We are in the very retro year 1988. Gorbachev takes over as Head of State in the Soviet Union, Miami Vice begins its 5th and final season, and Larissa wins the Greek football championship. In the midst of all these world-changing events, a young programmer named Corey Cole is hired by the already established company Sierra On-Line and begins working on the SCI engine, upon which the company has based the creation of all of its Adventure titles. Both he and his wife, Lori Ann Cole, were passionate RPG players, whether in computer or table-top form, but Lori Ann was strangely indifferent to Adventure games (a rather humorous fact, given that her husband was now an employee of a company that primarily created Adventure titles).
So Lori Ann made a big decision: to use the experience she had gained from her RPG endeavours (she had created a completely original rules system that she used in her sessions, and she also published the "Spell Book", a fantasy RPG newsletter) and combine it with Sierra's expertise in Adventures to design a game that would be a unique blend of Adventure and RPG. So she set to work in collaboration with Corey (whose name was curiously left out of the game's credits) and the Sierra team, and in the salutary year of 1989 the fruit of their labors was finally released, called "Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero". Shortly after the game's release, however, copyright issues arose with the company that owned the masculine and shaggy board game "HERO QUEST", so it was decided to change the name to "QUEST FOR GLORY".
“HERO WANTED IN SPIELBURG VALLEY”
In Quest for Glory we play as a young aspiring adventurer who has just graduated from the Famous Adventurer's Correspondence School (FACS for short). Wandering around his town's Adventurer's Guild, he spots a notice informing all concerned that the Spielburg Valley was looking for a "Hero". Particularly appealing was the last sentence of the notice."No experience necessary". Thus, our hero begins his march to glory by leaving his hometown for the Spielburg Valley.
But when he arrives in the valley, he sees that things are even bleaker than he expected. The local ruler, Baron Stefan Von Spielburg, had shut himself away in his castle, unconcerned with the mundane after the disappearance of his two children, leaving the valley at the mercy of the Brigands, a group of bandits who, under the guidance of a charismatic and mysterious leader, had seized the place. Also due to the Baron and his soldiers' indifference to the safety of the valley, monsters of many kinds had made their appearance in the local forests, making travel in the valley extremely dangerous. As if all this wasn't enough, shortly after our hero's arrival in Spielburg, a sudden natural disaster blocked with snow the only pass that offered access to the valley. As the expression goes, we have our work cut out for us. The quest for glory has just begun...
“YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN IN A VERY DANGEROUS PLACΕ”
At the beginning of the game the player is asked to choose the character class they want between Fighter, Magic User and Thief (the Coles' original plans were for each class to correspond to a different race - Gnome Thief, Elf Magic User, Centaur Archer and Human...a little bit of everything, but due to the limited resources of Sierra's animation department they settled on a system of three Human classes). The game's unique innovation, perhaps unsurpassed to this day, is that each class largely provides completely unique gameplay possibilities. As a Fighter we equip sword-shield-armor and use brute force to tackle all problems head-on, as a Magic User we socialize with the other wizards of the valley, learn spells from them and rely mostly on our magic skill, and as a Thief (perhaps the most... interesting class) we rely on more insidious methods: stealthy movement, consorting with the "shady" regulars of the Thieves Guild (even thieves have to be unionized), lock picking and burglary (among the game's TOP instances where those in which the Thief is called upon to break into and loot a house).
All of the above is combined with the classic Point System of Sierra's Adventures, with each class earning points through unique ways that corresponded to their unique gameplay (the Fighter must chase and kill monsters, the Thief must break into the homes of innocent civilians and "process" the loot at the Thieves Guild, and the Magic User must learn all the spells the local mages have to offer and use them for work and also... fun. So one has to play all 3 classes in order to be able to say that he has fully experienced everything the game has to offer.
Another innovation of the game is its Skill System, which was based on the pen-and-paper rule system that Lori Cole had created for her sessions. According to this, in order to raise our skills we had to practice them directly, e.g. climbing trees to raise the Climbing skill, throwing rocks and Daggers for Throwing, Dodge during battles to raise Dodge, etc. Keep in mind that the first game in the Elder Scrolls series, which supposedly established this kind of skill advancement, came out a full 5 years after Quest for Glory! Other than that, all classes have mostly a common system of skills, with a few exceptions that correspond to the specific gameplay of each class (Magic User has Magic skill, Thief has Stealth and Lockpick, Fighter has Dodge skill - but the great thing is that there is the possibility for indirect "multi-class", as during character creation we can give skill points to all skills regardless of our class, so it is theoretically possible to make a... Fighter Mage Thief character!)
But the above wouldn't be so glorified today if they weren't tied to the incredible world that the Coles designed for the game, borrowing elements from all the world's mythologies and combining them with typical fantasy clichés (Barons and princes, wizards, goblins, trolls, etc.), with creatures of their own pure invention and with anachronistic modern touches (mostly serving humorous purposes). Obviously, Sierra's well-known talent as we got to know it in their Adventures contributed to the greatness of the world: brilliant humor in both the dialogue and the descriptive text of the "narrator", hilarious Death screens for all tastes, and of course... Easter Eggs.
“HERO OF THE REALM”
Quest for Glory, with its unprecedented freedom of movement, unique class gameplay, fairy-tale setting, the depth of its world and of course the familiar humour of Sierra's signature titles, remains to this day an unsurpassed example of what a small group of people can create when given the creative freedom to unleash their talent and passion. Its success led Sierra to create a VGA remake (upgrading the visual display from 16 to 256 colors, and replacing the antiquated text input command system with the typical mouse interface that Sierra had begun to implement on all of their Adventure games) and to release a sequel 1 year later...but that is a tale for another time.
For this article I played the original EGA version of the game, with a 16 color palette and using text commands to manipulate the hero. The remake is clearly more convenient and modernized while keeping the feel of the original game intact, but the stripes of the Order of the Retrospector insisted that the playthrough of the series begin with the original version.