Thalion Software, 1992
Amiga, Atari ST 和 MS-DOS
Thalion Software, 1992
Amiga, Atari ST and MS-DOS
First in a planned “Amber trilogy” of games set in the fantasy world of Lyramion, Amberstar starts out with the protagonist alone before the grave of his parents, trying to decide what to do next.
Soon the story leads into the city sewers for the usual rat-slaying to save a cat but, tellingly, even this is a special event with a twist, leading to a unique reward. Amberstar might seem conventional on the surface, but it manages tropes with its own flair.
Right from the moment you exit the starting city, you can go (almost) everywhere, easily getting lost in swamps and forests, unless knowing where to go. On your way, you'll recruit others into your party to search for missing pieces of the titular Amberstar.
With an evocative soundtrack, a clever dialogue system based on keywords and quirky characters to meet, recruit or help out, Amberstar oozes charm. As you explore the land, your sense of accomplishment grows each time you find a way to reach to new places (riding horses, rafts, boats or even your own giant eagle), figure out a clue or win a difficult battle.
Combat is turn-based on a grid, with orders being given for all characters and then acted out all at once. It's an intuitive, albeit simple system, where your level and gear have a huge impact. Who you recruit for your party also makes for quite different strategies.
Amberstar doesn't hold your hand and features both subtle hints and infuriatingly hard riddles. There is no quest log – you are supposed to pay attention yourself (it's advised to write everything down) and act upon hints found in dialogue, deciphered runes and journals, searching for the mentioned places and solving elaborate enigmas to open up new areas.
At its core, Amberstar is all about exploration, wondering what lies over the next mountain range or behind the door inside the old ruin – though there are no branching stories, side-quests, random encounters or hundreds of items to collect, the world is sprawling and contains many cities and dungeons waiting to be found, all fitting into the main story.
While the sequel Ambermoon is even better, and while many might not have the focus and patience needed to enjoy this game in the modern age, for me it's a gem as enjoyable now as then – a game with unique wit and charm.