The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate

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a game by Westwood
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Old School Games, The Legend of Kyrandia Series

Something's Rotten In the State of Kyrandia. Which is not to say that everything's going green and starting to smell of old socks but simply that everything's going. Trees, rocks... you name it, someone's nicking it. It's as if someone's trying to run a motorway through the place.

Faced with such a serious threat to their infrastructure, the mystics of Kyrandia decide someone must retrieve the magical anchor stone from the centre of the world. They decide to send Zanthia the youngest and most inexperienced mystic. I think the phrase is positive discrimination.

The main part of Hand of Fate concerns Zanthia's attempts to get to the Anchor stone, a journey hampered by the fact that she's been burgled and most of her magic gear (Heh Zanth! Magic gear!) has been half-inched. This is further evidence of the ineffectiveness of the Kyrandia Neighbourhood Watch. Mind you, once you've encountered a few of the lands inhabitants you'll realise that they are not the stuff of which vigilantes are made. In fact being the foundations for a new by-pass might be the best thing for them to be honest.

Unfortunately, no one has stolen Zanthia's friend (or Familiar as we old Witch Hunters used to call them) Faun, who's life would be far more rewarding if someone turned him into a pair of leather gloves. Throughout the game he's on hand to hurry Zanthia along and perform endearing childlike japes. Laugh? I nearly dropped my Melted Moment.

On the move

Zanthia (Or Zanth as her friends call her) starts off wandering around her home land retrieving what she can of her own possessions and trying get a boat onto her next destina The game in fact divides up into six different locations each of which is virtually a self contained adventure in its own right. The aim always being to get onto the next location.

The independence of each section is emphasised by the, for me slightly irritating, way in which you lose all your possessions in transit between locations. This is always justified in the plot (Zanthia seems to do an awful lot of falling in this game) but slightly reduces the sense of continuity in the game. It's rather like a West End Farce, every now and then it's a case of 'Whoops there go all my things. And here comes the butler with a large marrow.' Well I made the last bit up but you get the idea. At least I hope you do because I'm not going through it all again.

All is not lost since some items will be lying around, it's simply a matter of trying to find them. Again I found this a mite frustrating. Each level (for want of a better word) starts with you losing all your stuff and then charging round trying to find it again. It's all a bit repetitive and it's all a bit repetitive. (Ho ho ho). Miraculously, your glass flasks, vital to the game, seems capable of surviving any fall. That's magic for you.

Game for a laugh

However it seems unfair that my first comment on the game should be a negative one. Hand Of Fate is a very good example of the point and click adventure. Unlike the systems favoured by Sierra and LucasArts, the icon with which you click can't be scrolled through (eye for Look, hand for Action etc.): it's simply an arrow. Clicking on an object enacts the relevant I thought this made things a tad simple but others preferred it to the rival systems. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

The puzzles themselves are a well balanced blend of everything from the blindingly simple to the six cigarettes and four black coffees degree of difficulty. The difficulty level also develops reasonably well (he said, manfully struggling to avoid the phrase 'learning curve') although right at the end of the game the puzzles suddenly get extraordinarily easy and the final problem is hardly a puzzle at all.

Vision on

Where Hand Of Fate is almost flawless is in its graphics which are excellent. The backgrounds in particular are imaginative and beautifully drawn and range from broody swamp lands to cities in the clouds. The fish-drawn ship is a work of wonder both in idea and execution. Even the inventory is well set out. being a kind of rotating spice rack on which you can place your items. There are also an impressive array of characters to run into including sentimental dinosaurs, malevolent cannibals and living scarecrows. Some of the characters and scenes seem to be deliberate references to other games. The pirates who Zannie runs into are a definite affectionate joke on Monkey Island. These are the more effective moments of humour in the game.

At other times I would say the humour is one of Hand Of Fate's weaknesses. It tries too hard to be funny, lays it on with a trowel and falls flat on its face. (It mixes its metaphors quite often too.) There are genuinely funny -moments but they're few and far between. It might just be a cultural difference, American humour and all that but much of it just seems childish and heavy handed. Compare this with Sam And Max which was so funny I laughed out loud.

The balance of the game is a bit odd in this way. One moment childish humour, the next moment Zan being boiled alive or eaten by a dinosaur. Oh well, variety is the spice of life.

Picture box

If anything, this review proves that it's easier to write negative copy as opposed to positive. Despite all the criticisms I come here to praise Hand Of Fate not to bury it. It's a great game and a great improvement on its predecessor Legend Of Kyrandia. With excellent graphics and an imaginative storyline it's one of the best adventures I've seen recently with a good balance of puzzles and variety of locations. It's not the game's fault that I'm a humourless old grouch.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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