Sunday, 19 October 2014

Secret of the Silver Blades - PC (MS-DOS) (1990) & Commodore Amiga (1991)

First things first - Secret of the Silver Blades is not one of my Favourite Video Games of All Time.  It’s by no means a bad game, but the only reason I played it through, apart from completeness, was to prepare my party for Pools of Darkness. 

Secret of the Silver Blades is the penultimate title in the Pool of Radiance quartet of games.  Set in the Forgotten Realms AD&D universe, it follows on from the events in Curse of the Azure Bonds.  From what I read the game is much more linear and has more of an emphasis on combat than the previous games.  There is also no overworld map - travel between areas is by way teleportation gateways.  By all accounts it seems to be one of the weaker Gold Box titles.  My experience bared this out which is why it doesn’t deserve a ‘proper’ entry on my blog.

Secret of the Silver Blades continues to use the venerable Gold Box engine as before but eschews the 16 by 16 level layout for much of the game.  Instead it contains several sprawling levels filled with random encounters.  The maze-like area of the map below is supposed to represent a ruined town but is made up of corridors, rooms and doors and took several hours to create. Apart from one place you are directed to, I only found two other caches of treasure.  As much as I like mapping and combat, this is too much and feels like padding – it was unrewarding and added nothing to the story.


A more minor issue is that I had to answer riddles at the end of several levels to continue.  This breaks the fourth wall as I had seven characters in my party, two with 18 intelligence.  Surely one of them would have been able to solve them?
There were a couple of riddles that weren't this simple to solve.
The game did have a wide variety of opponents and some nice fixed combats, but they were just too few and far between to make up for the innumerable random encounters.

As I said, Secret of the Silver Blades is far from being a bad game, but much of it felt like a slog which I only played to completion as a means to an end.  I’m hoping this is the weak link in the series and that Pools of Darkness won’t be as disappointing when I get to it in 1991.

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