Gaming habits of the geeky and socially inept were transformed in the 1970’s with the advent of the role playing game progenitor, Dungeons & Dragons. Now, instead of merely reading about the fantasy world adventures of J.R.R Tolkien’s middle-earth denizens (made popular with The Lord of the Rings series of books), fans of the genre could now actually participate in the creation and evolution of their own Tolkien-like hero. With a group of friends, a handful of dice, and a little bit of imagination, players could literally travel the same paths taken by such Tolkien icons as Frodo Baggins, Gandalf the Wizard, and Stryder the Ranger: battling dragons, demons, and orcs in the pursuit of heroism and adventure.
Some 20 years later, RPG’s still remain a popular form of escapism for fans of Fantasy and the like, with even a more broad appeal than before. This, in part, is due to the advent of RPG title development for PC’s and gaming consoles. Instead of having to dig up 3 or 4 friends in order to start a traditional game of D&D, one has to just pop in a disk on their home system and start up their very own RPG session, making it that easy to jump into the fantasy gaming world in an instant.
Now, the only real difficulty for gamers is to wade through the knee deep piles of RPG titles that have over saturated the market in order to find the one that can capture the essence of true D&D type role playing (as well as the attention of the player). The latest release Gorasul: The legacy of the Dragon from the European developers at Silver Style was able to do just that, giving players a mixture of the traditional tried-and-true RPG gameplay that gamers have come to expect from computer games; as well as adding several unique gameplay elements that allow this particular title to stand out and shine among the competition.
From the initial load up and play of Gorasul: The Legacy of the Dragon, true fans of the genre will be engrossed with the rich storyline and gripping plot that the developers have weaved into this title. The focus of the game is on Roszondas, a child that has been raised by a kindly dragon. Given the magic of his adoptive father in order to survive a life threatening ailment, he grows up bearing the weight and abilities of having an almost uncontrollable power within himself, but eventually learns to tame the dragon fire that burns within his soul as he reaches adulthood. Roszondas will face another trial, however, as he finds his world in utter peril with the attack of the evil forces of the Demon World.
Valiantly, our hero leads the forces of good in battle against the forces of evil, using his magic and other special abilities in order to save his world of Gorasul. Eventually, our hero is slain in a terrible battle against the demons…the great war is not over, however, with the forces of good still continuing to battle without their leader. 10 years now have passed, and the gods have found another use for the slain Roszondas. They revive him and give him a special weapon in order to continue the battle against evil. The world has changed since his passing, forcing Roszondas to find a group of special allies in order for him to finally overcome the demon horde that still rampages through the world of Gorasul. If he doesn’t succeed, then the world will plunge into darkness forever.
As an overall RPG title, Gorasul: The Legacy of the Dragon remains consistent with the boundaries of the game genre, keeping the standards of RPG at its core of gameplay. Character setup is mostly a routine process, utilizing the same tried and true parameters those familiar with this style of gaming have grown accustomed to. The main difference between Gorasul and other similar RPG titles, however, is that your initial game set up revolves around only one character: the main protagonist, Roszondas (though other characters are available to players as the game progresses).
Six character classes are available during the setup process: the judge of swords, banisher, scout, priest, magician, and warrior. Each class has its own set of pre-rolled attributes, with their own strengths and weaknesses in the various character abilities (ie, Warriors can use more of a variety of weapons, while Magicians can learn and use more from the book of spells available). After a class has be chosen, players can then distribute any leftover points into whatever attribute they see fit to raise, whether it be dexterity (used for attacks/defense and movement), charisma (used for interaction between the character and others found in the game), intelligence (used for spell casting), or even constitution (the determinate for hit points/life).
As the storyline explained, the main character, Roszondas ,was raised by a kindly dragon, and with that in mind there are extra abilities that can be distributed during the initial setup. A unique feature of Gorasul ‘s style of RPG, these Dragon Skills can help out the main character during crucial points in the game, mostly during losing combat scenarios. Three of the four skills (Dragon Fear, Breath, and Strength) are activated automatically when Roszondas’ hit point level falls below 10 percent. Dragon Eyes can be used at any time by the main character, giving a bird’s eye map view of the players’ current location.
Another interesting pre-game aspect to Gorasul comes in the form of weapon character generation. After every other character set up has been completed, players are given the chance to actually create their own specific weapon character, tailored to suit their character’s specific class needs. For example, the sword can be used by the Judge of Swords and Warrior classes, the staff and wand by the magician and banisher classes, and the bow by the Scout class. Each weapon has its own set up unique abilities and attributes that can be set up and improved upon during the game as experience points are gained. These special weapons also have their own unique personalities that can help (or sometimes hinder) your character progress during their in-game adventures.
After the initial class set up is complete, players can choose from one of three levels of difficulty to play in, as well as three different modes of gameplay. The ‘Fight Intensive’ version allows for more combat during the game and less ‘questing’ (the search for clues and answers to complete the overall game), a ‘Quest Intensive’ version dictates more puzzle solving than combat scenarios, and a ‘Fight/Quest’ version which actually gives equal amount of both aspects to the game.
The gameplay from that point falls into the realm of standard RPG styling. Similar to Diabo and Baldurs’s Gate, players use the mouse to point-and-click their characters around the vast maps that can be found within Gorasul, searching the lands for adventure, combat, and clues that will allow you to eventually (with some luck) defeat the evil that is the Demon Horde. By succeeding in battle with the myriad of creatures and inhabitants of Gorasul, and by solving various tasks and missions, players can build up Experience Points in order to gain levels. With each level gained, players can then build upon their characters stats, tailoring their abilities to suit their specific need and role within the game. A plethora of weapons, armor, magical items, various equipment, and other playable character can be obtained during the gameplay, allowing for diversity in achieving your goals.
The developers at Silver Style did a fantastic job with the overall production values of Gorasul. The graphics design is sharp, giving quite a bit of detail to the surrounding areas of the map as well as the characters/NPC (non-playing characters) themselves. Some of the creature designs found within the game are the most inventive to be seen in an RPG (the demon lords, for example), as are the weapon and equipment modeling. The in-game animation and cut-scenes were of high caliber as well, helping keep the storyline from dragging on during slower points of the games action.
Though it has many positive aspects about it, Gorasul still is far from a perfect game. For instance, the high detail that can be found within the game comes at a price: the title is not only spread across 4 CD-ROMs, but also takes up almost 3 gigs of hard drive space on a full install. Also, the requirements to play the behemoth files on your computer are rather stiff, calling for a Pentium III 350mhz system with at least 64 MB of RAM and 600MB of free hard drive space just to start the game up. Gorasul also has a few technical glitches with its overall control during gameplay, making it very difficult fully direct characters actions during combat. That, with the more than occasional crash during large scale combat scenarios made the experience very frustrating at times. But thanks to the unlimited save game function, at least it was not a complete loss every time.
Another very annoying problem with the game was the lack of an updated instruction manual. Though most of the games background and functions were outlines in the boxed manuals, class descriptions that were available were not. Three of the six available character classes were mislabeled and did not give an accurate portrait of what the characters skills and abilities were in-game. Also, magic weapons (such as staffs and wands) were not outlined at all, leaving players with guessing how these items worked while in a combat scenario.
Even with the problems found in the game, Gorasul: The
Legacy of the Dragon turned out to be a very pleasurable gaming experience. The
developers not only captured the essence of a true fantasy RPG, but also added
enough bells and whistles to make it a truly unique gaming experience. A solid
graphics engine, quality story writing, and one of the largest explorable maps
seen in an RPG title only adds to the positive aspects of the game. True fans of
Fantasy RPG titles will not be disappointed.