12: Death Gate

Publisher: Legend
Developer: Legend
Year: 1994
Platform: DOS

Review: The first Legend game to eschew typing and implement strictly the point’n’click interface, Death Gate succeeds admirably in creating a captivating and moderately difficult fantasy adventure that almost anyone can enjoy. Based on the Death Gate Cycle short stories by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the game designers managed to take many elements from those stories and use them to create a foundation for their adventuregf Never does the game feel like a translation, and you certainly do not need to read the stories to enjoy the game. Following is the summary from Moby Games:

Two thousand years ago, the Sartan split the world into five realms. The mensch races – the humans, dwarves, and elves – were split between four of those worlds named for the four elements, and your race, the Patryn, was banished to the deadly Labrynth. After those two thousand years, some of the Patryn have found their way through the Labrynth’s exit. It is your job to sail through the Death Gate into each of the other worlds to find each world’s seal piece, so that your race may reconstruct the planet and have revenge on the Sartan.

The story is one of revenge and reunification and there are many plot twists (though mostly obvious) along the way. Magic is used extensively and often in very clever fashions never seen before in adventure gaming. Most puzzles range from easy to fairly challenging, though none are unfair and are usually interesting in their own right, and fit within the context. Rarely do puzzles feel contrived or pointless. While no puzzles have multiple solutions, you are often given appropriate feedback as to why your solution is not the correct one, with a pat on the back from the designers for your thoughtful try. I never felt insulted by the game’s interface, which is very easy to use but often requires critical thinking. One puzzle near the end of the game that involves conquering your own double had me absolutely giddy when I solved it, and is one of my favorites of all-time.

The graphics are mostly well-drawn still frames, though there are some decent movies. The voice acting is superb; however, the dialogue gets stale in many places and sometimes goes on forever. Despite the simple writing, the story behind it is consistently engaging, more than making up for its faults. The ending is a little weak, but on the spectrum of adventure game endings, is not all that bad.

You do not need to be a fan of fantasy novels to enjoy Death Gate, and any adventure game connoisseur should have this one in their library.

You get to play as a dog, too!

Contemporary RatingHigh. The game tries really hard to be accommodating to all players.  It was obviously beta-tested really well.

Cruelty RatingPolite.

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2 thoughts on “12: Death Gate

  1. Why is it that Adventure games have some of the ugliest user interfaces in gaming? Even professionally-built games have interfaces that look like they belong on a 1990s Geocities web site!

    • every time you’ve commented on how ugly a game looks, it has been a game by Legend. I see the comparison to GeoCities, what with the frames and being a little too busy. But the game is very intuitive so it shouldn’t inhibit you from playing.

      It kind of resembles the interface of Shadowgate, which was also too busy (but 8 years older!).

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