History: Well this is one my favorite stories, King Arthur and the Round Table, one of nobility and deception, family and friends, living together in one large Peyton Place mess in the 5th century. It has incest, rape, illegitimate heirs, mystical green knights, courageous and self-sacrificing knights, son usurpers, noble ideals, champions of the common man, wizards, ladies in the lake, magical swords, Merlin (everyone’s favorite magician), and the Dragon.
Plot: The year is 420 A.D., where Gawain, played by you, is just knighted in the Albion chapel. Morganna Le Fay, an evil sorceress, murders the priest and leaves. Your quest is to find Merlin, get a message for Morganna, deliver the message to Morganna, who disappears again, find Morganna again and kill Morganna, who stays put the third time. All the history alluded to above has no place in this game.
Graphics are nothing short of stunning. Beautiful castles, stained glass windows, tapestries, the round table, and other trappings adorn the buildings and out side locations that you explore from one side of the kingdom to the other. There are over 100 locations to explore. Gawain himself and the other characters are attractively rendered in bright outfits.
Game play: Is moving back and forth, slowly, over large distances to find quest items that are very small, not the single pixel type seen in some of the adventure games in the near past, but still difficult to find. The first click gives a description of the item, while the second click picks it up. A more sensible scheme is to ask the player if he or she wants to pick up the item, in a pop-up window with a yes or no button at the bottom, after the first click.
Even more frustrating is that this game of fetch and carry has no apparent purpose. All this carrying around does not expand your understanding of the quest, it is totally unrelated to the plot. If there was only a reason why you keep carrying an endless list of meaningless junk, then it would all be worth it. Now if they used the items to recount Arthurian lore, or to tell you something of history or the characters biography and wove it all together into the tapestry of the story, well then they would really have something. But they did NOT do this.
While I found meeting King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Lancelot, Queen Guinevere, and the Buxom and beautiful, albeit slightly dominating, Morgana fun and exciting. The character graphics are very well done. Unfortunately, the beautiful graphics do not make up for the step-n-fetch-it game play.
Combat is very awkward. I never got the hang of it. Simply turn it off by setting the difficulty level to easy in the options menu, like I did, and you will not have to get mad at or frustrated by the combat.
Animation is painfully slow and there is no spacebar or escape key to save you as there is in many graphic adventures. When you click on an area you wish to move to in those adventure games and hit the space bar you rocket to the other location indicated even if it is the other side of the screen. Using a faster processor will not speed up Gawain, who seems to be doomed to move slowly. The skeletons have smoother animation and more life-like movement than the regular characters. Go figure.
Another missing element is a magical map or transportation system that will jump you back to the room where the item is, eliminating the tedious walking through each beautifully rendered location. These simple tricks and tools have been known to adventure gamers for ages, why did Psygnosis designers elect to leave them out of the game?
Puzzles are of the treasure hunt variety where you locate many items. The puzzle plot is very linear and it prevents you from picking up items before their time, like that wine, these items mature and while they were always there, now they become hot spots where once the spot was not so hot. Due the the combined poor transportation system, slow moving Gawain animation, and the linear plots you are forced to plod through the same location repeatedly to find quest items. Three linked quests makes you repeat a journey three times to retrieve three items from virtually the same location. Poor Design.
These treasure hunt puzzles are annoying and unnecessary. Hot spots should stay hot all throughout the game until they are used for their purpose then they should turn off. This on again off again scheme is maddening.
Voice actors: The voices are less than well-done. The Austrian accent of the Merlin voice actor reminded me of the bouncers at the Gate of Hell club that the Chronomaster premier was held at in Los Angeles. An Arnold Schwartzenneger accent is just not convincing for Merlin. The other voices croak and whine but do not impress. Optional text only presentation may be preferred by some, while some may prefer text and voice to aid in understanding. The voice-overs are laced with toungue and cheek humor which some will love and others will just tolerate.
Musical score: The music is highly repetitive and without real merit as music. Luckily, the music can be turned off.
Sound effects: do the job.
Reviewing the reviewer: Chuck Miller, who is known for many articles and one of the most beautiful magazines of all time, Enchanted Realms, really did not enjoy this one, was tremendously annoyed by it, and did not rate it. Chuck said, "I can’t stand it when games employ such cheap, time-extending devices to lengthen play time- it leaves me feeling charged with unnecessary legwork." Most people who know of Chuck’s work know he is fair and knowledgeable.
Brian Workman spends over half his words chronicling the Arthurian legends. While Brian does a beautiful workman-like job (Arrggghhh, what a bad pun. -Ed.), the game has little to do with this long history. Almost a review.
Hint: Talk to Wilf the stable boy often for clues. You can let the computer fight for you, if you select easy difficulty from the options menu.
Peter Olafson, PC Games, August, 1996, volume 3, Number 8, pages 70, C+, 78%
Chuck Miller, www.cnet.com/Gamecenter/Reviews/Chronicles
Cindy Yans, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, September, 1996, pg. 102, 1/5 (20%-60%).
Brian Workman, Happy Puppy, no rating.
www.on-line.co.uk/docs/ch4/chron.htm, 5/5, (100%).
The Foxtel Gamemeister, www.club10.com.au/chronicle/chronicle.html, 84%.
Bernard Dy, Computer Player, volume 3, number 4, September, 1996, pg. 66, 6/10, (60%).