Posts Tagged ‘GOG’

Rune Classic Review

Rune Featured

Rune Boxart

Developer: Human Head Studios
Publisher: Human Head Studios
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

In 2000, Rune released on PCs. After a bit, the Halls of Valhalla expansion pack was released. From there, the game was repackaged as Rune Gold. The game was renamed and ported as Rune: Viking Warlord to PS2 in 2001. This still wasn’t the end of the road for Rune though! A “remake” of sorts came named Rune Classic, which included enemies from the PS2 game and reworked (and outright deleted) some original levels. Now that you’ve got the slightly convoluted history in your head, let’s talk about Rune Classic.

Rune Classic starts you off as a young, burly warrior named Ragnar. On the day of his initiation into the viking fold, enemies attack. Unfortunately for them, the enemies have Loki on their side and kill everyone almost instantly (except, of course, our pal Ragnar). Ragnar seeks revenge and that seems a very fitting setup for a game about vikings.

The gameplay also manages to capture what most would expect of a viking. Ragnar can wield a great deal of weapons that slash, bludgeon, and smack. Although the game is getting on in age, it still felt fluid and fast. Perhaps the only issue is a use key initially defined to Ctrl. Changing a few of the keybindings is definitely suggested for a more “modern” experience. In any case, there are a great deal of enemy types to destroy and it’s usually fun to do so!

Rune Featured

One way in which Rune Classic fails is that it isn’t particularly good at signboarding where to go next. Actually, this might be a bigger issue because of how dark some areas are. It is easy to lose your way and end up inadvertently backtracking, which is never fun. Then there’s the multiplayer which requires more effort than it should to get running. It seems like a fun way to play – if you have the tech savvy to work it out.

There are better action games to play these days, but when it comes to viking-themed titles there are far less to choose from. And some of the ones that do exist are poor, so Rune Classic is definitely a better choice. If you want to play but don’t want the “butchered” version, GOG downloads also come with Rune Gold. This isn’t the case with Steam. No matter which you choose, Rune is still a blast.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Lilly Looking Through Review

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Lilly Looking Through Boxart

Developer: Geeta Games
Publisher: Geeta Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Mac Game Store, Steam

The past few years have been really good to adventure game fans. Thanks in part to companies like Telltale Games and Kickstarter, there seems to have been a rebirth of the genre that has long since been defined “dead” by the general gaming populace. It never died, though, and there are certainly a lot of great new games making their debut! One successful Kickstarter adventure title is Lilly Looking Through which was fully funded in 2012. Have Geeta Games managed to produce a lovely point and click adventure?

Yes! At the very start, we are introduced to Lilly. This young girl has a pair of goggles that, when worn, transform the world around her. No longer are her surroundings drab and dated but colorful and full of life! Her world becomes something straight out of a picture book or an animated fantasy film and is a joy to explore. Players navigate via a point and click interface (which includes a tool to highlight selectable objects). Some adventure games cram environments with too much interactivity, but Lilly Looking Through keeps it easy.

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Well, most of the time. There are some puzzles which caused me to employ liberal use of guess and check. Although most of the puzzles aren’t this way, the ones that are tougher can become annoying. This is mostly due to the fact that Lilly takes her sweet time traversing areas and interacting with objects. Her animations are lively and all, but after seeing them the first time it becomes more of a time waster to see them on the third or fourth loop. There’s no way to skip said animations which is the main misstep.This is a small complaint, all things considered.

Geeta Games have provided a lovingly crafted point and click game. It is fairly short (from 2-6 hours for most players) but the journey is a lot of fun. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Lilly’s goggle-aided view of the world. Her delight and discovery is definitely imparted on the player. Here’s hoping that this delightful game gains a following so that maybe we’ll see more Lilly Looking Through in the future!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Ethan: Meteor Hunter Review

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Featured

Ethan - Meteor Hunter Logo

Developer: Seaven Studio
Publisher: Seaven Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG* PS3 – PSN

Platformers are a lot of fun but it can be hard to dig through the piles of samey stuff to get to innovative games in the genre. The issue gets compounded once you realize that some of the innovations made don’t improve the existing formula. Ethan: Meteor Hunter is one such game that attempts to tweak things with a neat mechanic. But does it work?

