Moving on from all the
metaphysical megalomania, I think it's high time to roll up a new Jaunt. Uh, so to speak. This time we look westward for our next game: Westwood Studios, to be exact (segues!). While they'll always be better remembered for their seminal genre-defining work with the D&D-based Eye of the Beholder games (and, well Command & Conquer. Thanks ArbitraryWater), they also created a second series of first-person dungeon crawlers set in a world of their own devising: Lands of Lore. Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos is the first of the LoL trilogy and still retains Eye of the Beholder's older four-directional system and colorful 2D artwork. Later games would be unfortunate FMV-ridden exemplars of mediocrity, but the original is timeless. At least in my opinion. Like Master of Magic, Lands of Lore is available from GOG.com, though I would advise waiting until it comes up in the sales (if it ever does) and electing it for the daily discount, because it is some classic-ass dungeon crawling. Unless it comes up against Master of Magic. Man, I don't envy anyone who has to make that decision. Part 1: Long Live King Patrick Stewart Welcome to Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos! Wouldn't a chaotic throne be painful to sit on? This game will answer that question for you, probably! As well as your usual menu items, you can also watch the optional introduction cutscene (and it's neat that you can skip it, since it's a whole lot of nothing) as well as finding out more about the lore of the lands of Lands of Lore. However, it's not the law of the land that you must learn of the lore of the lands of Lands of Lore here, as you can learn most of it as you play. King Richard (Patrick Stewart) will ask which of his four loyal minions will do his bidding, with the rest presumably slinking off to whatever peasant's hovel they crawled out of. Probably goes without saying that you select one of the four as your protagonist. Ak'shel is a Dracoid, a sort of magic dragon guy, only he looks more like he's melting. Mages are worth their weight in gold in this game, since many of the spells have utilitarian uses as well as the conventional healing and fireballs. Which leaves preening d-bag Michael here SOL. Even if you're the type to pick fighters, any of the characters can swing a sword around with some competency. This game is very much on the inhaler and pocket protector side of the eternal jocks vs. nerds schism. I suspect kitty man is intended as the speed run challenge for players who have mastered this game, since he sucks at everything besides running into walls really fast. If you're a new player, it's probably safe to stick with Conrad. Like the lantern jaw might suggest, he's the Bill Pullman of this game: Adequate in any role but dull. This will not be our Independence Day however. Ak'shel (or your hero of choice) will start the game answering a summons from the King. Because it's a little more grave than a simple chit-chat, you aren't allowed to leave until you've met the King. Unless you want to try fighting this guy. With your dagger. Sounds like a good idea, right? Instead of being dumb, let's explore the castle a little. Here's the skittish herbalist, from whom you can purchase healing items. Vendors in this game have an interesting set-up: Instead of a separate shop screen, you simply point at something in the room and he'll give you a price for it, if it's on sale. You start with one of each healing item, though, so we might as well save our limited cash for now. Unfortunate Slavic stereotype Victor here is the castle blacksmith. You can buy any of the weapons hanging on the right if you are wanting to be stabbing people in the bitch, but the sword he's polishing is not for sale. The only thing I can afford right now is a stick, so let's call a rain check on this shopping expedition for the time being. Lands of Lore is filled with dungeon dressing that your character will have something stupid to say about. Like this crest of arms Ak'shel just stupidly injured himself on like a stupid stupidface. It's a testament to this game's attention to detail and there's quite a few daft jokes to find. Meanwhile, in the King's throne room, a whole bunch of plot is happening. The King, his chancellor and what is not a flattering portrayal of head magician Dawn are discussing the evil witch Scotia and her attempts to assassinate the King. They eventually acknowledge your presence and tell you to find a ruby in some dude's mansion. It's a fetch quest but, hey, we're just starting out. We also get a key to the King's library, which has the Magic Map - a vital tool for exploration. There's also a few books that allow you to hear Patrick Stewart rambling on about kobolds and emerald swords. Westwood Studios got their money's worth all right. But then we all know how well they treat their movie star talent from the C&C games. Assy McGee gives you a writ before you leave so you can get on the boat to the south without paying for it, after insulting you a bit. He also tells us to find a man named "Timothy" who will assist us. He sounds like a rough customer! And then finally we're outside! This forest is more of a hub than anything else, with various separate areas to visit. Right now, we ought to be heading south to our destination, but I'm going to explore a while. Stuff! Money is automatically added to the pile on the right, while the vomit-looking thing is actually a one-use attack item called a "swarm". They're worth a bit of cash, so sweep up any you find. A fight with a bandit and a wild boar took a little out of my mage here. He's really better suited for standing on the back row and flinging spells at people. Though we're unable to heal with magic at the moment, it's easy enough to survive if you're careful and allow your health to regenerate. Right now, I don't fancy my chances against these two in combat and Ak'shel isn't the stealthy type, so we'll make a mental note of this cave and come back a little later. Scotia the Witch is the game's chief antagonist and a powerful shape-shifting sorceress eager to do away with the honorable King Richard. This isn't her though, this is just some anonymous attractive lady talking a walk in a dangerous forest who just asked me to sneak her into the castle. Jeez, get a little closer why don't you? Her amazing plan foiled by my reticence, Scotia turns into a bird and flies off. She also says I'm a timid fool and that I shall regret this slight. I know I'm intimidated. Bitches be birds, y'all! After a sweep of the forest, I have just enough cash to upgrade my weapon to the best sword Victor has to offer. It's a serious upgrade and I'm going to be depending on it for most of my fighting whenever my magic runs out. Which is often. Like in that aforementioned bandit cave. This is where you find a lantern, which is useful for lighting up dark areas. So like every other lantern ever, then. And here we see the game's first example of this genre's notorious pressure plate puzzle. The trick is to pick up the rock off the plate that's already depressed and place it on the other. They get tougher. After a few more puzzles and some sneaky hidden buttons (which are highlighted on your magic map, so not really all that sneaky) we find some treasure. In here is the vital Bezel Cup, some gold, some lockpicks and an extra healing salve. Not a bad haul. Finally, it's off to the south. The ornery marina mistress won't let us go without a writ from the King. This is the first of many point-and-click adventure puzzles you're expected to solve. This one isn't exactly a melonscratcher but as with the presure plates, they'll get tougher.
Another episode of A Brief Jaunt Through, another interminable tutorial area that I decided to present in its entirety. Stick around for Part 2, when things actually happen! Also Timothy!