Quest for Infamy
Hands-On Preview
Stephen Meyerink Stephen Meyerink


Phoenix Online Studios

Infamous Quests

Graphic Adventure


US 06/30/2014

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The backgrounds have that unmistakeable 90s-era Sierra quality.
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All infamous rogue-types hang out in dark forests, right?
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The interface is pleasantly old school.
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Well we ran into a bear. And trust me, that was way more of a buzz-kill.
"Quest for Infamy appeals to all of my childhood love of Sierra-style adventuring."

A few years back, developer Infamous Adventures produced excellent remakes of classic Sierra adventure games King's Quest III: To Heir is Human and Space Quest II. Utilizing a tool called the Adventure Game Studio, these remakes took the text parser interface-based original titles and brought them more in line with the kind of point-and-click adventure games Sierra later became known for (think King's Quest V and VI or the early Gabriel Knight titles). While I was first introduced to the team's work through these free titles (available here), the newly rebranded Infamous Quests is back with a commercial, successfully Kickstarted, original adventure game/RPG called Quest for Infamy.

Quest for Infamy takes its cues from another heyday Sierra series, Quest for Glory. For the uninitiated, these games combined the point-and-click adventure gameplay of Gabriel Knight and King's Quest with stat-driven RPG combat. Unlike Quest for Glory, though, Quest for Infamy is all about playing the bad guy; in this case a roguish-but-handsome bearded beau called Roehm. Additionally, unlike many modern adventure games that have streamlined the point-and-click process into a single interactive hotspot per object, Quest for Infamy makes use of an interface old hats might recall, in which you have different contextual options available to you based on mouse cursors for "walk," "talk," "interact," and "look at."

I've spent a few hours with the game, and thus far, the experience has filled me with giddy nostalgia; the developers claim to have been aiming to create a "new" classic, and by all accounts they seem to be on the right path. The artwork is detailed and painterly; not HD or even close to it, but possessed of a kind of charm that younger players or those without fond memories of the classics might (fairly) find dated. The music feels a bit more modern, with recorded pieces rather than old-school, mileage-may-vary-MIDI. Voicework ranges from good to great (the wizard Prospero is especially entrancing), and most importantly, the writing is flat-out excellent. The same early 90's playful wit is on display here, with detailed descriptions of areas, a snarky but informative narrator, and some really great humor. Unlike another recent "classic" adventure game, Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine, what I've heard and read in Quest for Infamy seems natural and not at all forced.

The prologue chapter of the game introduces the player to the ins and outs of clicking, combat and classes: a strong-armed warrior type, a rogue, and a sorceror. While the point-and-click component of things works as you'd expect, the combat is a bit more arcane. After encountering a foe and being whisked away to a battle screen, players are presented with three types of sword attacks, a block button, and their spate of skills and consumables. The system is sort of turn-based; a Final Fantasy-style active time bar fills up and you take turns trading blows with your foe until one of you bites the dust. While I found the combat enjoyable, novice players might be puzzled by the system for a while, as there are no explanations or tutorials to be had within the game itself, and it can be difficult to tell which of your attacks is most effective against a given foe. A friendly NPC in the local inn can impart some of this wisdom to you, but cataloging that info falls to the player: this is old-school stuff.

The menus track a number of statistics related to your combat efficacy, but there are other RPG trappings here as well. If you're skilled enough, you can climb walls, fences, and trees, steal items from vendors, and accomplish a number of other feats. Again, this is approached in an old-school fashion: for example, the player needs to click over and over again on the town gate, failing each time to climb it but slowly building up the Climbing stat. Once I acclimated to this internal logic, things started to make sense, but the first hour or so found me fumbling around, wondering to what to do next, as my first attempt to climb that same gate was thwarted, and it took two or three tries before I was informed that my climbing stat had grown.

Quest for Infamy appeals to all of my childhood love of Sierra-style adventuring. The visuals, writing, voice acting, and gameplay all take me back to a more innocent age of gaming. While I will admit that some gamers with more modern tastes or those who never had a taste for this kind of game at all might be turned off by it, I personally enjoyed every bit of dialogue, artwork, and head-scratching puzzle solving that came my way. My time with the beta version was bug-free and exhibited a great deal of polish, so while it's possible that perhaps the combat, puzzle design, or writing could falter in the final release, this is a game that seems like it will deliver on its vision and promise. If you're into the old days of adventuring, definitely keep an eye on this one when it launches on June 30.

Oh, and the writers made an Arrested Development reference in one of the game-over screen pop-ups. So there's that.

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