Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny
The orcs are playing up again. You know how it is: normally they spend all their time having inter-tribal scraps, but the moment you turn your back some jumped-up warlord character comes along, unites all the tribes under his banner and decides to go on a serious rampage into human lands.
Luckily though, this is fantasy role-playing land, and so it just happens that theres a way to stop the bastards cold. Theres this sword, you see, that used to belong to some big warrior-king geezer, and the Orcs are scared stiff of the thing. Unfortunately no-one knows where it is.
But, all is not lost. Theres a map that shows where the sword lies. Okay, so its in nine pieces, and yeah, you guessed, no-one knows where they are either. Still, if everything in life was simple then... er... life would be simple. (Sigh. Ed.)
But life isnt simple
In Blade Of Destiny your task is to recover the map fragments, find the sword and then wave it at the Ore warlord in a suitably threatening manner. To achieve this you control a group of six characters and range across the region of Thorwal, the Viking-based area of Arkania where Blade of Destiny is set. You start off in the town of Thorwal. After wandering around for a bit you hear that the Hetman (King) is looking for some help. One conversation later and youre off, armed with the name and location of someone who might know something about the sword or the map. You hope. The majority of the game is taken up with the hunt for the map fragments. Its something of a medieval detective story, with you tracking down the descendants of the last expedition of Hetman Hyggelik, the original owner of the sword, and persuading them to help you. In-between this there are various tasks and encounters, some unrelated to the main story and others closely linked. Certain people wont help you unless you do something for them in return, and others are hard to find or require talking to in just the right way lest they slam their doors in your face. Once all the various fragments of the map are found you trek into the wilderness of the Ork Steppes to find the sword, and then its time for the grand finale with El Oreo Bosso.
In fact, its quite complex
Blade of Destiny is undeniably a huge and involving game. There are 52 towns and villages across Thorwal to explore, well over a hundred events and encounters and numerous plot twists. There are even diseases, herbs and the ability to make various potions and poisons. All in all, theres a lot to do and see. And this depth is the games greatest strength. It really is quite absorbing, and will certainly take even the most skilful of players a long time to finish. Theres a hell of a lot to do, and the game is fairly nonlinear: you find yourself skipping backward and forward all over the place, and locations or people previously unavailable will become accessible as you discover more pieces of information.
But for all that, Blade of Destiny has its problems. The main one is that, well, its not that much fun. Theres nothing about it that immediately grabs you and makes you want to play it more and more. Apart from its size and complexity theres nothing that makes it really stand out. The graphics are passable rather than excellent, and the sound is best ignored - pitiful medieval tunes and weak effects, the latter requiring far more disk access than seems reasonable, and slowing the game down noticeably. The controls work, but not amazingly well - theyre sort ofaverage. And the gameplay is really nothing new.
Destined for greatness?
So what youve got with Blade Of Destiny is a large, complex, absorbing game with loads to do, but nothing that really makes it shine. The Novice and Advanced modes are a nice idea, obviously designed to make the game appeal to your average Joe gamer as well as the hardened rpg saddies like me. Unfortunately its in Novice mode that the games lack of that vital je ne sais quoi shows the most. In Advanced mode the games sheer detail and complexity saves it, but when you take that away youre left with a relatively mediocre game.
Nonetheless, if you are a fan of rpgs, and fancy one thatll take a lot of play before its exhausted, then Id certainly recommend Blade of Destiny. It may not be groundbreaking, but its absorbing to play and large in scope.
Making life complicated
One of Blade of Desintfs unique features is the choice of game complexity. At the start of each game you can choose between the Novice or Advanced games. This choice doesnt affect the difficulty of the game, but controls the level of detail you have to cope with. Novice mode handles all the values for skills and magic, including any increases due to experience, and then highlights the best character for any task your party is required to perform. This lets beginners (or those with little or no interest in loads of statistics) play the game simply and easily. In Advanced mode you have access to the full statistics for your characters, control any increases, and decide which character is best suited to a given task, all of which makes the game far more complex.
The choice of Novice or Advanced is given to you each time you load the game, so its perfectly possible to start playing in Novice and then change to Advanced, and then change back to Novice if it all gets too much for you.
Download Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode