I have been a Quest for Glory fan since I played the first Hero's Quest over seven years ago. Although I have always loved role-playing games, I never really played too many adventure games. But Hero's Quest blended the two genres together into a greater whole that I found instantly appealing. The series, which later became Quest for Glory, combined the dialogue, item hunts, and other classic story-driven goals of adventure games with the combat, magic, and character interaction of RPGs. Each time I sat down to play a Quest for Glory game, I walked away completely satisfied upon finishing the game. I played the first, second, and third games but never got around to playing Quest IV. That was supposed to be the last Quest for Glory game, but thanks to a plethora of fan mail, Sierra was persuaded to create a final chapter in the Quest for Glory saga. The Coles, the creators of the previous games, returned to scribe an ending to our Hero's tales, and I was ready to retire one of my favorite game characters in his ultimate adventure.
As excited as I was about putting on the shoes of Hero again, I forgave the admittedly lackluster graphics. After all, role-playing games and adventures are about story, and Quest for Glory especially is about plot, characters, and humor. Quest for Glory V has all that. In fact, after looking at my first item and talking to my first NPC, it was as if I had never left the series. The humor and style of the previous Quest games is wholly intact in this final chapter. Quest for Glory has always had a juvenile sense of humor, with corny jokes and heavy sexual innuendo. So of course, you can flirt with all the women in the game, and you can give and receive a number of groaners. Of course, this is something that Quest for Glory fans have come to expect from the series, so rather than be put off by the game's quirky sense of humor, I was heartened. This was the game I remembered. However, if I weren't a fan of the series, I don't know if I would appreciate the game's humor.
The basic plot requires you to answer a summons for help from the kingdom of Silmaria, nestled in the island area of Marete. Ages ago, Atlantis resided around these waters, but the Dragon of Doom crippled it, sending it to the ocean floor. A handful of mages bound the dragon to the earth with the aid of seven pillars. Now, Silmaria is suffering a chain of events that will not only destroy the kingdom, but also unleash the dragon to finish the obliteration of Atlantis. As Hero, you come to Silmaria - via the magic of your mage mentor Erasmus - to right all the wrongs perpetrated on Silmaria. Your adventures manifest themselves in the form of the Rites of Rulership. The king of Silmaria has been assassinated, and the Rites have been convened to select a new ruler. Erasmus and your liontaur companion, Rakeesh, have entered you into the contest so you can travel Marete and find the real killer. If you win the Rites and become King in the process... well, that's an added bonus.
There are seven Rites, and as you finish each one, more of the game's plot is revealed. You soon find that the assassinations, the raids on Silmaria's fishing villages, the kingdom's war with the tritons of Atlantis, and many other problems are all related. Eventually, you'll meet the mastermind behind all this evil and even confront the Dragon itself.
As a Quest fan, I was glad to see old faces from the previous games. Rakeesh is back, as are Elsa, Erasmus, Erana, Katrina, and several other characters. Disappointingly, Rakeesh and Erasmus have relatively small roles in the game. I liked that the characters' dialogue trees refreshed after certain quests or periods of time. The gameworld isn't very large, but the continually updated events and dialogue kept the game from feeling too confined. There was always something to do. Aside from the seven main quests, there are also side quests that don't have to be completed but do give you special items, open new lines of dialogue with NPCs, and add to your score. The first two quests are very straightforward, but the later quests have less in the way of direction. In some ways, this is good. You are left to think up solutions on your own to the quests and to find your own way of arriving at those solutions. Some quests are clever, but other times, you could be stuck wandering around the gameworld, lost and frustrated. The middle game, especially, feels too much like an adventure game where you have to go poking and prodding at every single pixel, looking for certain items.
Some of the game's voice acting was good, but some voices were too strained and annoying (Cerberus is especially terrible). The music was good, with some excellent tracks and event-specific music. The graphics aren't bad, although extreme close-ups of Hero don't look very good. The prerendered backgrounds look nice, and the undulating sea waves are especially good. One of my biggest complaints about the game is the lack of a zoom feature in combat. Sometimes, you could be caught in a battle at the far end of the map, meaning you and your target are barely large enough to click on. This is exasperated when you cast the shrink spell. What makes the problem even worse is the bad interface, which never distinguishes between "hot" items and useless ones. The cursor should light up when you pass over items you can pick up, locations of interest, or enemies and characters. The interface just compounds the problem when you have to look for a specific item or panel (this is most pronounced when finding the crane operation panel on Science Island).
I do like that the game plays differently depending on which character you choose. Each class has a few extra quests and abilities, and solutions to certain puzzles and combat differ depending on your character's abilities. This definitely accentuates the role-playing aspect of the game and makes replay a very real possibility, if you can stomach rehashing some of the game's faults. I do think Quest for Glory is a pretty good game, but much of what fueled my desire to play the game was nostalgia. The game plays very much like what I remembered but with added stories and the chance to revisit old acquaintances. That's what I wanted. However, gamers unused to Quest for Glory might be put off by the less-than-stellar graphics and "old school" gameplay. Gamers also might be put off by Quest for Glory V's bugs. I ran into a few, and people have complained about several others. Some bugs prevent the completion of certain side quests, while others will dump you out to the desktop. Also, the promised multiplayer support is absent, although a patch is supposed to enable it sometime in the future.
I really enjoyed my first ten hours of Quest for Glory V, but as the game wore on, I became more frustrated by the pace of the game and the pixel-hunting instances of gameplay. A better interface, a quest log that showed you what you had to do, and better handling of combat would have alleviated some of my concerns. I did finish the game, and I enjoyed it overall, but the ending was definitely disappointing. As the final farewell to Hero, this game should have at least included an epilogue of some sort that let you know what happened to Hero and all his companions. Quest for Glory V has a few quirks and problems that will try your patience, but series fans will want to play this game to see old friends and follow Hero's last adventure.