Despite what some of us might think, classic adventure games aren’t dead. Even after Telltale decided to ditch the working formula in favour of a new, more dynamic gameplay style, there are still some enthusiastic developers that keep working on their decidedly more orthodox adventures. One such title is Quest For Infamy, where the bulk of the gameplay indeed does play out from a standard adventure gaming viewpoint.
The game is sporting a pixellated look that’s going to be a subjective hit or miss, just as visually similar titles usually are. It depends on your own preferences whether this style will resonate with you or not. As far as being true to the genre’s roots goes, however, the graphics are perfect. In dialogues, you’re treated to a more detailed and realistic, but still retro visage of the currently speaking character. These are nicely drawn and make the whole talking business a much more engaging experience than it would have been without them. The UI, while entirely hidden for the most part, is a bit too clunky for my taste. Some modernizations would have gone a long way towards making using it more enjoyable. As for the sounds, the game feels like a mixed bag of good and bad voice-over. At times, it seems as if the voices were recorded with poor equipment, and I’d be lying if I said that this doesn’t take away from the experience. Still, I haven’t encountered this problem all that often and it’s the only real issue I had with what is overall a great adventure RPG.
Quest For Infamy begins with the protagonist, Roehm, climbing out the back of a wagon and about to enter the town of Volksville. The universe in which the game takes place is of the fantasy kind, but more similar to the likes of King’s Quest than that of The Elder Scrolls. Expect Disney-grade wizards with pointy shoes and hats to help you out and old-school goblins to attack you. In this respect, Quest For Infamy celebrates the classical fantasy tropes that we consider plain and overused today. What makes them endearing, though, is the fact that they are often the parody of themselves. While the game does make extensive use of its ‘old’ assets, it uses them masterfully and to great extent. Don’t expect to be bored while playing QFI. The character personalities are spot on, too, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the interaction between a vast selection of NPCs and Roehm himself. He’s a brigand that isn’t afraid to sarcasm his way through people and situations. A perfect fit for the game, as you will often place find yourself in situations that are sure to make you chuckle.
Those of us who didn’t spend much time with the old RPG and adventure games will probably be a tad bit lost at the beginning, due to the fact that there’s little in the way of tutorials and such implemented. As I said before, the setup itself is pretty straightforward, but there’s a whole bunch of hidden gameplay systems you’ll need to learn about before setting out into the world. The gameplay offers a nice selection of ways to manipulate and interact with the environment and NPCs, and the fact that there’s combat in the game is a huge plus. You will need to buy health potions and better equipment, too. And there’s actual –albeit contextual- stealth system that will prove quite useful as the game progresses. Roehm will traverse a whole load of vastly different environments, and while there’s no pixel hunting per se, you will often want to explore these levels for additional goodies and witty commentary. The manual save option is implemented, and you’ll want to use it extensively – something I learned the hard way. It’s quite easy to die in Quest For Infamy and some frustrations could arise should you not save often enough.
The main feature this game has that is sorely missing from most modern adventures is its non-linearity. You will be let off the leash from the get go, and you can leave the starting city without even taking a look at it, but there are many things that incentivize you to check it out. Character specialization (brigand, ranger, spellcaster) is just one of them. The pretty barmaid is another reason. There are very few artificial „walls“ that prohibit your advancement. The sense of freedom is what will probably amaze you the most. Quest For Infamy rewards exploration and encourages experimentation. Provided that you save your game often enough, as we’ve concluded earlier.
In the end, Quest For Infamy is a lovingly created love letter to the hybrid genre we see all too rarely these days. It offers the best of both worlds while harkening back to the days when adventure gaming drove the industry forward. If you’ve played Dirk, King’s Quest or are simply a fan of the genre, this game is a must. For those who yearn for a more traditional adventure, it’s bound to give you something to carry you over until something new appears on the horizon. A definitive recommendation.