Quest for Glory 1 Review

The third game I’ll review is fairly different from the first two. While Champions of Krynn was a classic Gold Box AD&D game and Saga Frontier was an open world classless JRPG, this game is something quite different.

Quest for Glory 1 is an adventure-RPG hybrid that takes the adventure game elements of the King’s Quest series and marries them to a custom CRPG system.

It was originally pitched to Sierra executives as a rich, narrative-driven role-playing experience by Lori Cole.

Quest for Glory holds a special place in my heart due to its offbeat humour, the flexibility of its RPG system and the multiple ways to accomplish your goals.

To learn more about the game go to Abandonia for screen shots and a more in-depth description or view the faqs on GameFAQs to learn more about the gameplay and plot. Or you can view this Let’s Play by TecPontificates to see the game in action.

For the purpose of this review I will be talking about the original EGA version, which is what I played. While I have the newer VGA version I have not beaten it and cannot give a full review.

Here’s a photo of the original box back when it was called “Hero’s Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero”:

Heros Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero Front Box Cover

Quest for Glory 1 – Original Box

Before I begin I should probably remind you of my crpg game review criteria, which explains my methodology.

And now we can move on to the story of when I got this game and my first impressions.

First Impressions & Backstory

I got the game on Christmas day 1989. I was so excited to try it out but could not since there were other presents to open and time to spend with family. In all my free time that morning I read the manual and Famous Adventurer’s Guide multiple times. The humour and writing drew my in and by the time I got around to installing the game on numerous floppy disks after lunch I was revved up to start playing. Modern games downloaded via GoG or Steam miss out on the experience of having the player fully read the manuals and if the writing is great get sucked into the world.

I decided to build a magic-user, the description in the manual made them sound the most interesting.

Below is a screenshot of my best approximation of the original character I made. Note the thief skills added on to make the character more flexible.

Speaking of skills, let’s look at the CRPG system of Quest for Glory.

CRPG System

Let me repeat from my last review that “The CRPG System Matters”, one of the reasons why it gets 20 points allocated to it instead of 10.

Quest for Glory uses an attribute/skill based system with three main classes:

  • Fighter
  • Thief
  • Magic-User

The classes determine your starting attribute and skill allocation as well as your starting equipment and spells. There is no Cleric class unlike many other games although in future games in the series you can become a Paladin or learn a healing spell.

One of the great things about this simple system is that you can mix and match skills. You can have a fighter with magical skills, a thief that can parry or a magic-user with thief skills. It is next to impossible to have every skill but you can get most of them. Skills go from 0 (untrained) to 100 (master.)

The variety of skills let you choose how you want to handle quests or environmental issues such as locked doors. Depending on what skills you have available you could have three or four different ways you can solve a quest.


There is a ring in a nest as an early quest. You can either use the Fetch spell to get it, throw rocks at the next to knock it down or click up the tree and get it.

To build your skills or magic you need to use them or have them trained. There are five types of training in the game:

  • Manual labor to build muscles and stamina
  • Fencing lessons with a swordmaster
  • Dagger or rock throwing
  • Casting spells on the environment
  • Combat

Unlike future games in the series your skill levels actually matter in this game, if they are two low you will fail more often at your tasks. This makes training vital to having a good character at the end of the game.

Even spells have skill levels. Your skill level for a spell determines how much damage it does or if the spell will succeed in a certain situation. The downside for having spell skill tracked is that there are few of them. But in return the spells do work in multiple ways, the developers did a lot of good work in making the magic system work within the environment. This is one of the key differentiators from other CRPGs.

The game is missing social skills like Persuade and Barter that are implemented in future games.

In conclusion the RPG system some very good elements but is “missing” a lot of elements most hardcore players are used to. This is acceptable due to it being a hybrid adventure-rpg game or adventure game ith rpg elements tacked on to it.

Verdict: 13 / 20

Gameplay

The EGA and VGA offer wildly different gameplay experiences which I’ll discuss under the User Interface section.

You are given some major quests but you do not have to do them right away. The game gives you open freedom to explore and learn about the land and its inhabitants.

Unlike many modern games there is very little hand holding which makes the gameplay much more enjoyable as you figure things out for yourself.

Here’s an example of a goblin about to be hit by a spell:

Quest for Glory 1 - Spells Against a Goblin

Using Magic Against a Goblin

When in combat you switch to a front-up view with the monster. There are not a lot of options. Below the hero struggles against a Cheetaur, one of the more dangerous foes in the game:

Quest for Glory 1 - Spells Against a Goblin

To summarize the gameplay I would say that Quest for Glory 1 has:

  • Strong written manual and adventurer’s journal set the tone for the game
  • Many humourous moments that make discovery and “clicking on everything” very enjoyable
  • A world that is much more interactice than most CRPG worldsA difficulty level that does scale to how close you are to the town and time of day (more dangerous monsters come out at night) making early exploration easier and the end game more difficult as your knowledge and your character’s power grows
  • An economy that is fairly balanced versus what is available to buy and how easy it is to make money
  • It would have been nice if there were more spells for magic-users that interacted with the environment, they have a great foundation for that in place but there is always so much more they could have done
  • In particular spells that created temporary barriers for enemies, in DnD terms ‘battlefield control’ spells

Verdict: 15 / 20

Fun Factor

Here’s one of the funniest set of characters in the game:

QfG1 is a fun game to play.

