Dark Queen of Krynn / SSI (1992)

Strum Brightblade's Verdict: I'd appreciate one of these games taking place while I was still around.

Raistlin Majere's Verdict: cough *cough* hack gllaaaghhh er... hiss!

My Verdict: This is interactive fiction in more ways than one.

Game Information

Game Type: 3D Window RPG with a tile-based action mode

Author Info: SSI published numerous games under the Dragonlance Chronicles line.

Other Games By This Author: Champions of Krynn, Death Knights of Krynn

Download Link: N/A

The Review...

The thing about Interactive Fiction that really interests me is the ability and opportunity for characterization. In effective, well written   literature I see individual characters more as... symbols. I can then gain an understanding of the people I interact with in real life, thus providing a warm foundation of togetherness, good times... ZZZzzz... zzz.... hurm.

Whoa! Fell asleep there for a second. The Dark Queen of Krynn is about hacking the living hell out of evil draconians! Beating them to death with fricking maces, swords and -- get this -- magic spells. Kill-ah!

DQK is the third game in SSI's trilogy based on the Dragonlance series of books and role playing games. Their are six Dragonlance books that DQK, the game, is based on. The first trilogy concerns a team of companions attempting to rid their world of evil dragons and their human lords. While the fantasy milleiu has been done to death, the books shine as character studies. The second trilogy features a pair of twins from the first series: a magic-user and warrior. The magic-user (Raistlin) attempts to defeat the Dark Queen and in the process the reader learns a great deal about him and his brother Caramon. If you are fortunate enough to have a brother in this world, the second trilogy explores a bond that you have no doubt felt. Furthermore, if you are fortunate enough to play any kind of on-line role playing game you will instantly recognize all the little jeeb r0</3n1$ playing with the name "Raistlin." Weird thing is that they all role-play the crazed-with-power side of his personality quite well but seem to gloss over the basic weakness of constitution that he had due to the crippling price he paid for his magic. An oversight, I'm sure.

The Dark Queen returns for this computer game, you see.

From the get-go, DQK takes an interest in the characters you are playing with. Relationships have always been the strength of the Dragonlance series of books and this is effectively communicated. The party has to act as a team -- you must protect the various members of the party at different times. During combat it's possible for a character to just fall over through excessive wounds -- you now need to manuever one of the other players so that he or she can bandage up that character. A certain breed of elf can not be resurrected, offering an incredible challenge if you decide to go with it. The game forbids playing characters of evil alignment which I can respect -- Baldur's Gate, for instance, allows such an alignment but utterly and completely frowns upon remotely playing that way. In that respect, DQK does not insult its player's intelligence.

The game's story is mostly told through a series of "Journal Entries" that are included in the game's manual. An interesting bit of copy protection, supposedly, but also due to the fact that this game shipped on a floppy and, er, couldn't handle all that text? Possibly. Nevertheless, the player and his characters are always motivated and you always know what you need to accomplish next.

There are two "modes" of gameplay -- the "3D" dungeon view section (with competent VGA graphics, actually) and then the tile-based combat portion. It's possible to escape a fight by running away, although of course your characters will be called out as complete pissing cowards by anyone over your back watching you play. Good luck there, then.

While it's fun enough as an intelligent dungeon crawl, the reason I consider this game interactive fiction is because it made me care so much about my characters. Unlike, say, The Bard's Tale or Wizardry, I never felt that they were simply a collection of stats. I never tried to "min/max" their abilities, but instead kept them with weapons and items that fit their personalities. The game will sometimes pick a player from your party and have something "happen" to him. When playing the game and seeing how my Knight had fallen in love, well, that was pretty cool. They had taken on lives of their own -- something instantly solid about any game that includes it, but so few actually do. 

Interactive Fiction does not necessarily have to be reams of text followed by clever player input. Without question, that style can work wonderfully well. But being able to decide how a story progresses and actually giving a damn about the characters involved -- The Dark Queen of Krynn proves its possible to create this effect in an entirely different manner then we expect. Recommended.





Simple Rating: 9.3 / 10 (this game, quite simply, rises above the sum of its inherent parts....)

Complicated Rating:

Story:  8.2 / 10

Writing: 6.9 / 10

Playability: 6.5 / 10

Puzzle Quality: 7.2 / 10

Graphics: 7.9 / 10

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