Much like its name implies, Quest for Infamy is, for better or for worse, a love letter and modern re-imagining of the classic Quest for Glory and King’s Quest games from the golden age of PC adventure gaming. I say for better or for worse, because it does a fantastic job of preserving the finest details of those classic games, including the more unsavory and archaic design choices that have since been improved by the games that succeeded them.
Set in a quasi-medieval fantasy world, Quest for Infamy is the story of Roehm, a puckish rogue who finds himself on the run from an angry Baron after being caught with the Baron’s daughter. During his retreat, Roehm ends up in Volksville, a pleasant little town at the edge of a deep forest. While staying in Volksville, Roehm meets all manner of people, visits other locations, carries out various quests, and unearths a grand conspiracy only he can resolve.
Roehm himself has a few of his own distinct personality traits; he’s a womanizer to a disturbing degree, has a sharp wit, and a strong Irish accent that complements him well. But, like all other characters in games that allow for dialogue options and choices to make, he’s wildly inconsistent. One moment, he’s running away from a Baron, while boldly making the decision to spare the life of the town bully the next. Furthermore, he is a character that lacks motivation, whose actions are largely in service of the game’s brash and anachronistic comedy. Throughout the story, Roehm is very much pulled around by circumstance, often reacting instead of enacting.
Thus, the story’s unfolding relies heavily on the player’s ability to explore and interact with everything around them, but this is quickly mitigated by poor communication skills between the game and the player. It’s rarely made clear where one can traverse through an environment, what needs to be done to complete many of the game’s quests, and even what Roehm needs to be doing at the moment. Even the game’s three classes – called “paths”- are never fully explained, which can lead to some frustration and the selection of unwanted classes.
Much of this plays into the aforementioned problem of re-imagining classic adventure games in a modern context. It’s built on assumed knowledge and the idea that players who start Quest for Infamy will already have a complete understanding of how the game works, how to interact with everything, and what to do. This is fine if it winds up in the hands of the people who do have a great deal of experience with the genre. However, in order to introduce new people to adventure gaming, there needs to be enough communication that will at least arm players with a basic knowledge of the skills they’ll need to succeed. Wanting to emulate how classic adventure games were designed is a valiant endeavor, but it must be understood that not all ideas and mechanics age well.
This is a shame, because there’s a lot to like about Quest for Infamy. Its art design is beautiful and evocative, rivaling even the most detailed of classic adventure games. While some of the comedy relies a bit too heavily on breaking the fourth wall and rude japes from the narrator, many of the game’s moments, characters, and interactions are genuinely amusing, and the amount of detail poured into the voice acting and dialog really is impressive. It’s all built within a wonderful world filled with secrets begging to be discovered. Unfortunately, the Quest for Infamy’s insistence to use tired design choices and poor communication largely negates a lot of the great things to be found within.