The Usurper: The Mines Of Qyntarr

Adventure 1989 Dos Sir-tech Software Multimedia novel Puzzle based

Fantasy adventuring fun

With a title like this, The Usurper could only really be one thing: a fantasy adventure of some sort. And yes, it doesn't try to buck tradition and turns out to be text adventure in the vein of Zork (but more serious) or The Hobbit (but without the graphics). Supposedly this was the third part of the planned six game series from the developers (who were also behind the classic Wizardry series) but none of the other games ever materialised, leaving this as the only example of what could have been. This is a bit of a shame as this one is actually a very decent little game, and whether you're a newcomer to the genre or an old hand, there's much to enjoy here. The plot relates how the player character is on holiday in the mountains when he encounters a dying old man who lays in his hands a magical orb and charges him with using it to destroy the evil Usurper who has the usual nasty plans for the realm. This involves venturing into the titular mines and freeing the slaves trapped within and an epic quest is thus set in motion, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. The Usurper really is quite the hidden gem of the interactive fiction genre. It offers a well written and highly engaging storyline that is populated with some memorable characters and being set in a world which is brought vividly to life through some evocative descriptions. The parser is solid and fairly intelligent, making navigating the world a breeze and minimising the frustrations often found in weaker systems. Throw in some highly challenging but immensely satisfying puzzles and you have all the makings of a fine bit of fantasy fun.

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