In Ethan: Meteor Hunter, you must venture through a ton of levels as a little mouse. Yes, that cute rodent is Ethan, and he’s searching for meteorite fragments scattered around the environment. These serve primarily as collectibles as you try to grab each one on every stage. But there’s more to Ethan than his anthropomorphic ways. He also has the power to stop time and manipulate objects in the environment.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Featured

How does this play out? Oftentimes, you’ll come across boxes and other items which block the way. At their easiest, all you have to do is move them aside. The difficulty progresses and requires more careful movements, sometimes interacting with other items on the screen. You might even have to make Ethan jump, pause, and move objects to keep him safe when he lands. It’s all very interesting, although it escalates in difficulty faster than might be expected.

But is there much beyond these powers to help Ethan: Meteor Hunter stand out? Unfortunately, there’s not much. The graphics are serviceable, but seem perhaps too “serious” for a game with a cute mouse lead. The music is pretty cool, although it also clashes a little with the game. Even though there are interesting pause/manipulation mechanics in play, the rest of the experience still feels like a standard platformer. It’s not bad, but not exceptional either. Still, it is exciting to see a new developer trying to do something different. Hopefully they’ll continue to push forward with changing gameplay mechanics with their future titles.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Review

Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Featured

Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Boxart

Developer: Stainless Software
Publisher: Sales Curve Interactive
Platform: PC – GOG*

Oh, Carmageddon… Alongside other hyper violent games such as Mortal Kombat, video games were becoming an incredibly divisive past time. Some parents got up in arms about the violence their children were exposed to and this of course led to the ESRB. By the time Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now came out, it received a definitive M for Mature. Instead of fearing government or parents, Stainless Software thumbed their noses at opposition and created one of the bloodiest games of the year.

Looking over reviews of the game in 1998 it seems that gamble was for the best. Reviewers seem to have nothing but praise for the lavish depictions of blood and gore. And it certainly contains copious amounts of it. But does that make Carmageddon 2 worth playing? The rest of the experience is, unfortunately, not nearly as memorable.

There are a great deal of races to participate in, but they must all be unlocked. This is done by completing at least one race in a specific group, then doing the correlated “mission” afterward. After a mission is completed the player can move onto the next grouping of races. Three difficulty settings exist although even the easiest becomes harder later on. For players who don’t want to slick the streets with human blood, there are also options to tone gore down or completely off.

Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now Screenshot

Races in Carmageddon 2 follow the same clear conditions of the original. You can either race the normal way (do a certain number of laps in time), demolish all competing racers’ cars, or kill every pedestrian on the stage. The last option might sound fun to some but is actually incredibly difficult considering they often number in the hundreds. Also, stages are fairly open-ended meaning there’s a lot to explore beyond the exact track path. To be fair, open worlds were very unusual to see in any racers of the time and only now do we really see it coming back into favor.

Controls are where any racing game must show competence and it just doesn’t feel that way here. Cars are kind of tough to control and this is only increased by the fact that players can’t easily tweak their key bindings. Well, they can, but you’ll find that it doesn’t allow you to re-bind keys to WASD. The best solution to this problem is available in the GOG forums but is definitely an extra, annoying step. At least there are a variety of wacky looking cars to drive. You just have to demolish them in a race first to unlock one.

At this point, it seems that Carmageddon 2 best serves as a memory of when game developers pushed the edge with violence. Back then, it was a scary proposition. Today, we see so much gore in games that it has totally lost that edge over most players. But just viewed as a racing game, Carmageddon 2 offers cool concepts but unrefined execution.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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The 11th Hour Review

The 11th Hour Featured

The 11th Hour Boxart

Developer: Trilobyte Games
Publisher: Night Dive Studios – Contact
Platform: PC – Amazon, DotEmu, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam

A few years after The 7th Guest came out, Trilobyte returned with a sequel. In The 11th Hour, 60 years have passed since the murders at Stauf Mansion. So what purpose does anyone have digging around in there “today”? A TV series by the name of Case Unsolved has decided the mansion would make a perfect story for their show, of course! But all the evils of the first game still exist and they ensnare the show’s producer, luring you in to (hopefully) save her before it’s too late.

