Dragon Lore II
The story of Werner von Wallenrod and the Order of the Dragon Knights continues in this sequel to the first Dragon Lore game from Cryo, and the ending suggests there will be at least one more to come. In this episode Werner must prove himself worthy of the title of Dragon Knight and to succeed in this he must renew the pact of alliance between the House of Wallenrod and the clan of the fire dragon, Maraach. Unfortunately, Maraach has disappeared and Werner's status is disputed, especially by Cariachand, the Duke of Eragg, who is scheming to become the next Dragon Prince.
You take on the role of Werner and after a brief chat with the mysterious Archmage you must kit yourself out with weapons and supplies before you set out to find Maraach and fulfil your destiny.
Dragon Lore II is a hybrid game; an adventure with combat and some slight role playing elements. As with similar titles there is not enough adventuring for the adventure purists and many will be turned off by the combat component. Similarly, for the fighting fans the combat is quite limited and many of you will, no doubt, not appreciate the sedate pace of the adventuring. The role playing portion consists largely of monitoring your life, strength and magic bars, particularly immediately before and during combat. Thus, taken individually the parts don't work very well, yet, taken as a whole the game is quite respectable and it certainly held my interest sufficiently to play it through to the end -- though it's not without its minor annoyances.
The game is played from a first person perspective with occasional third person cut sequences. It is mouse controlled with the movement cursor consisting of four directional arrows so that as you move it around the screen the appropriate arrow will blink to indicate you can travel in that direction. Each mouse click in your chosen direction moves you through a transition sequence in one fluid motion. The graphics are excellent and the movement transitions really give a sense of travelling some distance though, after a while, I dearly wished for some way to skip through them as they tended to make the going very slow. If such a function for speeding up the game existed I was unable to find it. At times it can take a good deal of manoeuvring to get exactly where you want to go and at one point, in a shop, it takes up to six moves just to exit!
In this game you must keep an eye on the clock as specific events occur at specific times and, of course, you don't want to miss them. There are only three general locations to explore, the forest, the town and the labyrinth, and in the town, in particular, I often found myself just wandering around in order to move time on so that something would happen. Admittedly, this was partly my own fault as I continually saved and restored my game to be as efficient as possible, but the end result was that I had completed all the things I was allowed to do by my second or third day in town and then had to pass time for a couple of days waiting for a particular event to occur.
You gain information from various characters in the story by clicking on questions and responses that appear as text on the screen and you need to talk to them repeatedly to see if they can shed new light on events or other things you may have learned in the meantime. So conversations are important, but unfortunately they are not 'updated' in line with the state of play so that previously exhausted topics aren't dispensed with. Now I'm not saying that it isn't helpful that you can return to a character and ask a previously asked question (some of us with short memories benefit from this option) but it is inexcusable when, as with this game, it leads to a situation where you can ask for a particular unique item again and again and consequently use it again and again to collect the reward money. This problem largely overcomes the need to use your resources wisely. Although, by the time I discovered this I didn't need any more money anyway and only tried it to confirm that it was a glitch. The voice acting is rather wooden, but, fortunately, there is on-screen text throughout.
The game comes on three CD's and at times I found the disk swapping to be more than a little irksome, particularly as you must always restart the game from the first disk before you can restore to your last saved position. This problem is exacerbated as you can die quite often, especially during combat, and you have no choice but to restart from scratch before you can restore. I quickly learned to get around this by restoring during combat if it was obvious that I was about to lose the fight. Also, as it is a time based game, you must change disks when day becomes night and night becomes day once you are in the town.
On a more positive note I enjoyed the challenge of the labyrinth and even the combat wasn't too difficult once I got used to it. The key, of course is to choose your weapon wisely, use your limited magic for added protection and to weaken your opponent and, above all, make sure you are at full strength before fighting. The jousting sequences were, for me, the most tedious as I could do little more than point my lance once I entered the arena and I could find no way to escape the sequence if I was doing badly.
This game will likely please any Dragon Lore fan and there is enough of a story about dragons and mysterious lost artefacts and lost labyrinths to keep lots of players interested. Although I thought there could have been more emphasis on story and puzzles rather than on heroics, but that just my opinion. It's not a difficult game and the problems are certainly not insurmountable. Notwithstanding the glitch mentioned earlier, even if you miss finding a useful item, with one or two exceptions, either it won't be crucial to completing your quest or you will likely be able to get hold of it elsewhere. To my mind this removed a lot of the challenge from the game, but such generosity does make it more playable for players who are new to this type of game.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1997.
All rights reserved.
Minimum: 486 DX2 66, 8MB RAM, 13 MB free hard disk space, SVGA video card, 2x CD ROM
Recommended: Pentium 90, 8 MB RAM, 50 MB free hard disk space, SVGA video card, Sound card, 4x CD ROM