David Mcmurdo On March - 2 - 2010

Want to hear a secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you… I actually feel tremendous guilt when I have to give a game a bad score or speak ill of it because I know that the chances are that a lot of good people worked very hard developing it. I’ve always felt this way which is why never once in my “career” have I attacked the people responcible for even the worst games either individually or as a collective. Someone I’ve known online for a considerable time sent me a clip of Stephen Fry talking about critics the other day and he was essentially discussing what a hateful job it must be and the nature of the kind of people who would wilfully pursue such work. I agree completely with his sentiments but I also believe there is a way to be honestly critical without being nasty and I like to think that I achieve this in my reviews.

The reason I bring this up is that today I’m reviewing yet another game published by 1C Company who were also responcible for the excellent Majesty 2 (my review of which can be found on this very website). I’ve developed something of an affection for 1C Company because if there is one thing I have found in common with their games it’s that whether they are good or bad, they’ve been made with heart and that isn’t something to be ignored. They also generously send us these games for review which at the very least shows they are not afraid of honest critique. Given my role here at Wedotech I inevitably end up reviewing them (I have another on my schedule immediately after this one) and I always hope that they will be really good. At the same time though, I am of course here to review them and give my honest opinion.

Another Wedotech staff meeting goes horribly wrong.

A Farewell to Dragons was developed by Arise and KranX Productions and based on a fantasy novel written by Russian authors Sergey Lukyanenko and Nikolay Perumov. Now I have never before read the source material but assuming this game is faithful to it, much seems to have been “inspired” by more popular works most obviously The Chronicles of Narnia. The plot centres around Victor, just a typical guy living in our time who is whisked away to “Middle World” (hmm…) by a young girl named Telle and naturally ends up holding its fate in his hands.

The developers were obviously working with limited resources and so the game is very simplistic technically speaking but for what it is, it runs beautifully and I encountered no issues whatsoever. Graphically the game reminds me very much of Dungeon Siege, the popular action RPG from 2002 so needless to say if it’s state of the art visuals you’re looking for you won’t find them here. You know what though? A Farewell to Dragons is better than Dungeon Siege and its sequel. Besides, the gameplay style is more reminiscent of the likes of Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights.

My GeForce 9800 slept while I played A Farewell to Dragons.

If you’ve ever played a mouse-driven RPG on the PC before in your life then you’ll instantly be at home with this game. The interface is as simple and user-friendly as it gets with the left mouse button selecting things and the right mouse button issuing commands which differ depending on the context. For example you can click and drag to select your entire party and then right click on an enemy to attack him or right click on a friendly character to initiate conversation. It’s a very typical control scheme precisely because it usually works so well and it certainly does here. The one unusual element is the fact that you can use the W, S, A and D keys to scroll around the map and see what is happening in locations you may not have even visited yet but this is clearly a matter of style and not a problem with the game.

A Farewell to Dragons offers a very traditional kind of adventure that involves travelling from location to location, gaining new companions, being assigned quests, earning money, upgrading your equipment and fighting adversaries. The setting of Middle World is as clichéd as it gets with bandits and wolves lurking in the woods and dwarves with a heavily industrialised culture. If the game had voice acting they’d definitely have Glaswegian accents. Everything is so wrapped up in cliché that it actually becomes quite charming at a certain point which came for me when I gave up expecting anything original and just got comfortable with the familiarity of it all.

The Dwarves even operate a railway which sure beats the hell out of British Rail.

The setting may be generic but the amount of weaponry, armour, items, skills and magic available to you is quite astounding and for this reason alone I can imagine plenty of people having lots of fun playing A Farewell to Dragons, one of whom is a close friend of mine that I’m going to send this review to after I’m finished. You can pause the game at any time to swap items between characters and give commands and the game will automatically pause for you in serious circumstances such as when a character’s hitpoints have fallen below 50%. I think anyone who plays this game will be thankful for that because A Farewell to Dragons actually offers quite a tough challenge even on normal difficulty. My advice to any potential players would be to take your time and ensure that you explore thoroughly and equip your team with the best gear around.

Wedotech’s Editor, James, asked me earlier what score I intended to give A Farewell to Dragons and I said “three stars” but now as I come to the end of my review I realise that I cannot in good conscience do that because it really deserves more. Plus he recently gave The Farm three stars and I simply won’t be able to sleep tonight if I give a score which implies that this game is on par with that. I do feel that I need to make certain things absolutely clear for anyone interested in purchasing this title though. A Farewell to Dragons is a solid RPG with which I honestly cannot identify any real problems. Having said that it does employ outdated technology so if you’re one of those people who can’t bear to play anything that doesn’t utilise the latest graphical technology (in other words, if you’re an idiot) then just forget that this game even exists and while you’re at it, stop talking to me.

"Move along folks, nothing to see here..."

A Farewell to Dragons actually feels like a lovingly crafted fan game in the sense that it was obviously designed with enthusiasm but without the technology and manpower that the likes of Bioware have available to them. I mean the game even comes on a CD as opposed to a DVD but strangely this only serves to give it a certain kind of charisma as if the developers are all lovable characters and not the faceless corporate drones from larger companies who churn out the latest soulless bestseller every couple of months. The writing, sound, artwork and just about every other aspect of this game can be safely described as “good” with nothing being exceptional and nothing being terrible. If you’re looking for a good old fashioned adventure designed in a time honoured fashion then A Farewell to Dragons will provide you with hours on end of potion swigging, sword stabbing, spell casting entertainment.

Categories: Feature, PC Reviews

6 Responses

  1. ramtin says:

    the game rocks.some side quests are not interesting but overally it’s enjoyable.

  2. ramtin says:

    and did you know the game is out in russia since 2007?
    so we are talking about more than 2 years ago game,no wonder that your GeForce 9800 slept while you were playing A Farewell to Dragons!!!!

  3. ramtin says:

    however i know even for a 2007 game,the graphics are not a big deal….
    (sorry for posting separate messeges,i couldn’t edit the previous one)

  4. Thanks for your comments. I did read somewhere that the game had been released in Russia two years ago but I couldn’t confirm that so I left it out of my review. I find it very hard to find information on a lot of these titles. It’s still a fun game.

  5. ramtin says:

    i understand.to find info about many of russian games(developed and(or)published by 1c,buka or other companies)the best way is to use google translator and browse russian gaming websites,read forums and etc..so less info is available in english about their games.
    keep up the good work &
    best regards.

  6. Voidwalker68 says:

    Game is hardly playable as it is with horrid translation issues, and bugged beyond. I do not ask for perfection but the EN/UK/US versions really needs to be patched. Few steam-punk titles around so the game WOULD be worth playing if fixed. Due to the language issues, as well the general state of the game I´d only give it 1/5. Will retest if the game ever gets patched but this does not seem to be a priority with the developer/publishers.

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