Nope. Sorry, lads. I hate to disappoint you. But I've had it with this game. I gave it well over the six hour minimum, and I stand by my summary in the last posting: huge, empty, and boring.
Since last night, I did make it to the capital city of Marheim, where I met the singularly unhelpful king:
Between the king and some other people in town, I picked up a few clues. The king wants his children back. I need to seek two women--one good, one evil. I suspect the "evil" one is the witch who lives in the "dim forest of Grimwood," whose gaze is death and only the light of the sun can destroy her. Finally, I must seek my enemy on the Astral Plane.
There were some apples in a couple of the houses that the game kindly allowed me to save for later bouts of hunger.
I kept following the main road until it came to an end somewhere on the east coast. It was during this process that I decided the game and I weren't going to last together. It took about 20 minutes to walk from the city to the end of the line. On the map, this about 1/5 the total width of the continent. I encountered nothing of consequence along the way. There were two castles that were completely empty.
When I reached the peninsula at the end of the road, I did find a watchtower containing a seashell that, when blown on the water's edge, summoned a turtle. He kindly allowed me to ride on his back, with much improved speed.
This isn't enough to save the game. I'm bored to tears with it. The thought of making my way to all these far corners of the map, even if I find faster transportation, fills me with dread. Nope, it's over. And the walkthrough makes me feel I've made the right decision.
Yesterday, I promised a bit of video, so here it is. I purposefully die so you can see what happens.
From the walkthroughs, apparently finishing the game involves rescuing the princess, finding a series of statues to enter the invisible city of Azal, entering the Astral Plane, fighting a navigation puzzle, and killing the necromancer with a wand. You then get to marry the princess and live happily ever after. If you're really interested in seeing the end, a German guy named Elanarae has a whole series of "let's play" videos on the game (albeit for the Amiga version). Here's the last one--only a minute.
It appears you get a magical swan at some point which cuts down on travel time, but honestly, I watched the last three of his videos and most of it was simply flying, flying, flying the swan from one place to another while he talked about what game he was going to play next.
I feel like I played long enough for a GIMLET, especially since I viewed much of the rest, so here it is:
1. Game World. There are some nice physical features--forests, mountains, farms, and such--but there's not much in it. The back story is the standard necromancer-taking-over-the-world fare. The "three brothers" motif sounded interesting, but the game doesn't really do anything with it. Score: 4.
2. Character Creation & Development. Not much to speak of. Your "bravery" stat goes up as you kill creatures and your vitality stat goes up with it. Luck is influenced by talking to certain people. All the walkthroughs agree with me that your character becomes invincible way too fast. Score: 2.
3. NPC Interaction. Consists of talking to static NPCs and getting a single hint. And there aren't many NPCs. Score: 2.
4. Encounters & Foes. Repetitive and boring. You meet the same foes all over the land, most of which fall quickly to your sword. They do nothing interesting--just charge you en masse. They do re-spawn, so you can kill as many as you want. Score: 2.
5. Magic & Combat. Also repetitive and boring. There are no spells--magic is all through physical items. Combat consists of choosing a weapon--and there's not much choice--and hitting a single "attack" button. It's really hard to survive at first and, very quickly, far too easy. Score: 1.
6. Equipment. The various magic items, and how you have to discover their uses, are somewhat interesting. There are only a handful of weapons, though, and no armor. Score: 3.
7. Economy. You get gold in the game, but all you can use it for is to buy food and give it to beggars (unless I missed something). Score: 2.
8. Quests. One main quest with multiple parts. No side quests, no different outcomes. Score: 3.
9. Graphics, Sound, Inputs. The graphics are actually quite good and probably the best part of the game. Even in the DOS version, they're as attractive as an isometric game up to this point. The music is intolerable--thankfully, there is a "music off" command--but the sounds, while rare, are occasionally interesting. Controls are both mouse and keyboard and reasonably intuitive. Score: 6.
10. Gameplay. The game is fairly non-linear. I'll give it that. But the huge game world offers nothing valuable. It should have been contracted to 1/4 of its size. It's far too easy and offers no replayability. Score: 2.
Final score: 27. Definitely one of the lower-ranked games on my blog. My apologies to those of you who disagree, but I just don't understand what you see in the game. The game manual brags that it features 17,000 screens. The developers should have put something in them.
Next up: First Expedition, which some of you have said doesn't belong on the CRPG list. Let's find out.