Review | Quest for Infamy

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Every once in a while, there comes a game so perfect, so enthralling that it seems to have been crafted by angels and delivered from heaven unto the mortal gamers. A special kind of experience that forever leaves its mark in your mind, the kind you will look back upon fondly for years to come.

But Quest for Infamy isn’t one of those games. No, my friend, it just plain fucking sucks.

You will, unfortunately, take the role of Roehm, a roving villain and ne’er-do-well, who’s caught porking the local baron’s daughter. After a hasty escape with the aid of a passing farmer, there’s a mighty storm and the bridge is washed out behind him, leaving poor Roehm stranded in the valley.

He soon arrives in the town of Volksville, where he finds himself swept up in local goin’s-on involving ancient cults, jerkass sheriffs, and a surprising number of trips to the library in the next city over.

As soon as the game begins you’re greeted with a title screen bearing a strong similarity to that of Sierra’s Quest for Glory series, and indeed, the entire reason for this game’s existence is because the fine folks at Infamous Quests played a computer once and pined to be young again.

Quest for Glory Image 3

But there’s a twist! See, you’re not a gallant hero this time. No, you’re a rotten scallywag! Well, not really. Though the game touts Roehm as a villainous sort, he’s really just a scoundrel who’s kind of a jerk at worst. He’s not exactly Satan, here.

To its credit, Infamy really does look very much like those old VGA titles did. It would certainly blend right in with the point-and-click titles we remember from the early 90s, and anyone familiar with Sierra’s adventure game interface will be immediately at home with Quest for Infamy‘s setup.

Unfortunately, Quest for Infamy is rather like this Chinese unlicensed knockoff Godzilla toy I had as a child that literally fell to pieces as soon as I removed the packaging. It looks more or less right if you squint a bit, but it just doesn’t compare to the real thing.

One annoyance right off the bat is lack of fullscreen support, or display options of any kind. The game starts in a smallish window, and by hell, it’s gonna stay that way. There’s not even a maximize button or anything.

I’ll give Infamous Quests the benefit of the doubt and assume it was done deliberately to retain the sort of aspect ratio and resolution an old adventure game would have used. It’s a small inconvenience, I suppose, compared to everything else wrong with this heap of shit, but a good throwback should aim to capture the essence of things past, not to adhere stubbornly to archaic design for the sake of it.

The worst visual component Infamy has to offer is its character portraits; talk to just about anyone and you will invariably be greeted with the face of a terrifying homunculus that looks to be composed of poorly mashed potatoes. Those that aren’t look like badly Photoshopped pictures of fat people.

No you fucking didn't.
No you fucking didn’t.

Roehm himself is about the only male character with a half-decent portrait, and even he kinda looks like he’s been raiding Captain Picard’s dresser.

The women, on the other hand, are almost universally attractive (Well, by this game’s standards, anyway, which is to say “not utterly horrifying”), and sultry, in that busty fantasy wench kind of way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just saying, it’s abundantly clear where the effort was spent.

Looks like John Lithgow's constipated again.
Looks like John Lithgow’s constipated again.

The voice acting is equally terrible. While Roehm himself has the rare moment of personality, everyone else is just garbage, and so is he 90% of the time. It has got to be the worst acting I’ve ever heard in a video game. It sounds like they just kept pulling random European hobos with ambiguous accents in off the street, getting them to read lines into the microphone as woodenly as possible, paid ’em off with a sandwich, and called it a day. Absolutely fucking atrocious.

Hell, it’s not even recorded properly. Apparently that $63,000 in Kickstarter money didn’t extend to a proper recording booth or decent equipment because half the time when the characters are speaking I can hear the walls of the room the lines were recorded in. That’s not even taking into account persistent audible microphone hiss, and a number of “actors” who are in dire need of a pop filter.

The dialogue boxes are riddled with grammatical errors and greengrocer’s apostrophes, something I might ignore once or twice in a professional product, but Quest for Infamy looks as though its text never even went through spell-check, let alone being proofread.

The script itself is largely a case of writers with no real feel for comedy trying ever so desperately to be funny anyway. At first, as I cringed my way through the “hilarious” dialogue, I actually felt embarrassed for whoever had written it. Though, after a while, that all subsided and I was left feeling increasingly irritable and mutinous toward the game any time someone opened their stupid fucking mouth.

Here and there, are moments that might have actually been amusing in better hands, but are let down by poor delivery from a terrible cast. But even then, I allowed myself to hope that maybe, just maybe, things would improve. But, no, of course not. This game remains resolutely terrible.

As you can see, I enjoyed myself.
As you can see, I enjoyed myself.

Most of the time, the script opts for the easy options, which usually means fart jokes and pop culture references. Even that would be okay if it were done with any kind of talent whatsoever. Instead, I get the ever present “sassy” narrator intoning things like “smooth move, ex-lax.” What the fucking fuck? SMOOTH MOVE, EX-LAX? Is this fourth fucking grade?

Speaking of the narrator, he’s another thing that doesn’t work at all. That asshole just never shuts up. Every time you do anything, he’ll have something to say about it, nearly tripping over himself in a mad rush to cram yet another awful joke into this horrible waste of a game. In fact, I think some of the most fun that I had with Quest for Infamy came from rebelling against the narrator out of pure spite and malice.

Yeah, all this blather and I haven’t even gotten to the actual game part of things, have I?

