Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire

Review by Kristophe
March 2006

"Game publishing decisions are being made by marketing research and committees. No one seems to be saying 'How do we entertain people in a way that no one has seen before?' Companies are competing based on 'Who has the prettiest graphics?' instead of on 'Who can build a game that is incredibly fun to play?'" Sierra Founder/CEO, Ken Williams, Adventure Classic Gaming interview dated March 28, 2006.

Those very thoughts were the mainstay of Sierra's gaming and business philosophy ever since Ken Williams started On-Line Systems (later to become Sierra Online) back in 1979. It was a philosophy that would produce some of the finest games ever made, from the earliest, Mystery House (1980), all the way through to S.W.A.T. 3 (1999). Of all the Sierra classics (and I've played almost all of them at one time or another), it was the Quest for Glory series of games—authored by the very talented team of Corey and Lori Cole—that I most dearly loved. And, needless to say, of the five games that comprised the Quest for Glory series, it was Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire that proved to be (in my opinion) the best of the best (unfortunately, it was also slated to become the last game of the series as well).

The game opens with you as the ever-wandering "Hero" (you can play either as a thief, a magic user, a fighter, or a paladin) being summoned by your old friend (the wizard Erasmus) to Silmaria, nestled within the enchanting island of Marete, where turmoil and trouble abound. It seems that the King of Silmaria was recently assassinated, Marete is under both foreign invasion and involved in a war with the Tritons, and a number of related and sinister events have or will be occurring. These events indicate some really dastardly and nefarious plans are underway even as you and a few other heroes get ready to compete in the Rites of Rulership—a series of tasks that will determine just who the next king of Silmaria will be. And if that wasn't enough to daunt most heroes, in this particular game the designers decided you'd been a bachelor for too long and are doing their level best to "hook you up" with a bride.

One of the nice things about any of the Sierra classic series of games is the fact that you do not have to play through the entire series to get a feel for the games. The Quest for Glory series is typical of the kind of games Sierra put out—the graphics would hardly be called "top-notch" by any stretch of the imagination when compared to the kinds of graphics we see in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivions of today; however, the excellent storyline, memorable characters, and capricious humor—coupled with some minor new innovations (e.g., swimming and pickpocket skills were unique to the game, while the skills of "weapon use/parry and dodge" were simplified to "offense" and "defense") and finalized with its legendary musical soundtrack as composed by Chance Thomas and performed by the Salt Lake City Session Orchestra (and a few other musicians)—more than make up for anything the graphics lack. And while the musical score is legendary, the same (unfortunately) could hardly be said for the voice acting (of course, there wasn't a "Voice Actor's Guild" back in those days, either). Compounding some of the technical issues with the game are poor camera control with no zoom feature (which can be very critical to a point-and-click type of game) and the lack of any kind of quest log to remind you where you left off in your last play session.

Though the world of Silmaria is not overly large, the continuing and updated series of events—coupled with that fact that you have quests in game that are unique to the type of Hero you choose to play—ensure that gameplay ran at a continually smooth and interesting pace. Then there are the Easter eggs and the rather slapstick (albeit sometimes risqué) humor and situations that kept me laughing throughout the game, and, as indicated above, the soundtrack. The music contributes greatly to the overall gaming experience—so much so that I even ordered the separate CD soundtrack for the game from Sierra (which I still listen to—my favorite track being "The Dance of Mystery and Intrigue"). Interestingly enough, the game runs smoothly on my present computer system (which is hardly an old system)—I've never had to use DOSBox to continue enjoying the same gameplay now as I had originally done some eight years ago.

As an interesting sidenote, Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire was not originally meant to be. When Sierra released Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness back in 1993 as one of the earliest PC game "talkies," it didn't do as well as expected due to the numerous flaws and bugs inherent with venturing into new territory gamingwise. It was only when fans of the series realized that it was ending and began their obviously successful campaign for another game from Sierra that Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire came into being. Sierra shipped it as a single-player game only, with plans to ship a multiplayer version of the game at a later date. Unfortunately, that never came about, as Yosemite Entertainment (the game's developer and a subsidiary of the Sierra On-Line family) shut down operations in early 1999. Incidentally, should anyone happen to ever find a reasonably good copy of this game in any given bargain bin, I'd highly recommend you snatch it up immediately. The last time I checked, had five copies of it available, ranging in price from $37 on up (I've seen it go as high as $70).

Be that as it may, whenever I become bored with the currently available gaming fare and want to be entertained, inevitably I pull out my Quest for Glory V disk … I still get the same sheer pleasure and gaming satisfaction playing today as I did when the game was new. Some might call it timeless—I like to think this particular game fits into the old adage that, "like a fine cask of wine, gentlemen just get better with age." Thank you, Corey and Lori Cole (and Sierra)! The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Yosemite Entertainment
Publisher: Sierra
Release Date: November 30, 1998

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

Windows 95/98
Pentium 166 MHz (200 MHz preferred)
6x CD-ROM drive (8x preferred)
350 MB free hard disk space
SVGA 640x480 at 16-bit high color (DirectX-compatible)
DirectX-compatible sound card for audio

120 MHz Power Macintosh
System 7.5 or higher
465 MB free hard disk space
16-bit video
6x CD-ROM drive

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