Gameworld & Story
The gameworld when counting the overland squares is not very big. Actually it consists of a few islands which are very small. Perhaps not more than 100 squares or so. At each island there are several cities and other places to visit. But that´s about it. You do not get very much information about the background but that is also intentional and part of the story. The problem is that it takes very long time for you to build up knowledge about the world around you. It comes from rumours or from the paragraphs in the manual. Sure they are well written but most of them don´t add anything to the background or mainplots. The rumours however seems to be very important. I never got the patience or grip of what to actually do or what to pursue next. It is a great thing this game is non-linear. You could take on almost any place as long as you can survive to get there. But the lack of direction also is frustrating and helps to diminish the gameplay value in a time where you have to get out the most of your invested spare time into CRPGs. Of the story that I have gathered though, it seems to be interesting but very classical.
You sure need money in this game. Even though there are not many weapons, armour or other things to buy you need it to buy dragon stones to restore mana or heal the party. I have never accumulated more than 4.000 gold and still a plate mail would cost me 3.100 gold. So money never run out of being unimportant. But the places to use them is far between. Only in a few places did I find use for them. I have not found a place to buy any magical equipment whatsoever, except for some spells.
What I don´t like is that there is no way to know which weapon do the best kind of damage. You never see any statistics. Neither if they effect your attack or defense values. I switched from a handaxe to a battleaxe (with no skill in either) and the battleaxe gave me -2 in attack. Why ? I don´t know and you don´t get that information from the weapons even if you pay for 100 gold for examination. With armour you see if your Armour Class improves and how much very easily.
NPC and Interactions
The few important NPC you meet are mostly shopkeepers. I haven´t met a single NPC yet who is not a foe and that I can interact with in any way or that give me advice or instructions. There are no interaction to be found.
Monsters and Tactics
There are a lot of different monsters and most of the have their own images. Spiders, Goblins, Beggars, thieves, robbers, wraiths, magicians etc. Since this is the unofficial Bard´s Tale IV that is nothing new. In combat you have very limited tactics to use. Sure you can move behind weak characters or move forward newly healed ones. But that´s about it. You could with your magicians and characters with long-range weapons start attacking from a distance or even hurl your opponents back in line. But that´s about it. You cannot specifically attack a single enemy. You always attacks a single group. You could run and most of the time you could do that before initiating combat and that is very good but sometimes the enemies start at 10 feet from you and you can´t get away until they have had a free attack against you. Some foes use the same tactics against you. There were some magicians that hurled me backwards every round at the same time I was moving forward, resulting in me not moving closer. The only way of winning this fight was to use my magicians against the foes and use up my valuable mana pool. Tactics was better used in Demon's Winter.
Almost every map is fixed as squares like 16x16 or 32x32. The overland maps are a little more different but there is not very much variations. Within those squares there are some variety though but overall the maps are not the strength of this game.
Graphics, sound and interface
The interface is keyboard driven (in dosbox) and it works quite well. But in combat it is very cumbersome to repeat casting certain spells. There should have been a command that makes you repeat last turns action. After combat it is very cumbersome to heal or bandage the group . But apart from that the interface works quite ok. The graphics is very simple and not many colors are used. Most of the places look the same. The sound is almost non-existent and very poor.
The PC version is far behind the Amiga version in terms of graphics and especially sound. The music in the Amiga version is excellent and I still listen to it occasionally.
If I would have umlimited time I would still be playing this game. It is rewarding in its own ways. You always want to explore more. You could stumble over locked chests anywhere or new merchants with valuable equpment. The problem is that the weapons you find does hardly any difference in damage. The fights are too common and too random in its difficulty. I frequently had to reload since I got killed and there is no way known so far to ressurrect characters. But most of all, the lack of feeling progress either in character levels or in the main plot makes you loose interests after 15 hours if you still don´t know what you´re doing. The fights are quite good because they are fast resolved but cumbersome repetions make them tedious in the long run. I did have more feeling for the world and better atmosphere in Demon's Winter though I know that this game should be able to supercede it in almost every aspect. If it would have been a little bit more streamlined of where to go I could feel some sort of completeness of the areas I´ve visited. But as it is now, I just run around everywhere hoping to find something to lead me further into it.