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The gate swung open.
Revolted by the thick scent of excrement in the chamber, Locklear hastened to the ladder affixed on the far wall and ascended its filth-slick rungs. Behind him, Gorath and Owyn reluctantly did likewise, gaffing on the noxious vapors in the shaft. “This is nothing,” Locklear grunted, shoving upwards against a grating. “All the windows in the palace are open right now. You ought to smell it in the winter.”
Darkness surrounded them as they slithered out of the privy, their only impressions of the chamber provided by the faint flicker of distant firelight. Ten yards before them the hall joined with an elaborate colonnade stretching in either direction. “Somehow I hadn’t pictured my first visit to Krondor like this,” Owyn sighed, falling blindly into step behind Gorath and the Seigneur.
Betrayal at Krondor surprised me. I expected an RPG typical of the era (it was developed in 1993 by Dynamix), complete with clunky combat and minimal story. I knew it was based on the Riftwar series of novels by Raymond E. Feist, but I expected that to be little more than a marketing tie-in. Instead, it’s an early crossbreed between games and literature.
His curiosity sufficiently piqued, Owyn popped open the half-gallon cask and inhaled deeply. Immediately his senses reeled as the heady cinnamon-like aroma assaulted him. Keshian Ale!
Krondor inundates the player with text at every opportunity (the quotes in this article come straight from the game). Whenever possible, it serves up paragraphs of it, stewed in its own fantasy world. The developers knew that they could only say so much at a time, so every sentence is full of seasoning and flavor. Nothing is wasted.
Voice acting is nice, but it reduces scenes to simple dialogue. As anyone who’s experienced Planescape: Torment can attest, the power of text is its ability to deliver so much more than speech. Every item has a paragraph detailing not just the object, but also the characters themselves, picking them up, turning them over, and telling stories about them. Everything is given far more nuance than even an advanced 3D engine ever could.
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