Quest for Glory games might as well be buses. You sit there waiting for one to come along, find yourself waiting for too long (sixteen years in the QG case) and then suddenly four come along at one time. Quest for Infamy takes the series and glorifies the bad guys, with delightful results.
Quest for Glory was all the rage back in the early 1990s (making it nearly as old as my grey-haired self). Now, Quest for Infamy takes the best of the series and parodies it, creating a hilarious title that will have young and old fans alike in glee.
If you’ve not played one of the games in the series then here’s what you need to know: Quest for Glory games are huge, with expansive worlds, character stats, questionable combat mechanics and multiple paths. Classes have unique weapons and special attacks, unique stories and unique regions of the game-world that only they are able to see. Different classes have to use their skills in different ways to overcome various obstacles and puzzles, with the sorcerer, for example, being able to fly while the Brigand has an almighty chopper to dispatch villains with. While the plot of the story remains the same for each class, everything else changes. As you can tell, Quest for Glory games are typically epic, and they’re not easy for any game developer to replicate.
Quest for Infamy does not shy away from paying respects to its forebears. The amount of work that has gone into this game’s development is truly impressive, with much love and attention being applied to every aspect of the game. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is the game world itself, which features a veritable candy store of different environments and locations, from mountains to woods to caves and so on, all of which feature enough detail to make Tolkein himself proud. This is, perhaps, the most ambitious indie game that I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing (and it is indeed a pleasure). While the terribly awful voice acting, which at times is so bad it renders one to tears of hysterics, everything else about the presentation is spellbinding.
“I’ve got big boobs. Are you here to help me?”
And yet, despite all the hard work and the excellent presentation, Quest for Infamy is not without the odd hiccough. The biggest of those hiccoughs is lead character Roehm. He’s supposed to be a villain, but he’s woefully lacklustre. He’s naughty, at times, and a little rude, but there’s far from enough villainy in his spirit. He becomes something of an empty shell of a character. Worst of all, he appears bored of his own surroundings. This is a terrible mistake in any kind of story. No character should ever be bored of their surroundings. Or, if they are, they shouldn’t be so for long. Why? Because when the lead character becomes bored, the player does too. The protagonist of a game is the psychological keyhole, the bridge between the gamer’s imagination and the game itself. The entire purpose of a protagonist is to produce sympathy. But when we’re sympathising with a character who is bored, we too become bored.
I could talk on about the boredom of the protagonist for a long time, but that would be—well, boring. So I’ll come to a rapid conclusion: the team have failed to realise their character. He should have been an over the top villain who completely glorifies villainy, but he comes across as a naughty, confused and bored adolescent. Lacking any palpable sort of objective, the protagonist lacks motivation, and because the protagonist lacks motivation, so too does the player.
In a woeful attempt to correct for this, Quest for Infamy has its secondary characters firing verbal shots at one another. “You’re a bastard,” for instance. Eck. Terible dialogue. A “bastard”? Give us a new insult. Dialogue is really not this game’s forte. Good dialogue means a) concise b) intelligent c) original and d) wrapped in what literati call “stakes.” Quest for Infamy fails on all accounts.
But perhaps I’m being a bit of a bastard here. Being a writer I tend to get bogged down with a game’s writing. But at the end of the day, writing is only a part of a game (and unfortunately often not an important part).
Have at thee bear!
Take the writing aside and you’ve got yourself a fantastic adventure. The design is beautiful and the game world is immersive. There’s always tons of stuff happening in the game world (like executions, political upheaval leaving certain lands inaccessible and so on). There’s the sense that the game’s world is alive and changing every moment. This creates a palpable sense of believability. You truly feel you’re involved in the action.
Voice over and dialogue aside, there’s really very few other complaints I have with this game. It’s a solid RPG and one heck of an adventure. You’re going to love it, even though you will, from time to time, laugh your ass of at some glaringly obvious flaws.
But all in all, Quest for Infamy is a thrilling, engrossing and utterly spectacular adventure, even if it is (like its protagonist) a little rough around the edges.