By Brad Williams / July 22nd, 2014
|Title||Quest for Infamy|
|Publisher||Phoenix Online Studios|
|Release Date||July 10, 2014|
|Age Rating||Not Rated|
In the works for over eight years, Quest for Infamy promised a classic adventure/RPG hybrid in the vein of the Quest for Glory series. Setting Infamous Adventures’ game apart from the classic Sierra series was the promise of, well… infamy. The thought of playing one of these heroic adventures from the point of view of a less-than-righteous character sounds like a lot of fun, but Quest for Infamy only delivers on part of its potential.
The game begins as the main character, William Roehm, has escaped the Baron’s castle after maybe possibly sleeping with the man’s daughter. Roehm finds his way to the village of Volksville, where he is introduced to the local law enforcement as a public execution leaves a man beheaded for theft. After this gruesome example is set, Roehm pretty much has free reign of the town and surrounding valley, and quickly runs into characters who offer information to the newcomer.
Some of the townsfolk in Quest for Infamy are a bit more than simple shopkeepers, and Roehm will come across three who will offer to teach him the path of the Brigand, Sorcerer and Thief. Like Quest for Glory, which inspired this game, Quest for Infamy does not just offer classes as a way to differentiate combat. The classes approach huge parts of the game in different ways. For instance, the path of the Thief will find Roehm stealing from various houses in the town to fill his pockets, while the path of the Sorcerer requires the player to search the countryside for reagents that will help his teacher, Prospero, teach him new spells.
The three classes open up new opportunities in puzzle solving, as well. If a group of enemies is blocking your path, you might try to cast a Fear spell as a sorcerer. If you’re a thief, maybe you’re a bit more sneaky and coax a wild animal to chase them away. As a brigand, you don’t have time for any of that guile, so just go threaten them with your blade. The paths opened up by the classes create a bit of replayability as you can explore the game in different ways on future playthroughs.
This is good, because the combat is not terribly fun. You have three basic attacks (stab, slash and hack), as well as a block which can heal Roehm if successful. Each class has its own special abilities, as well, like the sorcerer’s spells or the thief’s backstab. You have a limited window to select an attack before the enemy takes a turn, and early on, combat is extremely punishing. It quickly becomes survivable, and, eventually, almost pointless, but this iteration of turn-based combat is just not fun.
Luckily, Quest for Infamy‘s charm is worth slogging through the battles for. In a way not too dissimilar from Shovel Knight, this feels like it was designed to run on old computers. The game runs at a default 640×480 resolution, and the decision to stick to an old-school aesthetic is reflected as an artistic choice rather than the developer being limited by their skill. When considering the inspiration, Quest for Infamy is quite pleasing aesthetically, with some beautiful, varied environments, and mostly fantastic character designs. The women could have used a bit more covering up, and their sparse clothing feels like a piece of satire that missed the mark. Sound effects in the game could have used some better mixing, as some play a bit too loud or too quiet compared to the rest of the audio. As soundtracks go, Quest for Infamy‘s is not particularly memorable, but the music sets the tone for each scene. Creepy graveyards have appropriately somber chords, while the town has an upbeat song playing in the background.
The supporting characters, even bit players like the barmaid Kit, are a lot of fun to talk to. The dialogue is well written, and I let out some genuine laughter at some of the jokes in the game. Every character is voiced, as well, and, thankfully, those voices can be turned off because they are some of the worst I have heard in years. Less is definitely more, in this case, and if I could ask one thing of the developers, it would be to just stick with text for their next outing. The writing stands very well on its own, thank you.
If I had any complaints about the writing, it is that for a game called Quest for Infamy, I never felt like I was being much of a knave. More, I felt like I was doing something semi-heroic while looking for the big score and talking to people like a smart ass along the way. In fact, it, at times, feels like Roehm does not have a reason for most of the things he is doing in the roughly ten hours of the story. Or, at least, not until the final act when he finds motivation to go after the game’s villain, but then it’s all over less than half an hour later.
While I wish I had the opportunity to be more villainous, I really enjoyed my time with Quest for Infamy. For better or worse, this is an old-school adventure game through and through. If you grew up with Quest for Glory and other Sierra adventure games, and couldn’t control your excitement when they were re-released, you owe it to yourself to pick up Quest for Infamy. Just, please, turn the voice acting off!
Review copy provided by publisher.
Quest for Infamy is available on Amazon:
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