The Legend Of Kyrandia: Book 1 - Fables & Fiends

Title           The Legend Of Kyrandia: Book 1 - Fables & Fiends
Game Type       Adventure
Company		Westwood Studios Inc.
Players         1
Compatibility   OCS/ECS  (see below)
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer

In the beginning, there was King William, the paternal ancestor of our
hero, Brandon. He and his Kyrandian subjects, being really committed
environmental types, made a pact of mutual protection with Mother Nature.
This alliance was symbolised by the appearance of the powerful magic
Kyragem. After many generations, and some ups and downs with the use and
abuse of the Kyragem, it is stolen. The culprit is Malcolm, family friend
and court jester, who also murders Brandon's parents. The orphaned
Brandon's grandpa, Kallak a powerful Mystic, magically seals Malcolm in
the Castle. He then looks after Brandon. When Brandon becomes a young
man, Malcolm escapes, starts mutilating Nature, and does something
unpleasant to Kallak. Brandon is left alone to defeat Malcolm. The only
way to do so, is to reassemble the Kyragem and use it against him. This
is the ultimate object of the game.

"Kyrandia" possibly heralded the second generation point-&-click
adventure. It advanced graphically and in depth of game-play, from such
as the long-running "Kingdom" series, and introduced the humour and style
which clearly inspired "Monkey" and "Simon". The intro animation sets the
scene and reminds you of the basic storyline. This can be skipped if
required. Given the limitations of 8-bit low-res graphics at the time,
the backgrounds and characters are generally nicely done and varied. Some
scenes, however, particularly Castle rooms, tend to look cluttered and a
bit messy. Less detail would have worked better here. The character
animation is repetitive, as to be expected, but generally smooth. If the
music irritates, there is the option to turn it off. As expected from
this older game, there are problems with AGA. But this is easily overcome
with a simple "KillAGA" scipt. Then, apart from one slight glitch in the
cursor, the game runs fine.

Brandon starts out at his grandpa's cottage. The old chap has been turned
into stone. The chief suspect is, of course, psycho Malco. The game
starts out in the usual way for the genre, i.e. you find anything useful
where you are, then set off to explore. There are relatively few people
to meet in this game, compared with later graphic adventures. However,
there are plenty of places to visit and items to find and use - if indeed
they have a use. Some appear not to. The game is played 3rd person POV,
clicking on-screen items/locations. "Kyrandia" has no options for
conversations (as introduced with "Monkey"). The conversations are read
as on-screen text, for which there is an option to speed up if required.
As a lot of information is often provided in these (sometimes protracted)
conversations, it can be useful to pause while you take notes. There is
no mapping facility, so pausing and careful self-mapping is a must. There
is plenty of wry in-humour (visual and 'spoken') as you wander about and
interact. There is rather a lot of wandering about and many tasks can be
rather involved/convoluted. Thankfully there are unlimited save slots.

So, how was it to play?  For the most part it is an amusing and absorbing
game. One or two areas, e.g. the caverns, involve a bit of wandering, but
the only real downside is that a couple of tasks are just hit-&-miss
guesswork until you get it right. One or two events seem to have no
purpose or logic behind them at all. As such, there seem to be a few 'red
herrings' - possibly deliberately?  One important part of the game
(getting your hands on the crown) can be a frustratingly awkward
hit-&-miss and timing affair (unless you luckily hit it off first time).
However, I suspect a bit of a bug here. As steps often have to be
retraced through the game, it would be nice to be able to opt out of
in-game cut scenes that have been viewed before.

Overall? Having played later graphic adventures first, it's hard not to
judge the game in retrospect. Considered with its contemporaries, it is
impressive and fun enough to play at least once. Personally, I am not
attracted enough to play it again, as I would, say "Simon" although I know
how to solve all the puzzles (I could forget some, of course). It is a
worthy advancement in the genre for its time. Was there ever a "Book 2"
for the Amiga?  I don't recall ever seeing it. So many good things start
with Amiga then, sadly, go elsewhere.

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