Five Magical Amulets
...a review by inferno
A new offering by Olga Fabry of Off studio adventure team, a Czechoslovakian Independent Game Developer, was released onto the Adventure Game Arena a little over two weeks ago. The title? Five Magical amulets, a 2D Point-and-Click Amateur Adventure Game which boasts over 6600 lines of text, more than 70 original hand drawn and hand painted backgrounds, at least 50 characters with whom the gamer will interact, dozens upon dozens of inventory items and a lyrical and sensitive musical score truly appropriate to the mood of the piece. From what I can gather, this game has been three years in the making from conception to its free release. Yes, did you just read that? Uh huh, you did. This marvelous fairytale fantasy is noted as Freeware.
It was easy for me to tell once the adventure began that Five Magical amulets was indeed a labor of love. When I was first asked to review the game, I had a few trepidations. The most obvious was its size. 149 Mbs now, I know that there are many of you out there who are lucky enough to have either Broadband or DSL” or “what-not” … goodie-goodie for you… but there are still many prospective adventurers who are not so lucky, either because of pocketbook or because of location. A 56kpb dialup can take a minimum of eight hours, so for those intrepid souls who are just determined to try this game, I suggest trying to download overnight using a program such as “Get Right”, “Gozilla” or “Flash Get” so that if your connection fails the download can be re-established. If that‘s not a possibility, contact a friend who can burn it onto a CDR for you. (Keep in mind that since it is “Freeware” this is perfectly legal to do.) It may just surprise you that Five Magical Amulets was worth the effort. Actually, my secret hope is, as this adventure gains some momentum in the gaming community, the Developers may see their way clear to offer this venue for those with dial-up at a nominal service fee. (Maybe the cost of a CDR plus shipping and handling?) Well, one can dream can’t one? How intriguing it is that amateur freeware games are becoming so large.
Now, I’m using the word “amateur” instead of “independent” not to mean any slight to Olga Fabry’s efforts here. I’m merely using the term as she herself has used it on her own site. And I believe her efforts to be sincerely accurate as far as the “true” definition of what the word “amateur” means: A person or group of persons who perform an action or service for the “love” of that action or service without thought of monetary gain. And complete that task as well as someone who is monetarily compensated for that same action or service. I believe Off studios adventure team has accomplished this.
So, what is the game’s story about? Do you remember the original “King’s Quest "Series? Or “Legend of Kyrandia”? It’s similar in general …yet still holds its own uniqueness. This is a fable. ... a fairytale. Is it original? Probably not… but who cares? This is a story about good versus evil, where good will triumph after all. It is a story of how even a plain simple country girl can become the most powerful entity in her entire land. The storyline was very entertaining and the plot exposition was nicely implemented. The tale is a very basic one; one that has been around since fairytales were created (and I promise you, that is a very long time) and one that will recreate itself over and over until the end of time itself.
We begin this tale in an imaginary land known as Nyron, deep in the quiet and fragrant forests governed by the enchantress Twelga, keeper of the Green Amulet: The Amulet of Earth. Twelga uses this amulet to assist her in keeping the forests of Nyron in balance and all of her charges -- from the smallest bumblebee to the largest brown bear -- in harmony and good health. There are five Amulets, which holds the threads of existence together for this ancient and magical land: The Blue Amulet of Water; The White Amulet of Wind, The Yellow Amulet of Time and The Red Amulet of Fire. It is Zarkyran, the wizard of Bwurk and the keeper of the Red Amulet who worries Twelga. Zarkyran has become blinded with its power and has begun to take over Nyron by kidnapping the King who is the keeper of the White Amulet of Wind.
Twelga senses that something is no longer right within the kingdom which she helps guard, and though she has spoken with the other wizards in the realm, she knows that disaster will be inevitable if she does not take further action. She summons Linda, her “adopted” human daughter, on the day of the young girl’s 18th birthday. Twelga tells Linda of how she came to be her mother and why she never taught her the ways of magic. Only someone who is pure of heart can help her now. Linda is Nyron’s only hope. The enchantress unfolds the legend of the Five Magical Amulets and how they must be gathered together to form the Stone of Power, thus wiping away forever the threat of catastrophe for the Kingdom of Nyron and all of its subjects -- human or otherwise. Twelga tells her beloved stepdaughter that she must take the Green Amulet of Earth and travel to the distant town of Gadmore, find Twelga’s son, The Wizard “Tveiram” and give him the Green Amulet.
