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Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown is a party-based dungeon-crawling RPG in the vein of Might and Magic III-V. Developed by Silver Lemur Games, it was originally released back in 2019.
But now, with the game's sequel - The Song of Trees - slated for a 2023 release, we figured it was time for us to check it out and see what it had to offer and whether we should be looking forward to that sequel.
An Intro to Amberland
Before we begin, you might want to know that Silver Lemur Games is essentially a one-man studio - Legends of Amberland was designed and programmed by a single developer who then outsourced the game's audio and visuals.
Which makes the whole project quite darn impressive considering how closely it manages to follow in the footsteps of its venerable predecessors. And sure, certain aspects of Legends of Amberland may fall short when compared to those classic Might and Magic titles, but to counterbalance this, the game does offer some interesting fresh ideas and improvements to the formula.
On the most basic level, Legends of Amberland is a first-person dungeon crawler of the blobber variety - you control a party of seven adventurers on a grand quest in a vibrantly pixelated fantasy land.
The general premise of the game is that your kingdom is being besieged by ogres, but the king just doesn't seem to have enough knights to fend off this invasion. And in the meantime, the royal wizard discovers a nefarious spell of forgetfulness that's affecting the land and hires you to discover its origins.
You will then need to explore the kingdom and its immediate surroundings, jump through plenty of hoops to get access to an ancient library, put a stop to the machinations of evil wizards, and reunite the king with his magic crown that allows him to muster a large-enough force to repel the invasion.
Even for a dungeon crawler, the game's setting and story are very basic, but charming in their earnest simplicity. You have your wizards and their towers, dwarves that invariably mine a tad too deeply, marauding greenskins causing all sorts of troubles, and princesses with the worst luck when it comes to getting married.
Pint-sized Dungeons, Full-sized Dragons
In gameplay terms, the above is represented by an expansive world map you navigate one tile at a time. This map is infested with all sorts of monsters, but those tend to be mostly harmless compared to the dangers lurking in the many dungeons scattered across the land.
Apart from dungeons, you can stumble onto friendly towns (represented by a menu screen as opposed to Might and Magic's physical spaces), castles, and various dwellings housing quest-givers, attribute-boosting masters, and just assorted NPCs. And so, in order to eventually complete your grand quest, you'll be signing up for a heap of optional ones and then delving into various inhospitable places to earn some sweet levels and even sweeter loot.
Some of the game's side quests are really simplistic and exist mostly to point you to their adjacent dungeons, while others are more involved and send you all over the map in search of rare ingredients or hard-to-find items.
One of the best examples is a miner who wants a special dwarven pickaxe to dislodge a rare gem from a nearby mine. So, you go searching for the dwarves. But when you find them, turns out their anvil got stolen, and when you retrieve that, you're then tasked with finding a bunch of ore that's hidden all over the map so that they can forge you that pickaxe.
And seeing how after the first few areas, the game opens up and allows you to go pretty much wherever, with little to no hand holding, stuff like that adds a nice element of exploration into the mix.
What's also great is that the game doesn't seem to have any sort of level scaling, so you never know which areas are level-appropriate and where you should be going. You just go, see where you can find enemies you can defeat, flee from those you can't, and occasionally stumble onto some enclave of weaker foes you've managed to miss and go on a bit of a power trip.