Release Date :
December 7th, 1989
First-Person, Side-Scrolling, Third-Person
Originally released in 1989, Hillsfar was clearly something of an experiment for the teams at SSI and Westwood Studios.Â After devising a great tactical combat system that was well-received in the Wizard's Crown series and then further refined in Pool of Radiance (and Curse of the Azure Bonds, though it wasn't quite available when Hillsfar first hit store shelves), SSI eschewed the system for an AD&D game that featured almost no combat whatsoever.Â Granted, the company had went for a more arcade-like approach with Heroes of the Lance and a couple of other previously released titles, but Hillsfar really can't be directly compared to any other title in SSI's massive catalogue.
The first noticeable departure from what was considered normal for the time is that the player does not control a party of characters.Â Instead, you're allowed to create one 6th level character (or you can multi-class to a 4/5 split) using the classic 1st Edition AD&D ruleset. This character could be imported from SSI's most recent release, Pool of Radiance, as well as Curse of the Azure Bonds once compatibility for the game's character save format was added in a later v1.2 release.Â Once you've entered the world, your main objective is to simply travel to the city of Hillsfar and its surrounding area in search of fame, fortune, and adventure.
Because the game mixes together several different gameplay styles and viewpoints, most gamers will find that they either love it or hate it.Â As players seek to complete tasks given to them by their class-specific guild, they'll participate in several different mini-games that play out in a variety of different perspectives: horseback riding (platform), lockpicking (first-person), archery (first-person), thievery/dungeon exploration (top-down), tavern gambling and foolery (first-person/text), and arena matches (third-person).Â As such, the game cares more about a player's mastery of each of the mini-games than it does a character's level-based rise to power.