Linda (naturally being a pure soul in both mind and spirit) accepts Twelga’s proposal. But!!! As with all fairytales -- as soon as Twelga gives the amulet to her stepdaughter… she vanishes into thin air! Now, it is up to Linda to figure out what she needs to do to accomplish this most important task for her adoptive mother, for her people and for her country. And thus the quest begins for the gamer under the guise of Linda.
Technical Stuff and Nonsense
I’m going to tell you right now, that there are a few reviews out there already about Five Magical amulets. And I encourage you to read them all, for it is the informed gamer who usually is the one that is the happiest. However, it isn’t my intention to pick this offering apart.
Technically for the gamer, you just download and click on the executable file. Once the game is installed, take the time to have a look at the “Readme” file. This one is designed to encourage the gamer to actually read it. Even the “Setup” screens all have that special look that says to the gamer, “I plan to entertain you with a Fable”. When one begins the adventure, the enchanting music begins (and trust me… no matter WHAT other review you might have read, it is far from either elevator or “Dental Muzac”.) The musical score is original to Five Magical amulets and was created by “Jerrot”, the end title song was performed in Hebrew and is entitled Waking to a Dream, a beautiful musical piece; poignantly sung by Meirav Vyhnak. If any of you recall the early “Hallmark Hall of Fame Presents” television series from the 1960’s, or Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, or Jerome Robbins’s Peter Pan with Mary Martin … this is what the music of Five Magical amulets is like. It is light, lyrical, at times “playful” but most of all it is fantasy driven … and thankfully, there aren’t any modern rock or heavy metal influences in this piece. The music sweetly enwraps the gamer into the world of the fairytale for its own sake without overpowering it. It worked very well for me, for it pointedly added that certain theatrical essence, which is vital to the ambiance of the fairytale.
The graphics are interesting. All of them are hand drawn and hand painted in a decidedly stylized manner. Are they realistic? Of course not, they weren’t meant to be. We are talking here about fairies that make apple rolls, talking polar bears with particular tastes in cuisine and magpies that seek revenge! The palette is vibrant, lively and consistent in its appearance. This artwork so reminded me of rainy Saturdays spent in my local library curled up in the “reading” corner with large picture books of every kind of fairytale imaginable. Most of whose artwork is highly impressionistic.
The game play was appropriate to the piece. There was a flow to the way the story unfolded. The trick though was to figure this out in the beginning. It was important to READ the first two book graphics carefully and “Visually Listen” to the opening conversation between Twelga and Linda. Haahaa, did you read that? “Visually Listen”! I forgot that there were no real audible voices in the game except for those in my head as Olga’s game spun its fairy magic. Is my point made yet?
The point here being, did the plot move me? Did the music encompass me? Did the visuals harken me back to another time, where I was able to forget my own worries of the day even if just for a little while? Did I care about the characters? Was a story told? Did I have a good time playing it and was I entertained? The answer to all of this is YES.
So, what? Does this mean that Five Magical amulets is perfection, bar none?
No, of course not. There were moments in the game where the pace was terribly slow. I sometimes wished that there were some sort of "key combination" to make Linda move faster. I would have liked to see more standalone puzzles and a more cohesive stream of consciousness in the character of Linda as she progresses through the story. On the “technical writing end”, better proofreading for the English version (...can’t speak at all for the Czech version as I don’t understand a word.) And probably better dialogue writing, as some of the translations to English were too grating and too harsh for the characters to say, especially in the fourth chapter. But as you can see these observations are just “nitpicky” and pull nothing away from the enjoyment of the story.
I’m merely saying that for what it was: a timeless story about a simple young woman, a magical land and a quest to save the world I was surprisingly and thoroughly entertained. If the old King’s Quest games and Fairytale Adventures in general are your thing -- if your mouth waters every time the movie, “The Princess Bride” is on the Late, Late Show, then you’ll be pleased with Five Magical amulets.
No, I take that back…
…You just may be as enchanted as I was.
Olga, I wish to say that it is people such as yourself and the rest of your team, which keep the true spirit of the “adventure gaming” alive. This was a massive undertaking for a freeware game and you are to be commended for your time, your energy and the sheer delight that you will undoubtedly bestow on all who enjoy your game.
Genre: Fairytale Adventure
Type: Freeware - 149Mb
DirectX 8.0 or higher
170 MB of free disk space
64 MB of RAM.
3D accelerated video card
is highly recommended.
XP Home Edition 2002 w/SP 1
Pentium 4 CPU 2.00GHz
512MB DDR Memory
64MBNVIDIA GeForce 2 MX/MX 400 AGP
Creative SB Live
DirectX Version: 9.0b
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