Solid slice of fantasy adventuring
Westwood is a studio best known for its huge Command and Conquer franchise and while the Lands of Lore series never met with the same kind of success (with only three of the eight planned games released), they remain an excellent set of dungeon crawlers. This is the first instalment and introduces players to a fantasy universe which bears certain similarities to Westwood's own Legend of Kyrandia series and which revolves around the evil machinations of the witch Scotia who has poisoned the king in her efforts to seize power over the land. This being a fantasy RPG, a hero must step forward to embark on an epic quest to find the antidote to the poison and which involves much questing, battling strange beasts using magic and steel and of course exploring dungeons. The game plays out in similar fashion to other RPGs like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder, with four playable pre-made characters each with their own unique abilities, and with exploration carried out in pseudo 3D fashion, while dungeons include a healthy mix of real-time combat and puzzle solving. In many ways, Throne of Chaos is a highly familiar slice of fantasy RPG which doesn't seem to add much to the genre. The lack of customisation and stats may put off hardened RPG fans but do to so would be to miss out on a fine game. It is easy to pick up, which makes it highly accessible to newcomers, but still offers plenty of challenge. The storyline is not staggeringly original but it is quite compelling nonetheless, while combat is strategic and satisfying and the graphics do a good job of creating a strong atmosphere. Overall, this makes for a solid fantasy RPG, with the sequels Guardians of Destiny and Lands of Lore 3 also being well worth checking out.