Amberstar is the first epic adventure in an unfinished trilogy by the German company Thalion. The second part of the trilogy was never released for PC, which is a pity. This game is huge and colorful, with cartoon graphics and music that isn't perfect but still does a nice job. There is a big map (included among the extras) you will need to explore and many places for you to visit before you reach the ending.
There once was a black-haired boy called Tar, who lived in a small village called Forkbrook. He looked different from the other villagers. His appearance always got him into trouble, and he was bullied by other children. Because of this, he spent most of his time on his own, exploring the beautiful forest near the village. One day, Tar left his home early in the morning in order to go deeper into the woods. He walked all morning, until he reached a clearing he had never seen before. At that moment, rain started pouring down, and there was a storm coming, so Tar sought shelter in a cave not far from the clearing. Exploring that cave changed Tar's life forever. He ran home, and on his way he met some children who started teasing him again. One of them tried to hit him, but Tar felt a surge of energy and raised his hands to the boy's chest. The next thing he saw was the boy lying on the ground, his mouth filled with blood.
This upset many of the villagers and they sought to kill him, but Tar's father took him to the wizard Latheoz. There, Tar became a Seeker of Perilous Knowledge and found his true demonic nature. This is how Tarbos, Lord of Chaos, came into being, and the land of Lyramion had never before been in as much danger as it was then. Great evil in the shape of Tarbos was threatening to wipe all living creatures from the face of the earth and raise the dead. However, the plans of Tarbos never came about. Great wizards of the land created an artifact of immense power - the Amberstar. With it, and with help from the King's daughter Mylneh, the wizards finally managed to trap Tarbos and banish him to the third moon along with all other demons. The only way to set Tarbos free from his third-moon prison would be to perform the counter-spell inside the castle of Godsbane, which could only be entered using the Amberstar, so the Amberstar was divided into thirteen pieces. The twelve wizards had one piece each, and Mylneh kept the center piece.
All this happened 1000 years ago, but recently, a wizard called Marmion was studying the scrolls when the evil lord Tarbos managed to take control over him and make a pact with him. With Tarbos' help, Marmion defeated the paladins guarding Godsbane, teleported himself into the castle and is now preparing to cast the counter-spell to free Tarbos from the third moon... But there is hope yet, because there is a hero who can stop the evil Marmion, and that hero is you. Find the thirteen pieces of the Amberstar, enter the castle Godsbane and defeat Marmion!
Amberstar is a classic epic RPG. There are two modes in which a player can explore. The first one, a 3D view, you will encounter in towns and other special places like towers, dungeons, homes etc. When you move in this mode, an automap will be displayed, showing you the places you have seen and the places you have not yet visited. To leave this mode, you will have to reach the exit. There are some big cities in Lyramion, such as Twinlake (where you will start), Crystal, the city of Paladins and many more that you will find on your journeys. There are several ways of traveling: The first - and easiest - is on foot, but you need to watch your step. You can also buy a horse from the stables, or you can travel by ship - if you manage to get the 5000 gold pieces together. However, the best way of traveling is by the flying eagle or magic disk. There are also teleport wing gates all over the land.
The Battle System:
The battles in Amberstar are turn-based. You give a set of orders to your party members and then press the 'turn' button to execute those orders. You can attack, parry, use magic, flee and so on. If your battle is a success, you will acquire some experience points and get the loot.
You will start with the main hero, whose attributes you may adapt to your needs. The other characters will be encountered during the game, and you will have to find them first. When starting the game, the first thing you should do is assemble a party, because it will not be easy to complete missions with just two or three characters. This is why you should travel first, in order to find some comrades. By winning battles and completing quests, you will earn experience points, which are needed to raise your character level. The other thing you will need to watch out for is food. Always check if you have the proper amount of food on you, especially while you're traveling across the map.
The graphics aren't the strong point of the game, but there are some differences between the Amiga and PC versions - the PC version has worse graphics, but that isn't very surprising. The music is atmospheric and does a fine job for the game. Pay attention to some tunes you will hear in the dungeons, as they are very catchy. The gameplay, on the other hand, is very intuitive, the mouse being the only controlling device. The only annoying thing is the "ouch" message whenever you bump into chairs, tables and other things, but you will get used to it.
Amberstar is huge, and if you decide to play it until the end, it will take a long time. The strong point of the game is the freedom of movement that you have. There are some annoying things, but they shouldn't bother you too much and they can easily be ignored.