The Legend of Kyrandia: The Hand of Fate

1993 Westwood Studios
Designed by Rick Gush
Reviewed 1997 January 26

Rating -1 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty challenging Relevance moderate
Interface 3rd paned simple Real-time minor

Kyrandia is disappearing, rock by rock, tree by tree. You are the alchemist Zanthia, and the Mystics Council has chosen you to go to the centre of the planet to get an anchor stone, the required magic ingredient. First you must make your way to Volcania, an island that contains the passage to the centre. Once you've got the anchor stone, you must save the world.

The Hand of Fate is a standard third person perspective, drawn cartoon style adventure. It is a pretty game, with nice artwork and pleasant music. The voice acting was generally poor, very hammy, although Zanthia herself was okay. The interface has a simple one-click-for-everything style. I found myself wishing for a slightly larger inventory a few times, but it is not burdensome.

Your journey through Kyrandia is substantial and eventful, but it is bland. Kyrandia is pretty, and you meet some interesting and humourous characters, but the cloyingly cute dialogue and voice acting ruin the mood. Zanthia herself is a fine character: a contemporary, self-assured, Californian yuppie dropped into a traditional high-fantasy setting (in personality, not in the story). Some amusing characters you'll meet include a hustler octopus, a romantic yeti, and some high-brow pirates.

The challenges work within the story. Many revolve around collecting ingredients for potions, and then using the potion correctly. They are mostly inventory based, lacking in originality. There are a few puzzles that stand out as irrelevant, including a Towers of Hanoi and an out-of-place door lock. There is a brief, casual real-time combat to end the game: three or four clicks with a few seconds to decide on each.

While most are fairly easy, there are several more difficult challenges. There are also several questionable challenges, at least one being outright silly. The linear nature of the game guides you through these, giving you few alternatives to consider at each challenge so you'll soon guess the solution. Unfortunately, there seems to be a dead-end: deliver your mail promptly. There may be others, too, if you don't aide your not-so-secret admirer. At least there are no mazes or slider puzzles.

Excepting the voices and dialogue, The Hand of Fate is a very well made game. It's primary failing is a lack of creativity, in both story and challenges. Less jaded adventurers (e.g., children) might enjoy the story. Novice adventurers should find the puzzles a nice mix between encouraging and challenging.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

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    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.