whingeing about not receiving information I specifically mentioned receiving in my first play post
13 CAPs to Torch
  • The Genre Straddler Award - 6 CAPs - For suggesting that I should perhaps solve some puzzles as an RPG rather than an adventure game
  • I Don't Know That Award - 5 CAPs - For answering a caption with an appropriate movie reference
  • Two Dice One Cup Award - 2 CAPs - For pointing out that the coffee cup and die deserved points for all the hard work
10 CAPs to Alex
  • Lowest Score Wins Award – 10 CAPs - For guessing closest to the Final Rating of 52 with a guess of... 63?!? Is this the biggest margin we've had?
8 CAPs to Fenrus
  • Take a Nap Award – 8 CAPs - For telling me that I'd be better off resting for smaller periods rather than always trying to sleep the night.
8 CAPs to Kus of the Valley
  • Take a Nap Award – 8 CAPs - For telling me that I'd be better off resting for smaller periods rather than always trying to sleep the night.
5 CAPs to Laertes
  • What Day Is It Award - 5 CAPs - For noticing a sneaky Purple Tentacle reference in a post
5 CAPs to Rowan Lipkovits
  • The Worser Cursor Award - 5 CAPs - For creating a fourth wall breaking pun worthy of Erasmus the Wizard
2 CAPs to An Empty Coffee Cup and Six Sided Die
  • Better Than You Award – 2 CAPs - For only taking two hours to do what I did in four and a half

16 comments:

  1. 52! Interesting how taste leads to different scores. :-) This makes me wonder again about possible averages from multiple reviews - or even a system (alongside the official scores) which would let users vote on each game's PISSED category, resulting in an crowdsourced IMDB-style ranking. However, abuse prevention would be difficult, and it would be pretty populist.

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    1. The score feels low, but it's an honest assessment from TBD's playthrough. I think it is a little bit that TBD didn't like the game as much as we did (nostalgia factor?) and a bit that Trickster over-rated the game.

      Maybe a voting system could work, but it could only work on a bare few games that all of us have played. I can't imagine enough readers played "Hook" or the "LA Law Game" recently enough...

      Here's an idea: maybe the readers that are playing along (of which we do not have a ton), would have an opportunity to provide their own takes on the game. After (or before?) the Final Rating post, we could assemble those "alternate takes" from the readers and include them in a post. That would also give some contributors some CAPs and have their writing up there in the blog itself rather than the comments. (I wouldn't ask them to write a PISSED rating necessarily, just provide their own mini-review.)

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    2. Actually, let's try that on Sherlock Holmes? Any objection? Could it work something like this?

      When I do the WON! post, we'll solicit any readers to provide their own "fast take" on the game. Just like 300 words max or something. Not huge. They can send it to the admins. I'll collate them and include them in the Final Rating post, before (or after?) the PISSED score.

      If we like that, maybe we'll do it on more games. If not, we won't.

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    3. The voting system was more me thinking aloud than a serious suggestion... wouldn't want to make the PISSED ratings too much of a serious business.

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    4. At first I thought the score sounded low as well, but the reasoning behind every point seems fair so nostalgia might be the case, but maybe also that I at least would overlook the small setting since it's part of a 5 game series making the whole greater than some parts missing in each and every game? But I agree about the dialogue tree, it was a missed opportunity.

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  2. I had the persistent impression in these reviews that you just didn't get this game, or perhaps it was just a poor fit. Which makes it an interesting review, but a disappointing one.

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  3. I also want to congratulate TBD on the fantastic review. Rating nuttiness aside, this was a fun read and a very different view on the game than I would have had. Great work!

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    1. Second that. I had a blast reading this review, even though I too hoped for a higher score. However, if you convert the x/100 PISSED rating to die rolls (1d6), the original scored a 4 and the remake a strong 3. Soooo only one less....

      Anyway, as a little pick-me-up for us old nostalgics, polygon.com recently published their list of the 500 best games of all time, and the original QfG/Hero's quest landed on 47. Yaaay!

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    2. To be fair, we shouldn't complain too much as long as the score is justified well enough, which I think is in this case. The setting and other elements are indeed outdated, and IMO the parser in the original created a better synergy between gameplay and control - the post already discussed points such as how the dialogue options didn't quite work naturally.

      Also, mad props to TBD for playing with all three characters!

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    3. I think it's courageous of TBD to say so frankly that he didn't find the game to be to his taste, even if it is very popular. I suspect the hybrid nature of the game, which makes it also very unique, might also alienate those adventure gamers who do not enjoy the RPG parts of the game, such as the grinding of attributes. Considering that, 52 isn't a bad score at all.

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  4. Lol I guessed the score ! yeahhh. And now you play, my personal favorite video game ever done in the history on the universe. And that's something, since I played more than 10000 games in my life. Damned Indiana Jones FOA.

    Have fun with it, best game ever done.

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  5. Lower score than I was expecting, but I always preferred the EGA version myself.

    It's also surprising that the art style is so different, especially when QfG3+4 are more the typical Sierra style of that era.

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  6. As I understand it, PISSED scores are supposed to be independent of when the game came out, so it's totally fair to compare with later games. That said, let me quibble about a comment in this post - Very few games in 1992 had voice acting, and none from Sierra. Even the first 1993 release of Quest for Glory IV was text-only, requiring the 1994 CD-ROM version to add voices. With the amount of dialogue in a Quest for Glory, voice audio was impossible until we switched from floppy disks to CD-ROM.

    Other than that, the review and score seem totally fair to me. Lori and I don't judge our work from review scores; in fact, she never reads reviews of her games. We just design and write them as best we can.

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  7. Firstly, thank you all for not bringing out the pitchforks and torches. I expected many wouldn't be happy with my ratings but I did my best to rate each category fairly compared to other ratings we've given.

    I will admit that when I did originally see what my ratings added up to I very briefly considered trying to find excuses to increase all points to get it closer to people's guesses, but quickly decided gaming the rating system in order to get a desired result would be a stupid idea.

    I should add that I don't think 52 denotes a bad game - just a game that I found to be slightly above average rather than one of the best.

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  8. I think your real issue was that your peripherals were lacking. Imagine the furthered fun that could have been had with a humorous slogan on your coffee cup! Going plain clearly hindered your enjoyment, TBD. (I think this is a perfectly fair review. I will always have a soft spot for these games regardless of their few flaws, but will admit that the first game was never my favorite of the series. That's likely because I started at 2, and I found it hard to go back to what I've always thought of as the "level 1" scenario.)

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  9. Interesting review... I would say that QFG1 is a solid start to a series and a good introduction to the unique adventure/rpg hybrid nature built by the Coles and team. 2 and 4 are definite strong points, but 3 and 5 both bring something interesting and unique in both crpg's and adventure games. Often times a game or series that does things a little different are going to get lower review scores because by combining genre's they are inevitably going to be different then games from either/both groups. That is why they often are classified as being 'fun/good games, despite a lower than expected score'. They're enjoyable, but they probably won't hit every button on someone's meter of what makes a good crpg or what makes a good adventure game...However, they will hit most of the buttons from both genres, which is a solid accomplishment.

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