Yendorian Tales: The Tyrants of Thaine
The Yendorian saga advances with this latest shareware title from SW Games which features another huge world to explore, along with some mighty monsters to make life difficult, and another meandering plot with a good array of mini quests.
The game commences with a potted history of the saga thus far, delivered aurally and accompanied by text. A short cut sequence concludes this introduction and, as speech is rendered as text for the remainder of the game, this is an adventure that all role-playing fans can enjoy. Pity that the cut-sequence omits text but, rest assured, if you have any hearing impairment this won't hold you up for too long.
In Yendorian Tales Chapter I , Part I, you overcame the evil wizard Pultivar when he tried to possess the powerful Orb of Zamora. For his troubles he was magically imprisoned. In Chapter II you thwarted the attempt of a gang of conspirators to free Pultivar ... but in vain it seems as now his release is assured due to the imminent eruption of a volcano. Thus in the Tyrants of Thaine, all going to plan, you will eventually meet your long time adversary face to face. But, of course, there's a lot to do along the way, lots of characters to lend a hand, an assortment of megalomaniacs to overcome and a selection of powerful artefacts to be collected so that you can achieve your ultimate goal.
The Tyrants of Thaine, despite its much more descriptive title, its improved graphics and soundtrack, and greater variety of monsters and terrain, is technically very similar to the last game in the series. It uses the same game engine with a stepping movement and turn based combat and, once again, there is a similar emphasis on character management and character interaction within the story. The lands of Yendor are still in a state of political turmoil, and negotiating with everyone you meet, whilst not being too sparing with your sympathies, will eventually lead you on to success in your mission.
One interesting addition to this game is the inclusion of a sort of 'strategy' element, in that you can 'build' your own stronghold. I must admit I was sceptical when I first read of this addition, I was afraid it was going to change the emphasis of the series, from a role playing adventure to a war strategy game requiring me to build up armies, feed and deploy them, etc. Happily, it does nothing of the sort. Purchasing and developing land and establishing your stronghold is as easy as buying weapons and armour and I was soon saving madly to invest in my newly purchased real estate in order to reap the benefits offered by the newly established traders. Needless to say, as well as following the story carefully you also have to keep an eye on your bank account in order to make all your necessary purchases and to pay trainers to improve your skills.
Once more you start out on this Yendorian adventure with the option of using an already existing party of four characters or you can fashion your own party by selecting their gender, their portraits, their occupation; and then rolling the dice to determine various attributes.
If you have played Chapter I, Part 2 you will know what to expect from here on. Lots of minor quests to rid the land of troublesome hordes of monsters and to find particular elusive artefacts. As is usual, careful management of statistics is very useful in this game because characters need specific skills to speak languages, pick locks and to win the challenges that test their various abilities and help to rake in some cash. Not forgetting that finely tuned fighting and magical skills are always a big help in defeating your foes.
There is plenty to explore in this game, and again there is a useful travel spell to aid you to move around quickly. There are plenty of dungeons and open grasslands to negotiate, as well as a snow covered landscape which is quite unhealthy if you don't have the right gear, plus other environments that are too hot to handle. As with its predecessor, Tyrants errs on the side of hack and slash, as opposed to having lots of buttons and levers in winding passages, but there is an assortment of passwords and keys to find and many secret passages and treasure chests.
There are also a couple of dungeon obstacles that will test your powers of recollection and of simple mathematics. I had some fun with the latter. A tiny tip here to help you avoid my mistakes. Don't put all your faith in the graphical representation of inventory items. Although the graphic for a log of wood shows three logs, the weight indicated measures only one.
If you have played Yendorian Tales, Book I, Chapter II then you'll be on familiar ground in this game and enjoy it equally as much. Although, I must admit I did miss the island hopping. If you haven't played a SW roleplaying game then test this one out. Just remember that it is shareware so it doesn't have the graphical sophistication of the more commercial games, but this is compensated for by the price difference as well as by the good, turn-based combat system ... I love that tremor spell and the acid rain.
You can try before you buy with this one, check it out on the SW Games site. The full version comes once more with a walkthrough, maps, a bestiary and lists of game objects, etc.
Just a final comment ... I was devastated when I heard I had annihilated the last of the Emerald Dragons ... the extinction of a species all down to me! Fortunately, I ran into some more of the fiery green brutes ... and I had to annihilate them as well! I sincerely hope there's more surviving somewhere in Yendor to propagate the species.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997.
All rights reserved.
IBM 386 PC or 100% compatible, VGA graphics card 2 Megs of RAM 21 Megs free on the hard disk Microsoft 100% compatible mouse and driver MSDOS 5.00 or later Recommendations: Sound Blaster or 100% compatible sound card Windows 95