The more modern telling of The 11th Hour is a boon as it leads to more “natural” acting over the original. Here we’re not simply enjoying the farce but actually getting involved in the narrative (there are still some really, really goofy moments though). Some may still find it pretty hokey, but some of the later reveals actually ensnared me. This is aided by much higher quality video quality as well which looks more like a TV show than a poorly green-screened cast. This was possible because now you rarely see characters interacting in the CG environment, although it still occurs from time to time.

The 11th Hour Featured

Despite the modern setting, The 11th Hour is still a very similar game to its predecessor. That means you’re still going to be maneuvering around via a first person point and click perspective. However, this has been updated with camera motions that make it seem like the player is actually traversing the building, rather than just looking at a series of slideshows. The pre-rendered backdrops also look better with improved textures and lighting. I’m glad that they decided to keep the finger-wagging skeleton hand cursor despite the upgrades.

New puzzle types have also been added. Now there are riddles which hint at items you must find in the house. However, as riddles, they do so in a variety of ways that never explicitly state the object’s name. Some of these riddles are pretty simple but others require serious consideration. Some were fun, and others were very un-fun. Overall, players should be prepared for a lot of anagram-based puzzles. Of course, AI puzzles are also aplenty as well as others. A few are even quite similar to puzzles in The 7th Guest, but easier.

Some of these main puzzles are incredibly difficult though. Unless you’re some sort of puzzle-solving savant, there are likely to be multiple times that giving up will seem like the best course of action. Sure, none of the puzzles are broken, but they sure like to frustrate! Thankfully, there is an option to receive hints as well as skip puzzles entirely like in the original game. The hints/skip are also now accessible from any room via a laptop. It’s convenient but you’ll still miss scenes if you cheat.

The 11th Hour Screenshot

It might seem like an oddball suggestion, but perhaps the best way to play The 11th Hour is with a friend or two. Some of these puzzles and riddles are easy to get stuck in which makes a second mind useful. In either case, if you can’t enjoy the puzzles in some regard then there’s little reason to play since that’s what the whole game is about! By having someone to play the game with it can keep frustrations minimized as well help the experience to be more enjoyable.

The 11th Hour is most definitely an improvement over The 7th Guest. There are now a variety of puzzle types to experience and only a few of them have anything to do with chess pieces! Unlike modern point and click adventures though, Trilobyte did not hold back making creative and confounding riddles and tests of player skill. Those without an appetite for straining their brain over and over again should probably skip past, but puzzle lovers will rightly find a good game here. It might be nearing 20 years old now, but The 11th Hour still packs a riddle-filled punch.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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The 7th Guest Review

The 7th Guest Featured

The 7th Guest Boxart

Developer: Trilobyte Games
Publisher: Night Dive Studios – Contact
Platform: iOS, PC – Amazon, DotEmu, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam (Reviewed)

The 7th Guest was a game far ahead of its time when it launched in 1993. At the time, games were still commonly seen on floppy discs. Unlike them, The 7th Guest was a visual feat, meaning it could only release on CD. It became the “must have” title for many gamers although they would have to buy a brand new CD drive first! Times have certainly changed since then. No longer do we view full-motion video (FMV) games as impressive, but more of a silly footnote in history.

That’s why anyone with a real interest in gaming owes it to themselves to play The 7th Guest. Sure, it is hammy and weird but this was the beginning of a new era. Someone had to try and it just happened to be Trilobyte who did it! They crafted a simple story of six (with a 7th guest coming) people in a mansion. They’ve all been invited there by a strange, eccentric man who said he would grant one of their wishes. It’s certainly not the first time such a plot has been utilized – just look at the film House on Haunted Hill. But there’s more to it than that. There are dolls… and dying children. Spooky, indeed.

