Westwood Studios is a developer largely known for creating the Command & Conquer series, but in the '90s the team turned its attention to a variety of different genres.
Some of the company's most successful forays outside of the real-time strategy genre were point and click adventures, and one of the more successful series Westwood created was the Legend of Kyrandia series.
The Legend of Kyrandia was based on an original setting called Fables & Fiends, partly inspired by a BBS-based multiplayer game of the same name. The series was known for its simple but flexible interface that had a strong focus on manipulating inventory items in various ways -- not only could you simply "use" items, but, unusually for the point and click adventure genre, you could could also drop and move them around. The second installment also involved mixing various ingredients together to make potions with magical effects to solve puzzles.
The series fell somewhat into obscurity following the third installment in 1994. This was partly due to the games' DOS-based nature and the fact that the growth of Windows 95 and subsequent operating systems made it increasingly hard to actually get them running. It was also around this point that Command & Conquer started to take off alongside Westwood's sprawling RPG series Lands of Lore, leaving them little time to explore the Fables & Fiends setting further.
With modern software such as DOSBox, you can get these games running on an up to date machine without too much difficulty -- but where to actually get them from? Well, you probably already know the answer to that: it's the retro specialists over at GOG.com.
GOG has been able to resurrect The Legend of Kyrandia thanks to its agreement with EA, who presently owns the rights to the series. There's currently no sign of the other two games The Hand of Fate and Malcolm's Revenge, but GOG promises that the release of the first Kyrandia game is just the "tip of the iceberg" and that more EA titles are scheduled for release in the coming weeks, strongly implying that we can probably expect to see both sequels at some point in the near future.
Is The Legend of Kyrandia worth checking out today? Absolutely, though be prepared for a challenge; these games are closer in execution to the brutality of early-'90s Sierra adventures than the gentle, "you can't lose" nature of LucasArts' rival offerings from the same period. Their gameplay, humor and puzzle design remain a lot of fun even today, however, and the Fables & Fiends setting is interesting and well-realized.
Kyrandia's out now on GOG for $5.99. Grab it here.
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