The Legend of Kyrandia, Book Two: The Hand of Fate
Westwood released this game just over a year after the adventures of Brandon in Kyrandia I. It was a much-improved game, longer and more complex, and it was a smart move to retire the dreary Brandon in favour of sparkling Zanthia. Along with Laura Bow, and Rosella of Sierra's King's Quest Series, and Doralice of Lost in Time, Zanthia was one of the first female protagonists to step onto the adventure game stage.
It all begins with Kyrandia disappearing bit by bit. A slice of land here, a tree there; some rocks, and sundry landmarks. A council is called to decide just what to do. The Court Mystics are baffled, but luckily The Hand has experience in such matters and determines that someone must travel to the centre of the world to retrieve a magic anchor stone. Zanthia is elected to do the job and, despite her tender age, she is a fitting choice. She can tie a swamp creature in knots at a single stroke ... the slimeball ... and she can change her clothes with pizzazz, and with impunity. She's not afraid to show her feelings as she flings her arms wide in anguish on discovering that someone has trashed her home and robbed her blind.
Of course this untimely act of vandalism (or is it sabotage) complicates matters. Now she can't simply create a portal to the centre of the world, she has to get there by a longer and more eventful pathway. After scrounging a couple of useful items from her destroyed house, you accompany Zanthia on her weighty mission.
Hand of Fate is a point and click game and you must be thorough with your pointing and clicking because items in the gameworld are not tagged to indicate that they might be useful. Just click on likely candidates and Zanthia will pick them up if she can. She doesn't even need to be near them, but then mystics do have some extraordinary powers.
A small revolving shelf sits at the bottom of the screen for Zanthia to collect up various goodies. She will also need to find some of her precious belongings discarded by the thieves. Her spell book for starters but, alas, it's been ripped to pieces and only a few kiddie spells remain. If you're lucky you might find another page or two but you'll have to make do with such concoctions as The Sandwich Spell, The Snowman Spell or the one for making a Swampsnake Potion. A lot of the gameplay consists of finding spell/potion ingredients, and occasionally some improvisation or word play is called for in finding just the right one. However, as only spells or potions beginning with the letter "s" are intact some problems will have to be solved in the ordinary way such as crossing an abyss or working out a colour code. And, incidentally, there is no magic spell to solve the Tower of Hanoi puzzle at the end of the game.
Dating from 1993 you can't, of course, expect present day graphical standards with Hand of Fate. Although the graphics are somewhat pixelated they are bright and colourful, and Kyrandia is a magical, fairy tale world just waiting to be explored. For this review I played my old disc version of the game so there were no voices except for a commentary in the opening sequence. I had to read text captions for all the dialogue but there is also a CD version with voices added. I can't comment on the voice acting but the dialogue is amusing and Zanthia often has something witty to say when you click on an object or prompt her to do something. Of course, being an 'old time' traditional adventure there are a number of wacky characters to meet and engage in conversation ... some are there to hinder, some will give you a helping hand if you're nice.J
It's a cute little game, worth playing if you're fated to get your hands on it. Despite having to do a bit of excess clicking due to the lack of feedback from the gameworld, it's fairly easy to find what you want, and it's fun looking around anyway. The puzzles range from easy to moderately difficult so you'll breeze along for a while then slow down when the going gets tougher.
Zanthia's journey in Hand of Fate might be longer than Brandon's in Kyrandia I, but it's not too long, and time passes quickly when you're having fun. I really enjoyed the 12 or so hours I spent replaying this one. I remembered some of the puzzle solutions but some still stumped me the second time around. There's a sense of fun throughout the game but remember to save often because Zanthia can die if you really try hard to get rid of her. Her antics will give you some laughs so you'll want to risk life and limb and try everything anyway.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 2003.
All rights reserved.
Win 3.1 (Reviewed in Win 98), 486 25 MHZ or faster, 8 MB RAM, VGA, Mouse, (2x CD ROM).
Also published on floppy disk.