Well, it’s a point-and-click. You point and click things. Much like Quest for Glory, this isn’t a straight-up adventure; the game boasts a number of RPG elements as well.

You are given the choice between a fighter – here called brigand, because fighter is too goody-goody -, a mage, and a thief. Infamy departs from its inspiration in that you play through the entire prologue without choosing a class, feeling out the options before committing to one. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to the main plot, though some puzzles will have different solutions depending on your class, and you will also have access to different class-based sidequests.

Your various stats and skills will level up the more you use them, both in and out of combat. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from abusing this. Can’t climb a wall? Your skill still goes up from the attempt, so just keep clicking until you get your way.

It’s nothing special, but it’s fine enough. Really, though, the gameplay in a point-and-click game isn’t really the star of the show; it’s simply a platform for the storytelling and the puzzles.

The puzzles themselves aren’t much to speak of. For the most part, they’re not so much puzzles as they are just you wandering around talking to everyone until something happens or they tell you what to do next. On a few occasions, there are honest to goodness puzzles, and wandering the countryside to solve them usually takes you away from having to talk to anyone, and so they are a blessed relief.

Much to my everlasting shock, there are a few ways in which Infamy actually improves over the games it’s aping. Every so often the game will autosave all on its own, something Quest for Glory would never even have considered. It doesn’t do it often enough to rely on it solely, but it did indeed rescue me from a few mistakes with minimal annoyance.

You can buy a map which will allow you to fast travel to various locations throughout the valley, a very welcome addition indeed, if you have the cash. Although, north and south on the map does not always correspond to up and down on a given screen, which throws me off. I’ll not hold that against the game though; I’ve always been shit at orienteering. Oh, and the fast travel feature is locked during the final act, because fuck you, I guess.

The combat is also quite an improvement over Quest for Glory‘s admittedly clunky interface. It’s still nothing to write home about, but Infamy‘s combat interface is a darn sight smoother and more user friendly. A neat row of icons along the bottom of the screen denoting different types of attack, defense, magic, and healing potions. Simple and clean.

...is the way that you're making me feel tonight...
…is the way that you’re making me feel tonight…

The biggest black mark against Quest for Infamy is that I just straight-up couldn’t finish the game. Under normal circumstances, I would never have posted a review for a game I hadn’t finished because it’s simply not fair, but I began this infamous quest well over a month ago, and a good deal of that time has been taken up trying to wrestle my way through the final act.

It’s not that I’m having trouble with the combat, or that I’m stuck on a puzzle. No, it just seems like the further I got into the game the more glitches tended to pile up on each other. On one occasion, I had collected a couple of items before a puzzle called for them, and upon initiating dialogue with the NPC who would have asked for them, the game shat the bed completely.

Instead of skipping the request and moving on to the next step, I was greeted with a blank dialogue box, the game locked up, and I was forced to close the application entirely and reload. And it wasn’t just a one-off frickety-fuck, either – it happened each and every time I tried to talk to the NPC in question.

Fuck.
Fuck.

Of course, at the time I had no idea why this was happening, and after a lengthy Google-hunt I managed to find a way around it, by dragging the items over the NPC before saying hello. Still, in a game where items can be picked up at just about any time, you’d think they might have programmed the game to do something other than break completely when presented with this scenario.

But the final death knell came at the very end of Act III. The antagonist and his crazy cult minions has taken the governors of the city of Tyr hostage and is about to have himself crowned Grand Poohbah or whatever.

Huh.
Huh.

Your goal is to enter the city and stop him. Outside the city gates, your allies are keeping his forces occupied, except for two final goons. Only, you can’t fight them. And if you try to just go past them into the city, they will kill you instantly.

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Okay, fine.

Turns out, you’re supposed to swing by the apothecary and have the owner make you a stink bomb to knock them out. And in order to do that, he needs to you go collect some pond scum from a stangnant fountain you’d been to many times before.

Okay, fine.

Only you can’t pick up the pond scum. At first I thought I needed an empty container, so I got one, came back. No dice. I clicked all over every last pixel of the fountain like a lunatic on the off chance enough clicks would magically improve my situation. But no. You just can’t fucking scoop up some pond scum.

Quest for Infamy 7
JUST PICK IT UP

I went back on the Googles and according to a thread on the game’s official forums, it’s just a bug, so you’re fucked.

Really?
Really?

Luckily, if you’re a sorcerer (which I just happened to be) the owner of the magic shop can simply teleport you atop the city walls. Maybe, just maybe, my hopes weren’t dashed just yet. I arrived on the walls, rushed over to the door leading down into the city, and….it’s locked. The door is fucking locked. It can’t be picked and it can’t be pried open with the crowbar. It’s just fucking locked. And the two other options are closed to me unless I play through the entire game all over again as a different class. No. No.

So fuck you then, game. I’m done. You win. I have fucking had it with you.

Clearly, the dev team has a lot of love and fond nostalgia for the Quest for Glory series, but due to their ineptitude, it comes off feeling like the equivalent of Lennie Small petting the rabbit to death. I can’t in good conscience recommend Quest for Infamy to anyone. Despite a few redeeming qualities here and there, the game is otherwise a complete trainwreck and more of an insult than a tribute. Your time and money would be better spent by surfing your little web on over to GOG and purchasing Sierra’s original classics.

Rating Banner 1-5