Story & World
The small viewing window used while exploring the lands detracts much from the experience and it becomes easy to go from wandering into being lost. The functionality of the terrains with their vastly different encounters is a welcome change from the norm. The few dungeon areas are very small and require little to no mapping (perhaps only the final dungeon). Towns are very similar to one another in terms of services available. Only the layout of the town changes which just makes it harder to remember where the healer dude is (accounting for 98% of all town visits).
Poor grammar and bad spelling aside, NPCs still
uncommonly provide useful information (sometimes it's outright false!).
Even the beneficial hints are usually related to something that the
player would find out regardless. Instead of just having NPCs located
in towns and castles, more are found in the random encounters had while
traveling. These NPCs have different sayings depending on where the
player is at in the game. Bonus point for that lying scumbag NPC just
because it's such a dick move.
All the quests revolve around finding some cave or
monument, beating the bads (if any), and collecting the reward
(equipment or companion). The companion gathering quests were the most
enjoyable though it's too bad they ended up functioning so similarly.
There's not a lot of help in game for most of the quests so any
locations found while exploring have to be marked down to revisit
later. Occasionally someone might mention the general location of one
of the pieces of legendary equipment but players are pretty much on
their own. The main quest is the standard foozle killing that is the
staple of so many early RPGs. 7/20
No options exist for character creation. Stats consist of a basic Attack / Defense structure along with hit points and experience. Interestingly, the experience and hit points of a character are displayed only in bar form; there are no numbers to be found for these stats. The addition of companions adds little to diversity as they are all fighter types with the same basic stats. Only differences in levels show any variation.
For non-legendary items, there are two choices for
weapons (knife or sword), an armour, and a shield. The next step up is
the legendary items and it ends there. Every character ends up with
armaments statistically identical to each other (the pictures are
different though). A paltry selection gets this category a paltry
Combat & Monsters
Combat is limited to back and forth melee attacks. Some tactical options begin to creep in as companions get added to the party but mostly results in just spreading around the damage taken. Magic comes in the form of a few usable items but is limited to mostly straight damage attacks. The real benefit of magic is that it doesn't count as a turn so all damage from items can be applied with no risk.
Almost all the creatures encountered are unique in
both name and appearance. The monster designs are very creative
although in battle they all operate pretty much the same way. A few
creatures have special attacks that damage all party members or puts
some to sleep for a few rounds. The guardian and end boss fights were
the toughest in the game and required the player to use all magic items
available in order to succeed. There is an option to talk with any foe
but it's pretty obvious in which encounters it can be used
Graphics & Sound
Nothing too special in the graphics department. A lot of monsters have a mix n' match look to them that, while unique, makes them appear silly instead of terrifying. The music itself was quite standard but the sound quality was very good. 10/20
One of the strongest economic structures so far
encountered in a RPG. Money stays tight throughout the game, sometimes
even running too low to pay for basic healing. The game keeps the costs
up during the middle of the game (when more $ is flowing in) by making
the player repurchase all the magic items used in the guardian boss
fights. In the late game, cash flow is reduced (unless specifically
grinding for it) since the toughness of monsters makes it necessary to
flee most creatures. The secondary fang monetary system is a nice
addition. The only downside is that there is not a lot of variety in
the items available to be purchased.
The menus are laid out well and fast to navigate. The
only issue with the controls is the slow pickup time when attempting to
move the party from rest.
Fairly nonlinear world requiring lots of backtracking to unlock previously locked caverns and whatnot. A high amount of exploring is required as many critical locations have no clues to their whereabouts. High degree of difficulty especially in the boss battles but the regular random encounters have their share of uber beasts as well. Progression was pretty smooth throughout the game; the only grinding done was in short chunks getting funds to replenish items after major battles. Game length was a bit short which could have been partially remedied by making the dungeons a bit bigger / more complex. 16/20
Final Ranking: 46/100