Sunday, November 13, 2016

Legends Of Valour

Brace yourself for a 16-bit adventure like no other!

Legends Of Valour is one of the last Atari ST games I bought and it received relatively favourable reviews. I was smitten by its depth and longevity not to mention the first-person aspect and superb packaging!

The journey begins in the city of Mitteldorf in search of our missing cousin, Sven. He previously set out to find his fortune and is now missing - what an idiot. Anyhow, it's been far too long since anybody heard from him and thus, our adventure begins. Firstly, you should design your character's appearance, clothing, and armament.

This means you can choose to be human, dwarf or elf with each offering a different style and objectives. Select hair, eyes, nose and so on to create your demi-god or perhaps your character will end up looking like a freak?

It's not long until somebody nice and welcoming greets the new traveller.

Get lost an amazing world!

Once you're dandy, enter the city and heed the advice from the friendly local who pops up for a chat. I would first advise you to take the time to explore and familiarise yourself with your surroundings because this is such a massive place and you will need necessary amenities, like safe lodgings, income, beer to sup, and grub to nosh.

Mitteldorf is a fortress city, populated with interesting characters, secretive guilds, curious places, and even a labyrinth of dungeons hidden deep underground. Of course, these are waiting to be explored, but be careful because you might not like what you find down there. Your cousin wrote a letter which nicely explains his story, why not take a read? Perhaps it features hidden hints that should help you along your journey. Heck, you never know!

All exploration is through a first-person engine not too dissimilar to a shooter like Wolfenstein with fully texture-mapped graphics - a testament to what our 16-bit computer can knock out. This can be configured in three sizes, small, medium and large. Any ST will be fine but the largest setting requires a 16MHz computer.

Initially, the interface is scary due to the huge number of icons but soon becomes intuitive and easy to use. Wandering the city is feasible using the GUI's icons but it can become a little laborious due to the immense size of the play area so a right-click will activate mouse control to unlock its full potential. Which is tremendous.

However, not everyone is going to be nice and helpful...

Chill, relax, chat with the yocals

Legends Of Valour isn't something you simply play - you live it. Life here is completely open-world, a "sandbox" adventure, where you are free to roam and do almost anything you want. This has always been a fascinating concept for me and, although this is an early example of the genre, it works extremely well.

Exploring Mitteldorf is exciting and bursting with fun characters, monsters, temples, stores, taverns, employment and more. I love the Olde English medieval setting which is portrayed and experienced in real-time, so day and night pass by with their own consequence. All the usual requirements we have in life also exist here: eating, sleeping, health and our personal safety when in dodgy locations - especially late at night. I find refuge in a few ales at The Hanged Man tavern is often the best option, but perhaps that's me? Just don't get too tipsy and end up in lockup!


Mitteldorf has lots of interesting places to trade, eat dodgy food and read messages...

Explore and turn over every stone

This game is humungous and not something to play on one boring afternoon. Learning the city of Mitteldorf alone can be overwhelming, so make notes and a basic key to complement the official map. So much can be learned by communicating with your fellow citizens so get chatting with them over a beer or perhaps those strange folk that appear to aimlessly wander the streets. Remember, you're living inside this 'RPG' so experience it!

However, be prepared to defend yourself when set on by anyone from the King's faithful knights in shining armour. Even a little old lady can throw a barrage of humorous insults before giving you a good slap which is rather unexpected, I can say. There's only one thing left to do - slap her back!! (tell me you're not tempted?)

You are limited only by your own imagination and desire to explore. Live this game.

Arghh!! I've been caught being dodgy (yet again) and thrown down before the King's mercy.

The CryptO'pinion?

Legends Of Valour is something special and offers a vibrant and exciting place to live. So many cool characters, taverns to frequent, secret guilds to master, monster-infested dungeons to plunder, and then jobs or missions are always on offer. This game has it all and, as you begin to make progress and delve deeper, you soon realise just how much more potential there is just waiting to be discovered. Heck, I had almost forgotten to search for Sven!

Oh yes, I love wandering Mitteldorf but, nothing is perfect and I feel Legends Of Valour lacks in a couple of areas: the battles could have been executed better and it's disappointing to discover most buildings are (visually) empty. Also, audio is limited to spot effects which is a shame considering the number of disks in the box, I think some ambient samples or more varied chippy fx could have tremendously improved the atmosphere, especially during the night scenes.

Legends Of Valour is an incredible and a massively enthralling adventure. Allow yourself to get lost in this immensely rewarding world because it is fantastic and certainly one of my favourite Atari ST RPG/Adventure games, ever.

This is best ran from a hard drive so use 8BitChip.
Those stuck with the floppy should try
Old Games Finder.

A city map and clue book ... and I had fun in October!!

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