Knights of Legend by Origin - A Commodore 64 RPG Review

Control some characters, kill things, collect things, just another standard RPG from Origin back in 1989 right? Wrong. A thousand times wrong. Before you even start playing Knights of Legend it is clear that a lot of thought and planning has gone into this game. 142 pages are contained in the “Player’s Handbook” – a ridiculous level of detail has gone into this book – and this is ridiculous in a good way.

The opening page in the book explains how the people behind this game came up with the idea and progressed it through to completion (over an 8 year period) resulting in a presentation of the game to the Consumer Electrics Show in Chicago. Stunning stuff.

Anyway, putting the emotional back story to one side for a second – there is a game to discuss.

You take charge of 6 characters in a land called Ashtalarea. The aim is to ultimately explore this area and complete quests. The first call of duty though is to assemble your team of fighters and this itself requires some thought. You can choose from a variety of races, Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Keldens, the latter 2 only available as males. Then you have the available classes within those races/sexes. each with varying levels of stats for Strength, Quickness, Size, Health, Foresight, Charisma and Intellect. Each type of character also starts with varying weapons and gold. Exhausted yet? You shouldn’t be. This just gives you a degree of insight into the level of detail Knights of Legend holds. This detail should be applauded and welcomed, don’t ever load this game and think you will have a quick 10 minute play as it simply won’t happen.

The map contains villages for you explore and named forests to visit, each village contains people to speak to and a lot of them will have something interesting and informative to tell you. Here you can spend your gold, train with your weapons and ultimately set off, fully armored and armed to begin your aim to complete the 24 quests contained within Knights of Legend.

Combat is really where this game sets itself aside from others in the level of detail it contains. Everything is turn based and you set your troops to complete their actions before you select that you’re ending your turn. This can result in some genius elements of battle as your slow dwarf may be set to attack an empty space as you anticipate that your enemy will run into that space before your dwarf manages to wield his axe. With various ways of attacking (thrusting, swinging, hacking etc.) and the ability to aim at certain body parts of your opponent (you can view which parts of your opponent are damaged more than others) this is detail at the highest level. Rendering your opponents arm “useless” is worryingly enjoyable.

There are 25 ranks your character can progress through starting from Peasant. To progress through these ranks your characters must, individually, fight in the arena to prove their worth. A local weapon master will make the recommendation that you are ready to do so with a specific weapon – and he will send you there. Once you have gained a rank with one of your characters there is a real sense of achievement. This is just one element of the fondness you gain of your characters as you progress through the game – desperately protecting them in battle and striving to progress them through the ranks as best you can – ultimately completing the games main quests on your way to glory.

As RPGs go, Knights of Legend is a classic. Is it perfect? Not quite. You do require a lot of patience and a lot time to play this game. The game is contained over 4 double sided disks, so if you do have a second disk drive then make sure it’s set up, as fortunately Knights of Legend does recognize the second drive. Sometimes finding quests or battles on the map can be tricky and can involve a lot of going backwards and forwards (this can prove irritating). This game is worth persisting with though( it really is), this level of detail from Origin is stunning and overtime you will find yourself becoming addicted to having a “quick go” at KOL (as I have affectionately abbreviated it’s title). Just be warned, a “quick go” with this game is generally a few hours!

Written by Chris Burgoyne @chrisburgoyne

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