The 7th Guest Featured

The adventure title takes place entirely within the mansion. Your main task is to search it from top to bottom via a point and click interface. For the most part, you seek out puzzles and, upon successful completion, are shown a story scene. Puzzles range from simple to confusing, but most can be solved with determined clicking if you don’t know how to win. It is possible to use the open book in the library for hints and to complete a puzzle if you get stuck. However, this method keeps players from viewing the respective story scene afterward. If nothing else, use the book on a certain microscope puzzle. It’s way too much of an unfair time sink!

What exactly made The 7th Guest such a standout at the time? It certainly wasn’t being a point and click adventure title, since Sierra and others were pumping out those titles for years already. The big change was to pre-rendered CG backdrops and FMV actors. How more real can you get than actual film of people playing roles? You can’t! So this was a huge deal, alongside the then gorgeous environments free for you to explore. Even now, the mansion still looks pretty good. Of course, the live scenes were compressed heavily due to space constraints. Not only that, but they are superimposed into the game with a gross “halo” about them. It doesn’t stand up to the test of time.

The 7th Guest Screenshot

The same holds true for the acting, although it’s likely they were never going for a completely serious game. Viewing it today, there’s a distinctly ridiculous charm. The story makes sense and there are honestly a few creepy touches, even if they’re outweighed by an overacting cast. The music is also seriously dated but it has some goofy charm about it as well. Aside from the credits theme though, you won’t likely search out the soundtrack after playing.

Maybe it was because of the sheer novelty or because players were immersed into the world, but a sequel by the name of The 11th Hour came out two years later. As far as production values are concerned that is the better game, but nothing beats the enthusiasm present in The 7th Guest. No, it is hardly a technical tour de force today, and doesn’t even have really great puzzles, but it is definitely a noteworthy game worth experiencing at least once.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Democracy 3 Review

Democracy 3 Featured

Democracy 3 Boxart

Developer: Positech Games
Publisher: Positech Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Sometime after going through high school, I found myself becoming interested in the workings of American government. It seemed too ridiculous on the news or complex to make any sense, so I tried to learn more about it. Of course, tuning into MSNBC, I gained a skewed perspective (as is true of most Americans and their news outlets of choice). In any case, along the way, I learned about the way a democracy is meant to function as well. With this “wealth” of knowledge, I dove into Democracy 3 expecting a fairly easy time.

It was not easy, even with a tad bit of government knowledge stored away in my brain. If anything, it seems a far more realistic simulation of government complexity than any other political games I’ve played in the past. Players are brought in with a simple tutorial but even that doesn’t aid how overwhelming the main screen with icons first appears. Each icon  represents a facet of government and has ties to other aspects that it affects. Because there are so many things a President must take care of, the screen is absolutely filled to the brim with these icons.

Democracy 3 Screenshot 1

Learning how to use them, thankfully, is easier than it would seem. Hovering over icons lets you see what they do, in case the icon images don’t give a good enough hint. Everything from controlling minute aspects of what to tax, to changing the cost of education, to enacting new laws on hot button issues is in your grasp. The main thing that you ever have to worry about is Political Capital. In game, it stands as your currency which recharges after each turn. Without enough of it, you can’t enact new policy changes.

Some tweaks might not lead to big changes but others definitely will. In particular, certain religious groups are depicted as having very serious fringe organizations that can and will assassinate you. After this happened to me, I began to consider that my role should be to please multiple groups rather than just my own gains. Of course, you can try and turn the United States into a staunch dictatorship if you really want to! Just expect to make much of your constituency very, very unhappy. It must be noted that you can choose from a handful of other governments to control, but I stuck with the US because it is the one I’m most familiar with.

Democracy 3 Screenshot 2

Part of what makes Democracy 3 “realistic” is that there is no way to win the game, or make everyone love you. It’s just not ever going to be the case. Similarly, natural or man-made disasters can wreak havoc on your approval level. Yes, it’s unfair, but that is something Presidents must contend with. Of course, realism in a political sim is great for some but will confuse or annoy others. Basically, if you don’t regularly look up political news then chances are this is not the game for you – although you might learn something by giving it a shot anyway.

