Review by Freebooter16

"An excellent strategy game set in a richly detailed fantasy world"

King of Dragon Pass is a little-known simulation/RPG released by A-Sharp. Set in the fantasy world of Glorantha, the game lets you control the fate of a small group of settlers struggling to survive in Dragon Pass, after a tyrant drives them from their homeland.

The most interesting aspect of the game is that there are no graphics - the game is controlled through a series of menus and selection bars. It's somewhat like old DOS games like Taipan, but with pictures as well as text. This can be quite confusing at first, but it doesn't take long to get used to the system.

Gameplay - 8/10

This really depends on your personal taste. If you like simulation or strategy games, you'll enjoy King of Dragon Pass. You control various aspects of the clan's life; you can choose which crops to plant, send trading missions out to other clans, attack or form alliances with other clans, sacrafice to the gods, recruit warriors or farmers, build temples, send out exploration parties and much, much more. As well as this, random events occur frequently - a large picture will show up, as well as a length of text explaining what has happened, and several options. These can range from simple things, such as another clan proposing an alliance or asking for a favour, to crazy and possibly life-threatening events, like having zombies attack your settlement! There is almost always a way to escape from such an event unharmed (or even benefited), depending on your clan's mood, the skill of your leaders, other clans' opinions of you, and of course your own personal choice.

Throughout the game, there are seven little boxes at the bottom of the screen, which you can fill with your choice of advisors. Each of them has their own special skills and abilities - there are traders, warriors, farmers, magicians, leaders and others. Not only can you click on them for advice whenever you want, but you can also send them out on missions - to form a trade route, for example, or lead warriors on a rescue mission. Each of them has a degree of skill in a certain characteristic (Combat, Leadership, Bargaining etc.) and it is this skill that will determine whether or not they succeed. Your advisors can easily die or get hurt - in fact, as the years go by their faces will age, and eventually they will die of natural causes. You can then replace him or her with a new one.

Story - 10/10

King of Dragon Pass has one of the richest and most detailed backgrounds of any game I've ever played. The basic concept is that your people's country is divided into clans and villages of 1000 people or so. They live a primitive life of agriculture and war (similar to a kind of land-borne Vikings, in fact) in a place called Heortland, until an evil usurper causes many clans to flee to the wild region of Dragon Pass. There are about twenty or so other clans in the area when you arrive, and more will come. Some of them are enemies with you, while some are friends. The game basically follows your struggle, past base survival, into prosperity, and eventually into your efforts to unite the clans into a kingdom (assuming you don't succumb to Dragon Pass's many dangers in the first few years, of course). There is a strong sense that you are moving through a rich period of history, filled with adventure cand mystery.

Graphics - 7/10

There are no moving graphics in King of Dragon Pass, but that's just the way the game is - could you imagine South Park with talented animation? The illustrations are beautifully done, however, and give you an insight into the simple things about your people's culture.

Sound - 6/10

The music is fairly average, and always suitable for the situation - dark, brooding tones whenever something bad happens (e.g, corpse found out in the woods with no blood and puncture holes in the neck), or chirpy flute music whenever something good happens (rainbow touches down into your settlement). There are also sound effects for certain re-occuring situations - hubbub and chatter whenever you reorganise your clan's advisors, or arrows flying, swords clanging and people screaming whenever you go into battle. These are very realistic, but there isn't much variety, and both the sound effects and the music get old fast.

Replay Value - 9/10

It can get a little boring being buried under statistics all the time, but fortunately this is a game you can leave for a month and then come back to. Finishing the game unaided is near impossible, and you'll almost certainly require a walkthrough, so that will keep you busy. But it also takes a long time to experience every event, explore every corner and hear every little story. Every now and then, an event will pop up that I've never experienced before - and I've had this game for almost five years now.

Overall Score - 9/10

Again, it comes down to your personal preferance - King of Dragon Pass is not everyone's cup of tea. If you like fast action and thrills, look elsewhere. If you'd prefer an interesting strategy game with a great fantasy story included, you should definitely check it out.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/29/04

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