Quest for Infamy is a labor of love, and its many shortcomings could be forgiven had only the price tag been considerably lower. As it is, the inescapable comparison to Heroine’s Quest leaves it severely wanting.
Roehm is a rather ill-defined protagonist. He’s supposed to be some sort of rogueish anti-hero, but the game doesn’t present him in such a way, or makes you play him that way - instead he’s just a straight up hero that keeps saying “oh wow, I’m so villainous”. The acts for which you gain “infamy” are for most part just simple hero stuff, rescuing the poor and protecting the innocent.
That being said, he’s still the most defined character in a world of cardboard. The game is chock-full of characters, but they’re all incredibly thin, serving their role in the plot before moving on. It’s impossible to care or be interested in any of them, in part because of the strange dialogue system.
Unlike games from the era it mimics, dialogue trees are reset every time you leave a conversation. This is both tedious, and immersion-breaking. In some cases, you find yourself introducing to people over and over and over again. In others, you feel like their response to a query should’ve changed, but annoyingly, it hasn’t.
This is a deliberate choice rather than some engine limitation, since other characters do preserve the state of the dialogue tree. It’s also a poor choice that goes a long way towards alienating you to Roehm and the supporting cast.
Gameplay is severely lacking. Puzzles are okay, but are sometimes implemented poorly. For instance, I was stuck on the rune puzzle for a while, before realizing the game just hadn’t registered the position of the rune - you have to wait for it to sort of snap into place, which calls into question giving you the option to freely rearranging runes to begin with. Similar design issues plague other sequences. There are cases where you inexplicably can’t use equivalent objects (in one memorable occasion, the game actually mocked me for trying), sometimes the game is incredibly obtuse (I had to click furiously all over the screen before it recognized the damned fireflies hotspot). It’s all very, very annoying.
The game is also riddled with bugs. Without really trying, I was able to make the controls disappear several times, get Roehm stuck in an infinite loop, get into a location I wasn’t supposed to be able to. I also got stuck in several screens, forcing me to switch to direct control to leave, which complemented nicely the screens where I was stuck using direct control, requiring me to use point and click to exit them.
Besides bugs, the game is just designed poorly. One example is the quick travel map, which has no locations added to it, ever, isn’t in any logical scale, and contains locations you haven’t visited yet. You can’t advance the clock at will, but as a corollary time never passes unless you wish it to, and you can always heal to the max at the cost of one third of the day cycle. The inn cost 50 coins a week, and then never requested another payment as my quest took considerably longer. There are many, many such instances, that make you appreciate just how many small details go into good game design.
To summarize, at a considerably lower price, this game may have met people’s expectations. As it is, they compete in the top tier of indie titles, and come nowhere near them in the level of finish.
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Time Played: 2-5 hours