The second Lands of Lore game manages to mostly retain the style of the first, while making some concessions to 1997 technology to try to keep pace with contemporaries like the Elder Scrolls games. It's a polygonal free-roaming world map now that looks and plays kinda like Duke Nukem 3D: The RPG, and the game uses motion-captured actors in costumes for most of its NPCs (and a few enemies), but otherwise the gameplay and structure are real similar to the original Lands of Lore. You sort of move between unmarked "chapters" where you're only given access to limited chunks of the game world, and when entering many locations you go into a first-person fixed screen that resembles an adventure game.

            Watch your step there brehski

You're also stuck with only one main character in this one (no choice at the outset), and you don't get any companions en route. We play as Luther, son of Scotia, the witch who was the central villain of the first game. Just before Scotia died, she tried to magically send her shapeshifting powers to her son, but somehow the magical wires got crossed or whatever and all Luther inherited was the curse of changing into either a large freakish monster or a tiny lizard at completely random times. Luther separated from his mum before she went down the whole "crazy evil crone" path so he turned out to be a decent guy, didn't ask for any of this and just wants to get rid of this shapeshifting curse that completely ruins all his dates. Finding a woman who has a fetish for ogres or lizards isn't really that hard, but both at the same time? Whuf.

The "RPG" aspect of this one is actually even lighter than the first game, emphasizing story strongly over combat mechanics and leveling. The areas you visit are often large and sprawling (sometimes too much so) and have lots of little obscure hidden things to find, but some of them have almost no combat whatsoever, and you're always stuck on a linear story track that you can't really deviate from. From time to time you get the opportunity to take shortcuts by murdering someone or stealing some shit, and doing enough of that puts Luther down a "dark" path which can lead to different endings, but otherwise the game is pretty much on rails. The first game was like this too, but varying main characters and a rotating array of companions as well as more level-up options and more combat made it feel more "RPG-y" than this one does.

Westwood games of the early 90s had this certain charm and polish to them that often did a lot to overcome structural deficiencies, and a good amount of that remains even with the abandonment of detailed pixel art for early, murky, low-res polygons and grainy video acting. You've still got a great soundtrack in the vein of the first game (and by the same people). You've still got a sarcastic main character making oddball observations, and I was endlessly amused by his grunts of "Ohh" and "Huh" when you click on unimportant objects (even though some flavor text wouldn't have gone amiss there). And decent writing, characters and an overall fairly engaging game world (when it isn't being obnoxious).

I could have done without the clunky jumping at times, and having to sometimes wander around aimlessly while you wait for your character to randomly transform in order to proceed past some obstacle, and a better mapping system and a little more direction maybe, but otherwise this is a pretty solid story-based RPG, if very linear and on the easy side. A little tough to get running under modern Windows when playing from discs though, check below for instructions that might help.

Links :

Get the game running with DOSBox in Windows 7 - If you buy it through GOG this isn't an issue, but if you get a deal on the disc versions or just want it on your shelf for posterity or whatever, here's how to get the game to install without crashing. Probably works in other Windows versions too, but untested.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video