Drakkhen Retrospective

Richard Cobbett has published a retrospective for Infogrames' 1989 RPG Drakkhen on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The article offers a very colorful description of Cobbett's experience with the title and the circumstances that led him to play it, and puts the accent on its brutal difficulty:

Actually go wandering off into the wilds and you. there's no other way to put it. You die. You die horribly. There's no real tactics behind the combat either, just flicking it on and realising that you've accidentally gone questing with the Quiche Awareness Board's LARP group. They're just pathetic at the start of the game, outmatched by just about everyone, and that includes bodies of water. Accidentally dip a toe in a puddle and look at this field of view, it's hard not to and your guys start drowning until you pull them back to land. Morons! Total morons! Begone!

Step out of the part of the map you're supposed to be in, and Drakkhen really stops messing around. Particularly dramatic are these crossroad markers thrown in to punish childish notions like '˜running down the road'. Bump into them, and Cerberus here pops up to explain the error of your ways. Even later on in the game, these things are crushingly powerful. At least they're also easily avoided.

Inside the castles things become a bit more adventure style, with some actually quite nice backgrounds and a fair few puzzles flicking switches to close off magic fields, enemies bursting in if you trespass in the wrong areas, and if you're lucky, meetings with the Drakkhen Princes, all of them with names that sound like Klingons desperate for throat-sweets. Hazhulkha. Haaggkha. Hordkhen. Nakkhtkha. You spend much of the game just delivering messages to each of them, which inevitably means fighting through their home security systems, before discovering that your real goal is to collect the magic tears in their foreheads to bring magic back to your own world.

Now, personally, I query their honesty here. The entire plot in the PC version is kicked off with the death of the last dragon, who in fairness to him, was actually quite a gentleman in the novella. A bit like Dragon Heart, I remember, only genuinely surprised that his vanquisher decided to finish the job instead of just taking the treasure. There's no real explanation though for how this whole other island full of the buggers came to be, but you'd better believe that the finale involves them both saving the world and adding rather pointedly (Now quit killing dragons, you assholes. Seriously!)