The fourth instalment of the Quest for Glory franchise is up next. Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness.
Ok so you beat the Demon Wizard, stopped the demon invasion, prevented war and then… you get transported to some strange dimly lit cave full of bones. Right, this adventure is off to a good start!
Escaping the cave you meet a beautiful yet mysterious young woman named Katrina who informs you that you are in the distant, Slavic/Russian inspired land of Mordavia. Right there and then you just know people are going to be called things like Boris, Dimitri, and Anna. Upon staggering into the town you are greeted by Dimitri (told you) the town mayor. Instead of the hero’s greeting you expect, you find yourself met with universal mistrust and fear by all the locals, who claim that your story of waking up in the cave is impossible.
So what’s up with these hicks? Well, turns out they are plagued by night terrors, namely the Nosferatu. Great. According to the townsfolk and some old dusty books you find in the adventurers guild and monastery, an evil cult of deranged monks once tried to summon a terrible being, Avoozl The Dark One, to this land and the cave you escaped from is directly linked to this cult.
It takes you some time and general hero-ing to figure out what the deal is and what you have to do here but you are soon caught up in a fight against a familiar face. Ad Avis is back, transformed into a vampire, along with his “Dark Master” and together they are trying to summon Avoozl to bring endless night to the land so they no longer need to fear the light. Well, it’s up to you to shed some light on this situation.
Quest For Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness combines both the old exploration system and the updated Quest for Glory III interface. There is no “world” map and instead you move from screen to screen as you wander through the gloomy landscape. Graphically it uses the same engine that Quest for Glory III: Wages of War used with a few minor cosmetic tweaks. What does set the system apart from the previous games is its side scrolling, almost arcade style, combat screen. Also if you are too lazy to battle the monsters you can select auto-battle. While this is not always the best idea you can to a degree emulate your own style of fighting by adjusting various sliders to control your characters aggressiveness, defence and magic use. The enemies you battle range from Necrotaurs (undead bulls), zombies and wraiths to wyverns and even vorpal bunnies.
While it is not the first game in the series to make use of animated portraits during conversations, Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness is however the first game in the series to be voiced. It has a quality voice cast of established video game voice artists with a notable appearance by John Rhys-Davies (Gimli: Lord of the Rings, Sallah: Indiana Jones) as the narrator. Rhys-Davies’ deep, rich voice makes some dialogue all the more ominous and many of the jokes so much funnier.
As with Quest for Glory III: Wages of War the character select screen and stats screen stay much the same, with the addition of a few new skills like Acrobatics. Importing a character also allows you to import a Paladin into the game. It must be said that in Quest for Glory IV the Paladin is a much harder character to play with than in the previous game or the following one. With some very unique puzzles and side quests the Paladin is sure to challenge a player.
Ad Avis is also not the only familiar face encountered in this game as Baba Yaga, Bonehead (her talking skull) and her chicken-legged hut are also to be found. At the very end of the game there is also a cameo appearance by two slightly annoying yet highly lovable characters. You are also sure to encounter many unique folkloric creatures such as Domovoi, Igors, the Leshy, Gypsies and even a Rusalka, the lady of the lake (No Arthur, this watery bint is NOT going to lob a scimitar at you!) all of whom help or hinder you in some way, sometimes doing both at the same time.
Unfortunately the game is notoriously buggy and flawed but there are a few decent patches that should sort out most if not all problems you may encounter.
Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness with its involved story, gothic overtones and gloomy atmosphere is a brilliant addition to the series and sure to enthral anyone who enjoyed any of the previous games in the series.