"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
SOFTWARE REVIEW: LEGEND OF FAERGHAIL BY RAINBOW ARTS
by Richard Lee
This bit was originally part of Tom Zunder's "Interleavings 3",
but it was put here because the structure of Interleavings would
not be mutilated as a result, and because, frankly, it's a
"Legend of Faerghail" is a Computer Role Playing Game of a
similar type to "Bard's Tale" (Electronic Arts), but much more
advanced in game play and presentation. It is difficult not to
compare them. Lots of other people have reviewed it in various
publications, including many who must be more into role playing
games than me. I have had the game for about 7 months.
There is a 95 small paged, ring-bound manual which includes the
obligatory novella. It has reasonably good instructions on
playing the game, the magic system and different character
possibilities. Screen resolution is handled quite well. As may be
expected from a game originating in Germany, monochrome is
supported, although graphics and text are much slower to draw,
and suffer slightly from being converted from low res. If it is
run from medium resolution it goes into low res to play, and puts
the ST back into medium on quitting. The game is hard-disk
friendly, and happily runs from any drive. Copy protection
involves limiting access to some dungeons by answering a question
from the manual, and is not too intrusive.
On running the program you are shown an excellent loading
screen, alternating with the programming credits, with
atmospheric music playing gently in the background. Unfortunately
this goes on until a mouse button is pressed where upon screens
and music disappear while the game loads. Finding yourself in the
tavern of Thyn your first job is to put together a party of
adventurers. You may either use the strong characters supplied,
or generate your own. (If you use your own characters the magical
warrior Sigurd will offer to join you just outside the town, if
you leave room for him.)
Character generation involves choosing sex, race (from 6) and
trade (from 12). There are restrictions, for instance Healers
have to be female. You control a party of up to six, chosen, like
Bard's Tale from a larger pool of usable characters. Once you
recruit non-player generated characters you may include them in
any position (Non-player characters cannot be advanced in level
and abilities). As well as the purely basher characters,
characters with special abilities and bashers with some use of
magic, there is are 6 trades specialising in the arcane arts.
These range from the pacific Healers who do not directly harm
opponents with spells, to the rather less pacific Magicians.
Although you start off in a town, you do not have the ability to
wander through it. There is a menu which gives access to all the
specialised locations such as Board of Trades, Healing Temple,
and Emporium, where you will get very fed up with the process of
haggling. On leaving town you find yourself wandering through
grassed and wooded countryside. In daylight hours this is fairly
safe, but is less so after dark when the town gates are firmly
shut. You will probably look for the various dungeons entrances.
Most dungeons may be entered; don't worry about correct order,
you will soon find out which are the most dangerous.
In dungeons groups of monsters are often visible at a distance
(not up to "Dungeon Master" standards, only one amorphous figure
is visible per group). Usually you have a chance to avoid
fighting by talking to them. This earns you less experience
points. To talk it helps if your characters have learned extra
languages. If it does come to the crunch, which it will as you
seek to develop characters, you will find that magic is
unreliable, weapons and armour fragile (you did include a
Blacksmith in the party didn't you?) and that no character,
friend or foe, guarantees to land a blow.
The fight sequences either give you a choice of fairly brief
summary or a blow by blow account, complete with stylized
animation. Fighting is different from the "Bard's Tale" in that
characters can move between the 4 ranks in the middle of a fight,
no-one is immune from hand weapons even at the back, each side
has a bash in turn, starting from one end of the group to the
other, and experience points are given according to deeds wrought
rather than equal division between the winning side.
Character maintenance is fairly easy, there are healing spells,
healing springs and the Temple. Unfortunately characters may be
permanently killed, although revival is often possible.
Characters require food and rest but food is plentiful once they
have gained fighting proficiency. As with any game there is
shortage of cash in the early stages. In the dungeons there are
many objects, magical and non-magical, and many special
locations. Many of these appear to be red-herrings.
There are some minor bugs, but nothing crippling. English rather
than American is used throughout game and manual, but as it was
obviously written by non-native English speakers, it can be a
At times the rather heavy handed humour mars the atmosphere
created by the imaginative scenario, excellent graphics and
realistic sound effects. There are too many Elvish washrooms,
massage parlours and saunas for my taste. I don't object to
vulgarity, but I draw the line at anachronism. "Bard's Tale"
seemed to haunt the imagination with primitive graphics, simple
tunes but less to spoil the illusion.
Fight sequences are more complicated than "Bard's Tale", but are
not necessarily more realistic in all respects. There are many
interesting aspects to the game, including some attempt to allow
non-violent play. I suspect that the balance between violence and
non-violent actions is not yet perfected. Insufficient allowance
in terms of experience points is made to party members who have
other jobs than just killing, for instance, to allow Healers to
develop much experience it is necessary to put them in first
position so that they always act first in fights and let them
physically attack opponents. The "Bard's Tale" system where
everyone in the winning side benefited seemed to work just as
well or better.
"Legend of Faerghail" contains can many of the things which I
hoped to see included in this type of game at some time, and has
good depth of game play. The presentation, in terms of graphics
(not as good as "Dungeon Master" but very much more varied),
sound effects and manual are at least very good, if not
excellent. However, partly because of the heavy handed humour
which spoils the atmosphere, but also because there is room to
perfect game play, I have to rate it as "quite good" only. It may
be illuminating that since getting the "Legend of Faerghail" I
have not yet completed it, but have re-completed "Bard's Tale"
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.