Die Feuerfaust is the third installment in the Alaric Blackmoon-series by Larry Horsfield. Having played and tested the previous two, I knew pretty much what I was in for, and looking forward to it.
I was not disappointed. Unapologetic (have I used this word in an Alaric-review before? I just might have...) oldschool adventuring, big and varied settings, some use of magic, some killing of foes, and at least one very elaborate, well thought out puzzle (Have you ever tried any horseriding? Wait til you try riding a wild Zampf).
Also: some lack in depth of implementation and interactivity in the large and sprawling settings, as is to be expected in the oldschool tradition.
A classic storyline drives the game forward: Whereas Alaric was a run-down mercenary going on a quest that lead him to glory in Axe of Kolt, in this game Alaric is stranded after a shipwreck and has lost all his belongings. He must work his way through various obstacles and tasks toward his final goal, recovering the famed Fist of Fire.
Nothing new, but tried and trusted adventure fare.
Many NPCs, most still smelling of the cardboard they were cut out of, some more fleshed out. All do what they're supposed to do in a text-adventure such as this: drive the action forward with clues and gifts.
Many, many puzzles, most quite straightforward and not too big. And as mentioned, a great Zampftaming sequence to sink your Hero-teeth into.
All in all, the best of the three I have played so far. The evolution begun in Spectre of Castle Coris continues: tighter gameplay, clearer subgoals so less wandering about, more engaging story.
Not must, but certainly should-play.
A new version of the game will be appearing soon.
The second Alaric Blackmoon game. It's a large oldschool quest to save a village from a spectre that's killing and abducting people.
Right from the start it got my attention because of the mystery aspect. Who or what is this Spectre? Finding this out is essential to vanquishing it in the end.
I like my fantasy oldschool, straightforward and unapologetic. Here the mystery adds to the fun. Good puzzles, a great sense of space once you enter the castle grounds. Linear, but I don't mind that in this sort of game. Some great, vividly written scenes.
The author made a design choice that may be offputting to some: until you enter the castle, you must send the ghost away with a prayer every 20 turns or so. To me, this added to the presence of the Spectre, to others, this will get dull.
This game's good for a week, maybe two of ghosthunting and castlesearching fun. Well worth playing.
This is cliché fantasy galore and it's great!
Step one: set expectations to sorcerers, dwarves, a magic axe and all that.
Step two: don your Hero-attire and rush in!
Step three: be stopped in your tracks by this or that puzzle that is cleverer than you thought, wander through a forest searching for poultry, witness a demonic sacrifice...
It's good fun and the Hero of the day should count his blessings that you're the one guiding him because there's a few hard and complex puzzles. (Heroes aren't all that bright in the noggin, you know).
It's also fantastically long. This is one to sink your teeth into. Clear an hour a day in your schedule for a month to play this. You might get to the end by then.
AoK does show its age: some non-interactive forest-locations all alike, lots of death, some learn by trial-and-death, timed sequences. I didn't mind any of that because: fun!
In the end, it's a great straightforward fantasy romp that had me tied to the screen for some weeks.
"The Lost Labyrinth of Lazaitch" is a type of game I miss in newer IF. It's an oldschool fantasy text adventure. Period.
No deep metaphors for our pressing modern times, no personal symbolism about overcoming your deepest fear, no soul-searching tale about spiritual enlightenment.
You are Alaric, a Hero. Somewhere to the East is a Magic Book of great importance. Obstacles and enemies are between you and said book. Overcome them and get the Book. Period.
Aaah, good times!
Be sure to bring your brain, because we all know Heroes need all the help they can get in that department, especially with puzzles like in LLL. Not too hard, but enough to get you scratching your head.
This way, they are both funny and engaging, not frustrating. Just remember the 3 IF commandments: Read, Explore, Examine.
Also bring your imagination, because on your way you will see beautiful and horrifying sights. May you be the first to live and tell the world about the troll-bowl or the Red Tower.
Full disclosure: I playtested this game.