Companions of Xanth is a fantasy/adventure game based on the series of books by Piers Anthony. You play the role of Dug, a young man whose friend challenges him to a bet: play a new computer game and try not to like it. While Dug may have liked it, I have mixed feelings.
The game starts out with you sitting at your desk; after a phone conversation with your friend, you can begin playing -- and the first frustrating thing happens. You are asked to choose a companion to guide you through the game, your choice being between Nada the Naga, Che the Centaur, Metria the Demoness, or Jenny the Elf and her pet cat Sammy. While this may appear to be the beginning of some cool non-linear gameplay, in reality this choice is entirely rigged, because if you pick anyone but Nada, you die before you leave the first room. Non-choices like this are all over the game, as well as several items you can pick up but which are never used and just take up space.
As in the books, pretty much everything in this game is built around puns (yes, puns). For example, in the caverns of the Earth Realm, you come across a door that's partially open. When you click on it, the game tells you it's "a door ajar". If you click Take, it turns into a jar (the glass kind) and you put it into your inventory. While this is amusing at first, it just gets annoying after a while, and raises a common argument against adventure games: the puzzles don't make sense (I found it impossible to beat the game without a walkthrough). In this case, the game seems to do it on purpose, in order to keep up the pun-based gameplay, but if you judge it based on standard adventure game criteria it just doesn't hold its own. This realm becomes even more frustrating because it is essentially one big maze. All the rooms look pretty much the same, so the only way to get through them is to use the map. It just felt like a massive waste of time.
However, there are some nice things I can say: The game uses the same interface as Superhero League of Hoboken, so navigating through areas is very easy. Unfortunately, this also means that throughout the whole game you'll be looking at pre-painted backgrounds with only some parts that animate, and some unfortunate full motion video sequences. Yet, despite all of the game's flaws, my love for the books wouldn't permit me to hate it entirely. I may be totally biased, but I think an open mind and an interest in fantasy should be enough to find some enjoyment here. \
The game runs relatively well in DOSBox, but I would recommend using Ctrl + F12 to crank the CPU cycles up, or the FMV sequences can be a little jerky.