Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: February 23, 2002
Years ago, we thought ships would fall off the end of the world if they sailed too far. For the people of Chandar, such a situation is a fact of life rather than a hazy superstition. Immediately, your mind leaps about wondering how this land ended up a shattered hunk of rock floating in space, and what sort of amazing physics allows such a place to even exist. If you’ve found your imagination quickening in the same way, then you’ll immediately find yourself drawn to The Legend of Alon D’ar. This latest Ubi Soft release, developed by Stormfront, will cast you in the role of the unwitting savior of this tortured, yet still beautiful, land.
Without ruining too much of the plot, Chandar is a land with some serious history. As can be gleaned from the opening there was an ancient magical war that sundered the land into a sole floating continent. Known as the Wyrd, the magic that binds the land together is a tangible force that may be called upon by those skilled in its usage. In the ancient days, a group of wizards known as the Geomancers destroyed the land, and it rapidly becomes apparent that the last of their kind has returned to finish what his kind started.
All of this, however, remains cloaked to the people of Chandar, who nonetheless sense a growing darkness in their world. As enemies who were once pushed back into the deep forests, marshes and so forth begin to encroach closer, ancient alliances and awkward stalemates alike become more strained and evil portents appear to each race. Of the races of Chandar, the Orin and Kemarrans are the most human. Truthfully, the only real differences between the two are their locations, with the Orin inhabiting the lowlands and the Kemmarans living in a mountainous area, and their gender roles, since the females are the Kemmaran warriors and leaders. Humanoid, but distinctly different, are the amphibious Dagani who inhabit the swamps and have tendrils extending from their heads that allow them to breathe underwater and filter poisons from their homelands. Also sharing the world are the Sarojin, lizard men mages who live mystical lives and maintain a network of teleportation devices across the world’s surface.
Your role in this epic quest is to guide a young Orin warrior named Jarik who begins his adventure as a wet-behind-the-ears commoner with aspirations of serving his lord, Grandar. As a pair of Kemarrans arrive in Hollow Grange, Jarik’s hometown, he takes advantage of Grandar’s presence at the greeting party to declare his worthiness. Scoffed at and burning with anger, Jarik leaves for the edge of town where he narrowly avoids an attack by Dagani warriors. As he runs back to town, the young man accosts a fleeing Dagani and discovers it is actually a feral monster disguised as one of the swamp dwellers. Despite Jarik’s best arguments, Grandar will not be dissuaded and leaves immediately to launch a counter attack. Charged by the village wise-woman with the task of warning the Dagani, Jarik also leaves his home.
Along the way, a number of side quests will keep you distracted from the main goal and provide you with some experience and equipment benefits. Most of these side quests will involve you collecting numbers of the same item, such as pieces of amber to make a magical necklace, or tree frogs to provide to a trader with valuable wares for a distant market.
As you adventure through Chandar, Jarik will begin his quest alone and relatively untrained. After a quick tutorial, though, you’ll be ready to face the beasts that have begun to take over the landscape with a deadly combination of might and magic. One of the key components of The Legend of Alon D’ar can be found in the character screens, which are both extensive and intensive. Not only are there significant amounts of character information to be had here, but the skill tree takes up an entire section all to itself. Divided into two skill branches — combat and magic — you can specialize in any number of proficiencies, and then further hone your abilities in those weapons or spell classes.