The biggest criticism to lob at the game is simply that it is little more than a fancy database setup to let you play President. But then, that’s all some of us want to do. Checking the small variances in increasing or decreasing percentages of funding is enthralling for a certain mindset (such as my own). Trying to balance needs of the people versus what you believe to be “right” is a fine balancing act. Democracy 3 does an excellent job at letting the player test out just how good or bad they’d be if they had all the Presidential powers at their disposal.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm’s Revenge Review

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge Featured

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge Boxart

Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC – GOG*

Over the span of three years, Westwood Studios produced an adventure game trilogy titled The Legend of Kyrandia. The first game was a novel start, the second refined the formula, and then finally came the third title. The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm’s Revenge is meant to serve as the culmination of everything, but does it prove to be a fitting end?

Malcolm’s Revenge picks up primarily after the first game. Yes, there is a connection to it and the end of The Hand of Fate, but that’s so minimal it hardly counts. In any case, this time around you play as Malcolm. In the first game, he was the royal court jester who murdered the king! It’s likely no players really wanted to “see his side of the story” but that’s exactly what Malcolm’s Revenge revolves around. Players get a taste for Malcolm’s self-centered mindset but also see that he might not be completely horrible after all.

Each game coming from a different character’s perspective was basically expected though, as all previous games featured different protagonists. What is far less easy to swallow is the distinct shift in art direction and style. This seems due to the sudden discovery of fancy 3D graphics and polygons. Now there are CGI scenes interspersed throughout the game and backdrop elements from time to time. Most of these scenes look entirely ridiculous today. Even if they didn’t, it harms the charming pixel art that once seemed a hallmark of the Kyrandia name.

The Legend of Kyrandia Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge Featured

Even though most scenes do not employ CGI, the effort on those fronts must have taxed the art team. Pixellated backdrops don’t stand up in the least to Book 1 and 2. They’re uninspired, and at times even ugly. Because of this there’s no longer a way or reason to praise what had previously been very cool fairy tale visuals. At least we have the first two games to return to.

That’s not the only despicable part of the game, though. The worst offender is the writing which seems far less interesting than anything else the Kyrandia series has to offer. Despite being a court jester, Malcolm isn’t very funny. This is made worse by a laugh track that is prompted to play at completely inane moments. It’s rare that anything humorous ever happens to cue the laughter. It’s not even like Book 3 is meant to be a sitcom! On the plus side, the soundtrack is probably the best of the trilogy.

Malcolm’s Revenge is not a complete failure since the puzzles are still interesting, with only some aspects being annoyingly challenging. But when you compare it to the other two games it just feels like the least exciting one. If anything, most Kyrandia players would probably be best served by playing Book 1 and 2 and pretending this concluding volume never existed.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Montague’s Mount Review

Montague's Mount Featured

Montague's Mount Boxart

Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, Get Games, GOG*

Montague’s Mount is a game that reveals very little about itself when you begin. As the story starts, your character simply wakes up on a dark and dreary beach. There are pieces of wood scattered around and it seems as if you once had a boat and ended up here. The character hobbles – perhaps his leg was injured in the accident? His coughs also echo in the quiet air which makes it seem that this guy is in a lot of trouble washing up in a strange place. You find a walking stick, and then proceed. That’s all the introduction player or character receives.

This is an excellent start to a game which, unfortunately, cannot live up to its own expectations. It sure tries though. Everything about the game attempts to push a dark and mysterious atmosphere, from the mostly monochrome visuals to the sometimes eerie ambient sounds. The story is also told in small snippets, and objects are named in the Irish language Gaeilge. This all sets up a superb “feeling” for Montague’s Mount but none of this can protect against dull gameplay.

