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Download Knights of Legend

Knights of Legend
 
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1655 kb
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Knights of Legend hails from that difficult era in the mid to late 80s that gave us Windwalker, Space Rogue and Times of Lore, when Origin systems was experimenting with the rpg genre and trying to make the Ultima lightning strike twice. It was released on the C64, Apple II, and PC to polarising reviews, with the PC version widely regarded as the best of the 3 because the other 2 were the kind of agonizing multi-disk swapping nightmares that were probably spawned by a developer who's HQ is based in Innsmouth.
 
It's a big game for '89 both in terms of scope and features. It's an icon driven, party based, open world rpg with a complex combat system and extensive supporting literature. There's unique static artwork for every building and NPC in the game, shops full of superfluous red herring items that do nothing except pad out the game world, and to top it off there's a portrait editor, spell creator, coat of arms designer, custom weapon maker, and expansion disk support.

KoL definitely throws a lot at the wall and some of it sticks, but more often than not it bounces back and hits the player in the face. The expansion disks never surfaced so half the weapon skill trainers are useless, the coat of arms is used once on a certain item very late in the game, the weapon maker is basically just entering a name (you don't even get to choose what type of weapon it is, so I hope you picked the right skill 30+ hours ago....) and although the spell maker is clever idea it boils down to single target, pick race to effect -> pick stat to modify -> pick power -> pick range.

Character creation consists of selecting a race, sex, and background which determines starting stats and skills. There's no class or level system and no character progression beyond 4 weapon skills and social rank. Anyone playing might want to check an FAQ first, because there's a whole host of arbitrary requirements and skill caps present (for example, the only requirement for spellcasting is int > 69) that the manual doesn't bother to mention.

KoL's dedication to avoiding explaining anything is one of it's Achilles heels. A bit of mystery is nice in a game, but KoL seems to needlessly obscure vital information for the sake of it. Once you get past the fluffy exterior it's a pretty standard party based crpg :- Create a party, wander around town in top down perspective talking to npcs to find a quest, train, buy stuff, and then set off into the wilderness for an adventure, but the whole game is full of half baked ideas and odd design quirks that employ a bizarre time-consuming logic. For example something as simple as sharing money requires you to buy an item, pass it to another character, and then sell it.
 
The combat is equally problematic. On the surface it has a lot of depth, a tactical turn-based system with each character selecting attack styles, targeting body parts, and defensive strategies based on their ability to predict the opponents actions via a combination of skill, foresight and intelligence. However in practice it takes a minute or 2 to play each combat round, particularly during larger battles which can last for dozens of rounds, so the whole thing ends up crawling along with the pace of an arthritic glacier.

Instead of the traditional hit-point mechanics KoL uses fatigue, which regenerates each round. Every action from moving to spellcasting has a stamina cost modified by encumbrance and injury - Even the strongest warrior will tire after about 3-4 rounds of swinging a greatsword in full plate armor, which adds a nice tactical element to the proceedings and encourages you to find a good balance between offensive and defensive measures if you want to make any progress.

There's 24 adventures to find in order to 'complete' the game which add a bit of variety to the game by forcing you to explore ruined keeps and tidal caverns, but they're all essentially just extended encounters with a quest mcguffin stuffed in that accentuate the tortuously slow combat by throwing in exploration elements and large maps into a turn-based scenario that only permits a character to move 1-2 squares each round, assuming they don't blunder into each other in a tight corridor like the 3 Stooges and waste their turn altogether.

The graphics are good for EGA, particularly the static screens which really help to flesh out the game world. The sound is practically non-existent outside the odd beep from the PC speaker.

Looking back at KoL without the nostalgia goggles, it's hard not to pick it apart for all it's flaws. At times it feels like someone has made a heartfelt attempt to translate the depth and feel of a tabletop rpg on to a computer without fully understanding how either works. Much like Darklands it's an epic adventure that you have to admire for it's sheer scope and ambition even if the technical execution wasn't up to task. With hindsight Knights of Legend tried to do too much with too little, for every high point a player encounters there's a ravine full of rotting corpses around the next bend, and ultimately it paid the price and faded into obscurity.

The manual is more fluff than substance, but the map is almost essential if you want to locate the adventure locations.


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Reviewed by: Vic6 / Screenshots by: TotalAnarchy / Uploaded by: S.Wolf / share on facebook
 

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