Kingdom: The Far Reaches

Kingdom: The Far Reaches
3
Platforms: PC, Mac, 3DO, CD-i
Publisher: Technology Integration Group
Developer: Virtual Image Productions
Genres: Adventure / Action Adventure
Release Date: 1995
Game Modes: Singleplayer

5One can’t help playing Kingdom: The Far Reaches and not be reminded of Dragon’s Lair, the Laserdisc coin-op game that was a hit in the 1980s. When Dragon’s Lair first came out, it had great presentation, but lackluster gameplay; it was like watching a cartoon, with reaction time as the only critical element. You’d walk into a room, a monster of some sort would appear, and you’d have mere milliseconds to react before something killed you – usually you’d die a few times before you figured out by process of elimination what you were supposed to do.

Still, the graphics — actual cartoons created by Disney veteran Don Bluth — were beautiful, the sound was amazing, and even though Dragon’s Lair wasn’t much of a game, it was a blast to watch. Kingdom: The Far Reaches can be described in almost exactly the same way.

Kingdom has a good musical score, above-average graphics, and excellent voice work. The problem lies in the gameplay itself, and in several nagging little details that make the game more irritating than fun. Like Dragon’s Lair, Kingdom’s fantasy world is limited to a very linear path where one wrong step ends in death. A prime example of this: As you walk along the path to a castle, a group of tiger statues spring to life and kill you. That’s it. No fight, no flight — just a quick, inexplicable death.

That’s not an isolated event, either; this sort of thing happens again and again in Kingdom. You have no warning that certain death awaits if you take a wrong turn. There’s no intelligence involved, no way to avoid death through cunning — only endless trial-and-error. Some other, minor things conspire to make the game more a chore than a pleasure. The voice-overs are generally of a higher quality than those in most games, but at times very important messages were unclear.

And character interaction is inconsistent at best. Some encounters reflected things that I had done elsewhere, and some of them didn’t. It seemed no matter how many times I walked into the wise woodsman’s clearing, he introduced himself and told me the same tale. In the end, this adventure just seemed flat and lifeless. If you never got enough of Dragon’s Lair, and if you don’t mind learning the hard way, you might like it.


System Requirements: 80486/33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, Win95

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