Dragon Lore: The Legend Begins

Snap133Cryo’s very clunky retro adventure.

Dragon Lore features the slideshow movement typical in all Myst clones, though it does stray in other areas. Unlike Myst, you can interact with characters. You can use, equip and drop items via a drag and drop inventory. Plus there’s a magic system and a spell book. In short, the game’s presentation is one more akin to that of an RPG than a traditional point and click adventure.

As Werner Von Wallenrod, you’re an 18-year old farm hand with an attitude and a punk-rock hairstyle. After some puzzles and exposition, you eventually discover that you’re one in a long line of Dragon Knights, an exclusive club with only twelve living members. To get admitted you have impress the other Dragon Knights. In true adventure gaming fashion, you do this by figuring out a gauntlet of puzzles, and how you solve them will earn you the good will (or ire) of the other Dragon Knights supervising you.

Snap79The vote is possibly one of the game’s more subtle touches. Throughout the game you get multiple solutions to puzzles, and the methods by which you’ll solve them will land you on either one of two roads – the path of violence, or the path of wisdom. Complications arise along the way as you find that some Dark Knights had grievances with your father. But even after you find out who is for you and who is against, you can still affect the outcome of the vote by offing your naysayers.

Unlike Myst, there’s an inventory system (toggled by right-clicking on the upper-left corner of the screen) where you can store and equip items. There are different types of armor and weapons that can be equipped, changed or discarded, though the combat system is understandably primitive (you can skip some fights by running past enemies, thankfully). The magic system, accessed through a spellbook found early on, contains a number of spells which you activate by combining runes – the combination to these spells are found over the course of the game.

Some low points of the game include the visuals, which are painfully mediocre. The animations, environments, characters – everything is unappealing. Granted, 3D was really lousy back then and you couldn’t hope for much computer-rendered photo realism, but part of the problem has to do with bad artistry, not just limited technology. Myst, which is one year older and serves as the game’s primary inspiration, looks a good deal better while using similar rendering software.

Snap139Another staple limitation of Myst clones is the lacking interactivity. Rarely will you find an item that isn’t central to solving some puzzle or another, even with Dragon Lore’s secondary role-playing angle. Most of the time you walk through empty, barren wastes. To their credit, the designers did try to make the game’s navigation less confusing than in Myst. When you move or turn, the movements are incremental, so you always have a good idea where you are. Plus you can examine your surroundings around each path node.

Dragon Lore will take more patience than the average Myst clone to get into. It’s neither role-playing nor typical adventure, but in that odd brew is a game with some merit.

System Requirements: 486 33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, DOS

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