Amiga Power1st October 1993
Published in Amiga Power #30
Realms Of Arkania: Blade Of Destiny
Into D&D? Well, now there's Blade Of Destiny, an RPG off the PC with, er, lots to see.
Don't know about you, but I was never too fond of any RPGs up to the time of Eye Of The Beholder 2. It was the puzzles that got me; their 'solve this or - ha! - you can't get any further' nature I found frustrating, unnecessary and bereft of realism.
Things changed with Ishar and its sequel, which, by offering freedom of movement and superior character interaction, looked great on paper. (Can't say I've played them, though.) Then came Might & Magic III, which was not only far bigger, but by allowing exploration outside any one particular puzzle provided scope, authenticity and just the sort of inspiritment you needed [Rich, I'm not going to tell you again about this 'making-up-new-words-when-you-can't-think-of-the-proper-one' business! - Ed]. Character interaction was enhanced as you inevitably found yourself popping into temples, shops, banks, taverns, inns and such, usually for something more vital than a friendly hello. And then there was Legends Of Valour, which I seem to remember reading a review of, once. The RPG to end all RPGs, apparently. Texture-mapped graphics, hundreds of different routes through the game, and not a statistic or dice roll in sight.
Judging by the press release, Blade looked promising. A conversion of a German PC game which took an original team of over twenty full-time programmers over a year to pen, the Amiga version has been voted Game Of The Year by such discerning publications as Amiga Joker (whoever they may be!). We are promised auto-mapping, archetypes for individual characters, unique 'negative' attributes such as Superstition and Phobias, computer-controlled allying characters, over 200 spells, a standalone character-generation program, the option to split your party, over 52 towns and villages and realistic weather. But is it any good? Time to load up, circumspect, and report back, I think. Don't go away.
Well, I certainly found it friendly. In its disfavour [Right, that's it. You're fired - Ed] I found the visual similarity of the buildings exasperating at times - until I had a rough layout of the area committed to memory I needed a disk-accessing peek at the map at almost every corner. (Why they couldn't have the word 'Tavern' above the taverns, or 'Shop' above the shops is beyond me.) As ever, you can almost hear the box tittering as you open it and the manual sniggering if you've only got one meg and no hard drive, but even with my A500's mere half-meg upgrade and one external floppy drive, the minimal disk swapping and forfeit of sound seemed quite reasonable considering how large an adventure I was playing.
And large it is too. I'm not sure quite how far I got (over 400 hours of gameplay are promised) but I kind of got the feeling that if Blade Of Destiny was an ice-cream Snickers, I've hardly even been treated to a peanut [Blimey! - Ed]. Having reaching a third village, there was still no sign of the nice map pieces I was after (joined together these would show me the location of The Blade of Destiny, which I could use to kill the Orc Chief and beat the game). Going by disk numbers, Blade is approximately twice the size of Beholder 2 - which, suffice to say, means that it's probably huge. The biggest D&D clone to date. I'd expect.
The thing is, having seen the fresh third-person perspective approach of Legend, Space Crusade and various console games like Zelda, every time I see a straight first-person-perspective D&D clone I can't help thinking it looks a little old hat. I know graphics don't make a game, but after seeing (pictures of) Valour, Blade's graphics do little to turn me on.
"But Blade Of Destiny has depth and size in its favour," enthusiasts will cry. Personally I found there were so many icons to click on, I wished half of them weren't there.
"But Blade Of Destiny is still huge," they'll retort, and there I'm beaten. Blade Of Destiny is very large indeed. I just hope the two follow-ups we're promised are spiced up considerably, that's all.
The Bottom Line
Uppers: It's huge! It's (quite) instantly accessible! And there are more options available than you could shake all eight disks at!
Downers: We've seen this sort of thing better before, and Blade does little to beef up the well-worn D&D RPG Amiga game genre.
There's little to encourage all but the most dedicated fan here. On the other hand, pages 76 and 77 of the true RPG enthusiast's latest copy of Amiga Power and probably already stuck together with excitement. If that grabs you, this will too.