Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos

Developer/Publisher:  Westwood
Year Released:  1993

Review by Rosemary Young (November, 1995)
lol.jpgIt's unforgivable, we have reached our 4th issue without including a single Role-Playing Game in our reflections, so it's surely time we made amends.

Apart from the very important reason that it is quite an enjoyable game, we have chosen Lands of Lore for several reasons. Firstly, it is another title where the sequel is almost upon us, so if you are a Role-Playing fan and haven't sampled this one yet, it is the perfect time to do so. Secondly, it has recently been re-released and this new release is not only at a budget price (it is included in the Virgin White Label series) but it has also been revamped with the inclusion of a new soundtrack with very respectable voices added.

Voices and choices
In this new release of LOL no doubt you will all recognise the voice of Patrick Stewart of Star Trek/Captain Picard fame. Whilst he and the other actors definitely add to the appeal of this title it is, nevertheless, very good to see that the written text is still around. So, if for any reason you don't want to listen to the dialogue, you can turn it off and still follow what is going on by reading the text. And the controls in this game give you lots of different options such as separate adjustments for the level of music, sound and dialogue. Other good features include heaps of save games slots and three levels of difficulty.

Yes, you can adjust the strength of the creatures you must face which makes it perfect to recommend for less experienced players. Just access the game controls and you can choose either wimpy, normal or ferocious.

I say that this game is suitable for newer players, however I do have one reservation in this respect. There is a fighting sequence, namely in the White Tower, level 3, which is particularly difficult, even on the wimpy level. Other than that it would make an excellent introduction to Role-playing games. To play you don't have to grapple with loads of statistics, the story is developed very well and your tasks are clearly defined, and the mapping feature is as good as they come, maybe a little too good for some players. For instance you can't possibly miss a secret room or passage, they are clearly marked on your map, and it is very easy to find your way around by following the unmapped paths.

Involving storyline
You begin this game by selecting one of four pre-determined characters with various skills. You then find yourself at the doorway of Gladstone Keep and must immediately pay your respects to King Richard. Of course, all is not well and the good King has an important quest for you. Scotia, the wicked witch of the story, is misbehaving. She has gotten her hands on the Nether Mask and is preparing to assert her dominance over the lands. Your first task is to go and fetch the Ruby of Truth from Sir Roland, but it isn't all plain sailing.

Alas, when you arrive Sir Roland's estate has been attacked and the Ruby stolen. Soon after, Gladstone Keep suffers a similar fate. Sir Richard is poisoned and it is up to you to save him. And so the story grows as you seek out a cure and, all going according to plan, come face to face with Scotia.

The long trek
Your journey is a long one. In learning about the cure and finding the ingredients you must seek out other characters and gain their confidence and help. There are forests brimming with foes to fight, a dangerous swamp where a wrong step spells doom, a maze like mine with plenty of keys to find, holes to fall through and levers to pull, not to mention the tricky White Tower and your final destination, which presents another set of puzzles to for you to negotiate.

This game is perhaps not for the 'serious' role-player who has progressed from the pen and paper games and who can't get by without stacks of stats, but it is nevertheless lots of fun. It lacks some of the sophistication of more recent role-playing games and the inventory is a little unwieldy, but it is still eminently playable. Really, I have only one major complaint, and it is a serious one. There is no opportunity to play a female character -- each one of the four characters available for your selection at the beginning is a male, and there is only one female who may join your party, fleetingly, and that is before you really move into your quest. Shame on Westwood in this day and age. For this transgression I sentence the writers to face a firing squad of strength 6 fireballs. Let's hope they right this wrong in the next instalment. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1995. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
386SX25, 4MB RAM, 5MB hard drive space, CD-ROM, VGA, mouse. (Also published on floppy version)