Title Legend of Lothian Category RPG Author David W.Meny,1991 (Freeware) Players 1 Compatibility All HD Installable Yes Submission Joona Palaste (firstname.lastname@example.org) Profiled Reviewer Review Legend of Lothian, written by David W.Meny in 1991, is a freeware Ultima clone. It is simpler and shorter than the official Ultima games, but a good roleplaying adventure nonetheless. The story goes like this: Once upon a time in the land of Mercia, an evil sorceror cast a spell on the good king Lothian, causing him to fall fast asleep. You can't rule a land in your sleep, so Mercia soon fell prey to various evil monsters who now litter the land. It is up to you, a brave adventurer (either male or female), to kill the evil sorceror and steal his spellbook, so you can lift the sleep spell on king Lothian and restore order to Mercia. In practice, the game consists of walking around in the land of Mercia, visiting towns (of which there are seven: Larkspur, Rastun, Asraela, Marlot, Wenhea, Trubly and the ruins of Heslon) and castles (of which there are two: Lothian and Forlorn), fighting monsters and using various items to solve puzzles. The user interface in the game is extremely easy and effortless to use. You can either use the mouse to point-and-click at various icons, or steer the whole game from your keyboard, using the cursor keys to move your character and letters to interact with your surroundings (for example T to talk, O to open a door, and so on). You'll get the hang of it in about five seconds. When you are in a town, you're safe from harm. No dangers abound within towns. Here you can visit the weaponsmith or the armourer to buy a better weapon or better armour, visit the healer or the inn to restore your hitpoints, or hit the bar for a few mugs of good old ale (and to pick up valuable information from other patrons). However, the game has a serious bug: Inns don't work properly. Even if you pay for a room, the doors still stay locked. This bug renders inns unusable. Luckily, some towns have healers, who cast a spell on you for a modest price, curing all your wounds. Out in the open, monsters attack you every couple of steps. How many and what kind of monsters depends on your experience level. At the start of the game, you only get attacked by one or two orcs (sword fodder) at a time, but later, you get to face giant insects, mummies, skeletons, giant worms and even dragons. More advanced monsters do more damage and take more hits to kill, but this is easy to live with. Even the dragons aren't unbeatable and can be dealt with with a good enough weapon and armour. What is irritating, though, is the sheer numbers they amass in. When you're close to the end of the game, it's not unusual to be attacked by more than a hundred (I'm not kidding!) monsters, of about five or six different types, at a time. The only way to get out of combat and continue your journey is to either kill all the monsters or flee, which gets the more difficult the more monsters there are together, as usually one will eventually hold you off. Since you can only ever fight one monster at a time, these large combats become an experience of tapping the A key (for attack) so much that you're in danger of wearing the key out. Every monster that you kill awards you both a couple of experience points and a few gold coins. Experience counts towards your level - the more advanced your level is, the more hit points you have. Gold is pretty much self-explanatory. To be able to complete the game, killing monsters is not enough. You have to solve puzzles along the way, in order to be able to reach and enter the evil sorceror's fortress on a distant isle. These puzzles usually consist of using an item (which you've either bought from some guy or found lying around) to get your hands on another item, and this advances you towards your ultimate aim. The only real challenge is finding out which item is hidden where. There is not much of a magic element in this game. Your character is a warrior, not a wizard, therefore he (or she) knows no spells. The monsters don't attack with magic either. The only combat magic you'll ever find comes in the form of two shrines. Each of these has a secret mantra that you have to chant. If you chant the right mantra, one shrine gives you a really good weapon, the other really good armour. The presentation of Legend of Lothian is excellent, given its age (13 years) and the fact that it's freeware. Visually, the game could pass for Ultima IV or V (not necessarily VI or later, though). The graphics are really colourful and easily identifiable. The only real problem is the people and items, which are shown as white blobs with no features whatsoever. Maybe this is to enhance their contrast with the background, or maybe because David just can't draw realistic humans. (He does a much better job at drawing than me, however. I'm one of those guys who would need help to draw a recognisable Pac-Man.) As for the sound - well, there is no sound. In the entire course of the game, Legend of Lothian is completely silent. Not even the slighest beep can be heard. Luckily, this does not detract from the sense of adventure, given that this is an RPG, not a fast-paced platformer. I've completed Legend of Lothian years ago, and played it very thoroughly, so I have pretty much memorised the entire plot by now. If you search the web for "Legend of Lothian", you're bound to hit one of two solutions for this game: one written by me, the other by some other guy. The one that I wrote seems to come up more often. In closing, Legend of Lothian is a really nice Ultima clone. If you like RPGs, then you won't be disappointed with this game. It'll keep you hooked until you complete it - but not necessarily longer than that. After all, once you've completed the game, you've pretty much seen it all, as there are no "secret" bits. Still, it's worth playing through once.