Quest for Glory (Series)
Legendary series that will have you interpret a nameless hero from the East, Quest for Glory is an epic saga composed by five chapters that will see you rise from the position of “average guy” to that of an hero renowned in all the world.
The most peculiar trait of those games stays in the hybridation between the adventure and RPG genres: your protagonist will have in fact to be chosen among the classes of Fighter, Wizards or Thief (and later, if you satisfy certain requisites, Paladin), each one mastering a specific set of abilities, like weapon use, parry and throwing for a Fighter, Magic with all its many spells for a Wizard and lockpicking, climbing, acrobatics and sneak for a Thief.
It is actually possible to play a hybrid character with all the abilities of every class, but in my opinion that leaves all the role playing fun out of the equation, providing you always an easy solution without the challenge to think like a determined character would (and forcing you to grind for hours, if you want any kind of mastery in any discipline).
All the five installments have been programmed to respond differently to what you choose, presenting many alternate solution to each riddle based on your class specialties, so even considering the basics alone a great replayability us already guaranteed. I have especially appreciated the fact that, after finishing an episode, you can transfer your character to the next, maintaining your stats and -some-of your items.
The strong points of the series are not only its hybrid nature, but also the great and always present sense of humor (with maybe a bit too many puns), the strong personalities of every character, from the main antagonists to the average farmer, and the huge amount of different cultural folklore themes the developers included.
Each chapter has in fact a main setting and a main theme, starting from classic among the classic Medieval Germany to the Middle East, Africa, Transylvania and Greece, everyone bearing more or less known traditional elements, both visually, mythologically and humorously wise.
Another aspect that really impressed me with the series as a whole is that each game shows also the growth of the young hero, initially facing relatively small challenges and aided by many friends and lately left alone in unknown lands fighting against some of the greatest menaces the world could ever face.
As far as mechanics go, there is little to say you already don't know: the first two episodes use a text parser input method (something I struggled a bit with in the beginning but learned to appreciate more later, even arriving to hope some new game can take that road again) while the first episode remake and the others are your classic point and click adventure goodness.
All puzzles are very well studied and will require cleverness and effort to be solved with only a minimal amount of grinding to hone your skills enough to make them effective in the most hostile environments, and completing each quest is extremely satisfying and could really make you feel a bit like an hero for a day.
Moreover, in addition to the diversity given by the three classes, it is noticeable to see that even for a single one the puzzles have multiple solutions more often than not and will rarely let you feel stuck; speaking of which, I have to move a criticism.
There are no illogical puzzles, and with a bit of effort everything can fall into place... the real problem, though, is FINDING what you have to do. The rudimentary “copy protection system” pushed the developers to craft very large, maze-like confusing maps that you can easily navigate only when looking the manual, and while this is annoying only in the beginning (after that, you'll either recognize the paths or you will be allowed to quick-travel) it is the most displeasing and painfully time consuming present feature.
The combat is also a nice addition, keeping things simple (hit, parry, dodge, cast, each game has it sown way of dealing with them) and fun and showing you the ample display of monsters a true hero should have to face. By the way, Beware the Antwerp!
Another criticism I have to move is the number of forced combat encounters for every class (my Thief was especially hurt by this) in QfG5: that game was heavier on the RPG side than on the adventure one, increasing the number of combat gadgets but also sometimes requiring forced physical engagement over more elaborate and peaceful solutions -solution that usually proved to be the most enjoyable way for non-fighter characters. Still, it remains a great game and a very fitting conclusion to the series.
I recommend Quest for Glory to everyone, not only to fan of then genres; it is a real classic and the perfect definition for good old game, and it will probably remain immortal in the Olympus of gaming awesomeness, along with titles of the caliber of Ultima Underworld, Deus Ex and others.
Playing trough it was a real joy, and I admit that I will miss the series now that it is over. Few games could make me say the same.
Missing it would be a real injustice, so I warmly invite you to play it: you won't regret a second of it!