Currently playing: Nox Archaist

July 6, 2012

Ishar 1 - Frustrating saving mechanism

For the last few hours I´ve made the attempt at starting up Ishar 1 - Legend of the Fortress. The game has pretty ok graphics for a 1992 PC game and I fiddled around for an hour with it after having read the short manual. 

First impression is pretty ok
The interface takes time to get used to but I moved around and recruited my first follower as seen below who turned up to be a thief. One thing the Ishar games were famous for was the interrelated morale and opinions of your party members. Some might not like each other which could affect quite a deal of the game or refuse you to recruit a certain person.  

There is an ingame map of the land but your location is not visible so it is not of too much use even though I know where I begin. I met some wandering monsters and built up my first character to level 2 very quickly. I noticed it drains physical strength to fight as well as draining your life points when hit (what a surprise!). You won´t recover life points by time so you have to eat to restore it. Eating could be done at taverns found in villages but food is expensive.

Fighting is done by fast clicking on the attack button and it happens in realtime. I am not sure what I would gain by letting other characters attack as well since the recovery rate is so quick with one character. Anyway, what I really wanted to come down to with this quick notice about Ishar is the reason for me not to continue with it. 

Saving a game costs you 1.000 gold. That is pretty much what you start with in the beginning and you only get gold by slaining foes. That gold is needed to heal you. I can see the picture before me further into the game. I would only save when neccessary, taking great risks between the saves and in the end only get me frustrated. This reason alone let me quit the efforts of starting with Ishar 1. I am not saying this game does not have potential but when there are so much good old CRPGs out there still waiting to be discovered, this piece is not for me to pick up right now.

 I know its sequel Ishar 2 does not have this rule. So lets try that out....


  1. Wow, what a odd save mechanism. I never knew Ishar had that implemented. Pretty interesting.

    Sounds like it will be a challenging game!

  2. Hmm... You could try playing the Amiga version.

    I think the emulator lets you saving states, so you could use that as a form of saving at any time.

  3. There's also a save states version (not entirely stable when I tried it) for DOSBox.

    Ishar 1 was supposed to be my upcoming game on my play list, but I decided against it, commenting on my list "sounds boring".

    I think I briefly tried a pirate copy of one of the Ishar games back in my Amiga days, but obviosuly it didn't grab me. My fondest memory of Ishar is actually a review in an Amiga magazine. It showed a picture of some very angry and ugly orcs with the caption "Looks like Millwall has lost again", being of course a reference to the infamous Millwall football hooligans of the time.

  4. Thankfully they did away with 'pay to save' in Ishar 2. I'm surprised you didn't start with Crystals of Arborea which was a prequel to the Ishar series, if not officially part of it.

    1. I know crystals of Arborea is the first of them but starting with that could indicate I was to try out the whole series sequentially which never was my goal. Let´s see if Ishar 2 is good enough and then I´ll see wether other parts of the series will be revisited. Thanks for reading!

  5. "Ishar 2" is the best of the trilogy, at least in my opinion, so I hope you'll enjoy it. As for the first part you could always try hex-editing the money of one of the characters and keep this pile for saving purposes (yeah, I know it's a bit hardcore, but that's what I did when playing the game a few years ago).

  6. The Ishar-Series never really got my interest to invest Time and the Money for playing and reading that you must Pay In-Game Gold for saving your Game sounds downright ridiculous...

  7. Ishar 1 is one of my favorite games of all time. To be honest, it is not by any means the best rpg game out there but had some really interesting features that I haven't seen in later games.

    For example, the voting system is brilliant and realistic, as characters are not expected to like everybody else, just like in real life. If one of the party members hated another, then he would refuse to heal him. Additionally, some traitorous characters could leave your party when sleeping. That was awesome.

    But, of course, it could have been made much better. The game shouldn't allow you to kill one of the members using those that like him/her. That doesn't make sense. Some characters are pretty much useless, especially the thieves, spies, hypnotists, etc...

    The story, the dialogues and the clues are really poor. However, the immersion is quite good. Maybe that's where its charm lies. There are forests, dungeons, cities, fortresses, little villages, piers, lonely houses, etc... It is very varied and not boring at all.

    It's worth a try.

  8. Come back to when it was published.
    As far as I know, Ishar was the first "real-time first person RPG" that was not a "full dungeon adventure".
    That was what made it really appealing : you traveled across countries, through forests, across rivers, into villages and cities where other RPGs had nothing more to show you than walls, other walls and more walls.
    That said, I'm not fond of it's real-time combat system and do prefer the Might & Magic series.
    But none of the M&M has a better immersion value than Ishar.

    I noted than an Ishar character can refuse to heal another character (using the "heal" skill) but will still accept casting a healing spell to the very same character...

  9. theres a troll in the first dungeon waiting around the corner to smack your head off with one single blow. so there you would have quit the game, crying, anyway. xDD
    (great article)