Exploring new areas is fun.

Solving difficult puzzles is fun.

Beating a monster for the first time is fun.

Mastering a new spell is fun.

The game has a decent magic system, exploration is fun and vital, there are multiple ways to solve problems and the wacky sense of humour makes the experience distinct from many pure rpgs.

Sometimes ‘grinding’ to build up skills or to try and get all the puzzle points can takeaway from that fun. Sometimes trying to guess the exact verbage needed to solve a puzzle is annoying. Sometimes running into goblin after goblin when you are trying to travel from one end of the map to another makes you wish for teleportation magic.

But overall it is an enjoyable experience.

You should enjoy playing this game if you like rpgs.

Verdict: 7 / 10

Re-playability

Having played this game to completion 3 times there are some replayable elements to the game.

After replaying the game as an adult here is what I’ve noticed:

    I enjoyed replaying the same basic adventure due to the humour and exploration aspects
    The main choice you can make that is different is your class and attribute/skill allotments
    There is a main quest and a number of side quests and class specific quests that give a fair amount of things you can do
    Random monster spawning is the only world changes each playthrough, other than that everything is static

Verdict: 4 / 10

User Interface

Many newer gamers might find the old keyboard movement and typing command interface too difficult and clunky to use and luckily for them there is a point-and-click VGA version available.

Perhaps nostalgia took hold but it was fun to use the old interface and try and guess the best words to type to get the desired actions.

The drawback to that system is that you had to guess how the developer phrased the actions you wanted to do, sometimes they did a good job of handling multiple word choices, sometimes they did not. Sometimes the system lets you try perfectly reasonable things, other times it locks you out of actions because the developer didn’t think of that possiblity or didn’t want you to try that. With text based interpreter systems like the one used in QfG1 out-of-the-box thinkers can get frustrated.

Movement was great with the arrow keys or numpad and casting spells by typing ‘cast flame dart’ was fine. The one way I would make the system better would be by providing a pause function that doesn’t lock the typing. That would let you type the name of the spell you want to cast without rushing.

All in all the experience reminded me why the interface on the old adventure games was changed. It was enjoyable but had many warts that would make the game less enjoyable for casual gamers.

Verdict: 6 / 10

Story

The story revolves around a wanna-be hero (that’s you) and your literal quest for glory. You start out as a complete unknown having graduated from the correspondance hero training course (read the documentation carefully) and ready to make a name for yourself.

You arrive in a land that seems to be suffering many woes and it is your job to investigate and solve them.

How the plot will unfold is not that difficult to guess once you know the basics.

There are very many silly elements to the story and the plot. Luckily they don’t overwhelm the serious part of a character wanting to be a hero. As a whole the humor does add to the game and make it more enjoyable.

The one big letdown I have with the story is that even though the different classes and skills let you have situations differently, the main story and experience is essentially the same for each class. It would have been nice if there were 1-2 more quests specific to fighters and magic-users beyond killing certain monsters and gaining certain spells. The thieves guild experience is a little better in that regard but beyond practicing skills, gaining equipment and robbing a couple of houses thieves don’t have much else to do beyond general adventuring.

Verdict: 7 / 10

Modability

As far as I am aware Quest for Glory has never had a mods made for it and I have little interest now in trying to create one.

The only changes I’ve ever made are hacks to save games to modify attributes or spells which falls mostly under cheating and exploration than modding.

So I have to give the game a 0 for this feature and thus Quest for Glory 1 falls victim to the time it was made.

Verdict: 0 / 10

Graphics & Sound

EGA graphics are nothing to brag about, even for the enhanced TGA version I had.

PC speaker sounds are nothing to brag about, but I still love listening to some of the MIDI songs.

But even though there is a VGA version available I still prefer the original due to nostalgia and the typing interface. QfG1 and QfG2 are my favourites in the series by a large margin and they have the ‘worst’ graphics of the series.

In summary:

  • The music is the highlight of the graphics and sound for the game
  • The sounds are average, nothing about them jumped out to me
  • The graphics are fine, especially for an EGA game

Verdict: 5 / 10

Design Lessons

Based on the above ratings, I think I can draw some design considerations:

  • Multiple solutions to problems are a good thing. RPGs have a lot to learn from adventure games here
  • The written word is still one of the most powerful ways we have to set the mood and atmosphere of a game. Don’t neglect manuals and adventurer’s journals. Use it
  • The design team chose to add humour to the game. Humour can backfire but if it works with the type of game and atmosphere it can really help the game be memorable

Rating & Final Impressions

Here are all the scores listed together:

Criteria Score
CRPG System 13 / 20
Gameplay 15 / 20
Fun Factor 7 / 10
Re-playability 5 / 10
User Interface 6 / 10
Story 6 / 10
Modability 0 / 10
Graphics & Sound 5 / 10
Total 57 / 100

Final Verdict: Held back by its lack of modability and some issues that modern games have overcome it is still a good game and has the best score of the first three games reviewed at 57 / 100.

If you are interested in the history of crpgs then this adventure/rpg hybrid is a must. You can pickup the entire series on GoG.com for a great price.

Greg Caughill

Greg Caughill

Greg Caughill is the owner and creative director of Broken Staff Studios.