Gorasul: Legacy Of The Dragon

Presenting little originality or flair, Gorasul just isn’t that compelling.

Most of what’s enjoyable in Baldur’s Gate or Icewind Dale is here, though in a somewhat watered-down form. Call it Icewind Dale Lite or Baldurstadt Gate, good for those looking for a role-playing adventure set in a large and open-ended world, but without the complexities of managing a multi-class, multi-race D&D party. If only the story was better, and the combat, and the character system, and a host of many other things. Still, as a hack-and-slash adventure, Gorasul succeeds mostly by virtue of its imitation, despite some strangely translated dialogue, system-crashing bugs, and clunky design decisions.

One enjoyable thing about Gorasul is that it’s not a D&D ripoff, or at least not in its entirety. That subtle Germanic folk influence just manages to slip through the hordes of zombies, skeleton warriors, green-skinned orcs and dragons, and one could only wish the game was more in touch with its Teutonic identity instead of trying to mimic every other high fantasy role-playing game out there. We have instead the story of our dragon-weaned hero, Raszondas, who can be played as either a warrior, mage or several in-between class combinations.

The game has that dark fantasy feel.

The core game is about exploration, conversation, quests, and combat. As you collect better stuff, your character encounters increasingly dangerous enemies. Darkened catacombs hide buried treasures (and not so subtle zombies). Helpful townsfolk request strange, hard-to-find objects just to keep you busy. Local town merchants tempt you with their overpriced wares and new areas are gradually unlocked as you unfold the story and explore the world. You travel between areas using a handy world map, crossing locations that branch off into new places which are then, in turn, revealed on your map for later travel.

The game breaks from Dungeons & Dragons tradition with dragon skills that enhance your character’s combat abilities. Roszondas can only use these gifts when he is nearing death, but they pack a mighty punch. Your ability to deftly attack your foes with dragon wizardry and then heal up for another assault will often determine the success of battle. Leveling up provides a whole new set of experience points to divide between your standard abilities and the dragon skills.

30Add to that a party system which lets you control up to three other characters. Of course you don’t need to babysit them constantly, but instead can choose to pre-program their combat behavior via a dialog tree (think: Fallout 2) or have them stay out of combat entirely. Having party members around won’t make things too easy – they’re initially weak characters, need time to build up, cost a lot of money to revive (should they get killed) and their earned experience is divided among all members.

Mingling with various townsfolk or fellow vagrant travelers will often yield various quests, but their structure is suspiciously rigid for a role-playing game. Too often there is only one solution to a quest, and no way to screw things up by choosing the wrong response. The game events unfold in a somewhat rigid fashion, and the combat sequences are overly repetitive. On top of that, lengthy conversations with the game’s denizens are sometimes poorly translated from their native German. Your sidekick sword announces that it will “split your enemies in two real fast.” Upon meeting a Kobold warrior, you engage him in combat and emerge victorious. “You just won because big warrior not in shape,” he proclaims.

While it borrows heavily from the Baldur’s Gate bag of tricks, Gorasul is an altogether mixed package. The isometric world looks excellent but the characters and their animations are awkward. Stats are easy to grasp but they’re not all that rewarding to toy around with, unlike in Diablo (the same mediocrity applies to the combat system as well – it’s just not very exciting). Gorasul does have its occasional moments of pleasure for those needing a quaint role-playing adventure, but just barely.

System Requirements: P II 350 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, 8 MB Video, 600 MB HDD, Win98

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