Wandering through this isolated island is ponderous. The lead character is purposefully slow and so is his interactions with everything around him. At one point, a bridge is lowered, but it creeps down at a horrendous pace. Really, this characterizes much of the game where puzzles are resolved in equally snail-like fashion. Slow events could increase tension if there were anything to fear, but that’s not the case here either. Instead, everything is monotonously paced without a good reason.

Montague's Mount Featured

Exploration is the main goal and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Players basically have to examine every object, because it’s never known what might be useful. Only necessary items can be picked up, which is convenient. There still happens to be a ton of clutter though which is fairly annoying to comb through. But if you ever lessen your extreme attention to detail then needed objects will be overlooked, only forcing you to comb through an area or two again. Whenever a game demands copious item hunts it is annoying, but definitely more so in dark environments. As you might expect, these are plentiful in Montague’s Mount.

Even those who enjoy atmospheric and slow games might find a bigger issue with this one. For some reason, Montague’s Mount has caused me (and some other players as well) to experience definite framerate issues. Without them, I’m certain it would have been easier to tolerate the game, but the common 20 FPS or so really made other issues readily apparent. Some have reported no hitches when playing, but there doesn’t appear to be a demo to test out first.

To me, Montague’s Mount is a game that seriously could have been great but has turned out to be a very flawed creation. Puzzles usually only require fetching an item and using it, but that is hardly compelling gameplay. Of course, when finding some items can be difficult it just serves to annoy rather than immerse anyone into the world. Of course, the technical issues I encountered made it a nearly unbearable gameplay experience. It’s really sad to see a game with such promise end up this way, but they can’t all be winners.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Legend of Kyrandia Book Two: The Hand of Fate Review

Legend of Kyrandia Book Two: The Hand of Fate

Legend of Kyrandia Book Two: The Hand of Fate Boxart

Developer: Westwood Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PC – GOG*

Westwood Studios crated an interesting adventure series back in the 90s via The Legend of Kyrandia. Spanning three games, it drew in existing fans of the point and click genre as well as pulling in new players. New fans were forged thanks in part to the fanciful visuals and was mostly free of incomprehensible puzzles. For many, The Legend of Kyrandia Book Two: The Hand of Fate stands as the high point of the trilogy. I’m inclined to agree!

Book Two begins with narration from previous protagonist Brandon. Out of nowhere, it seems that the realm of Kyrandia is slowly disappearing! However, Brandon can’t do a thing about it. This time, alchemist Zanthia must save her beloved home from being zapped into complete nothingness. Zanthia is a far more resourceful and endearing protagonist than Brandon and provides witty banter along her journey. Weirdly, the developers seemed keen on the running gag of Zanthia requiring costume changes at multiple points. At least there’s no pixellated nudity to speak of, since she is able to conjure up new outfits immediately.

In comparison to Book One, Kyrandia is now a much vaster kingdom. You aren’t forced to go through screens that are 75% forest now. Instead, there are now multiple, very different looking regions to explore. Each is distinct and includes different characters to interact with and puzzles to solve. Overall though, Zanthia’s main puzzle mechanic remains the same throughout.

Legend of Kyrandia Book Two: The Hand of Fate

Players must flip through Zanthia’s spellbook/cookbook which allows her to conjure up various spells. So far as spells go it is pretty easy to know when you need to cast what. The issue lies with collecting all the ingredients necessary! Sometimes this can be tough, but usually you can find all ingredients with a little ingenuity. Players won’t have to worry about rifling through massive inventories either because Zanthia regularly empties her inventory when entering a new area, signifying the old objects are not needed from then on. Of course, sometimes you’ll still need to find new items to replace the old ones (such as flasks to hold the potions).

It seems Book Two is so loved because it improves The Legend of Kyrandia in the most important ways. The expanded world looks fanciful and creative, just as it should. With a simplified main puzzle mechanic it’s also easier to know how to resolve most problems. Finally, we have the heroic Zanthia who saves Kyrandia all the while still taking the time to laugh at the entire ridiculous predicament. As far as new fans are concerned, it also serves as an excellent starting point as it only has a slight connection to the first (and third) games.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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