Record of Lodoss War
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2001-11-27 Dreamcast Action/RPG M (Mature) Crave Entertainment

It's so rare nowadays to find an interesting action/RPG with a good story. I usually end up stuck with an interesting storyline in a crappy game that gets boring after a couple of hours of playing or with a good game that actually catches my attention for a moment, until a mediocre plot turns me off. However, I am happy to report, neither is the case of Record of Lodoss War!

Resurrected by the powerful wizard Wart, you take control of a mysterious red-haired warrior who has no memory of his past life. Your purpose is to prevent the resurrection of the evil goddess Kardis and save the world of Forceria. To do so, you must re-learn how to fight, and become the powerful warrior you once were. You must improve your skills, equipment and magical abilities in order to defeat the numerous foes that cross your path.

Although complex, the game playing system will be explained to you as your adventure proceeds. Your first task is to take over the goblin fortress, which will become your 'home'. You will have Wart as your personal advisor and a faithful blacksmith who will make your life a lot easier! Even the goblins will give you a little hand if needed, just don't tell them to drop dead or they will, literally.

Hacking and slashing all the way through, you will meet hundreds of creatures, each nastier than the last. Golems and giants, demons and skeletons, goblins and ogres, will try to take you down as your quest progresses. They will become less of a threat as you find better equipment. The spells and ancient words, which are the best power-up system I've seen in a game, are found scattered through the lands of Marmo, in stone monuments. You can scribe them on your equipment to increase your stats. Actually, your friend the blacksmith will do that for you. However, in order to scribe them, he needs you to find him a special metal, mithril, which you will find as you kill enemies or in blue crystal clusters. These clusters will need to be mined, and for that you must find a mining pick. Again, the blacksmith is your friend here! He can duplicate mining picks and lock picks, which are expendable and disappear after one use.

There are tons of other useful trinkets besides armor and weapons. Decoding scrolls and a decoding book are needed to open sealed doors; magical wands and spell books are used to allow you to learn spells permanently. There is a good assortment of potions; empty vials that you can fill with healing potions at the wells, and 30 gold medallions that will lead you to a nifty surprise... or is it?

Aside from the surface of Marmo, there are dungeons to explore, each of them with a boss. Of course, you will have to know which ancient words and spells will be more effective on a certain type of foe, and don't be afraid to use the landscape in your favor. Sometimes a pillar or a rock can make a big difference.

Defeating the dungeon bosses will reward you with a medallion and ancient word and sometimes a treasure. You will eventually come across teleport points in certain places that will make travelling a lot easier, since they connect to your fortress.

I really enjoyed the three big boss fights, the goddess Kardis being easier than the black dragon and the green dragon. I wasn't expecting to have to kill Narse, the black dragon, I had chosen to be his guardian after all. But his wish was to die in combat, and it was my job as a guardian to make sure that he did.

Even though this is a single player game, at certain times you will have allies to help you in combat. You will then be responsible for their health, but not for their actions, and you can fight with up to two AI partners, and adventure with them through the vast areas of swamp, forest and desert.

My total playing time, 73 hours and counting. This is my warrior's profile at the end of the game, and I haven't even inscribed all the runes fully:

Level: 100
HP: 22,545
MP: 751
STR: 740
DEX: 550
INT: 386
DMG: 1664
CRIT: 182% (7.5)
AR: 1494
DUR: 544
PAR: 596
MAG: 373
Dragon Helm (Vitalization of Mana)
Dragon Sword (Mana to Flesh)
Dragon Shield (Incarnation of the Goddess)
Dragon Armor (Body Control)
Piece of Ear +3
Soul Cape +7
Speed Boots +5 (or Silent Boots +7)
Clothes Belt +7
Speed Ring +5
Ring of Power +9
Fine Necklace +8
Efreeti Wall Wand
Thunder Wall Wand

Record of Lodoss War is an action/RPG game with an amazing story that unfolds through over 40 hours of gameplay. The graphics are a bit dark, but very detailed. The spell effects are amazing (fire and wind magic being my favorites) and the characters animations are smooth. The only problem occurs when there are too many enemies on the screen and the image slows down. The FMV sequences are stunning, and the voice acting, music and sound effects are crystal clear.

Every little bit of story touched me to the point that I was no longer controlling a character, but was the red-haired warrior myself. Knowing I would have to die to save Forceria made me feel even more of a hero, and the scene when Wart carries my dead body on his back brought tears to my eyes.

After finishing the game for the second time (hooray for replay value!), I did some research on it, and learned that the story takes place after the events in the anime series. I have never watched it, and had never heard of it until the game, but as I played and grew fond of the characters, got curious about their backgrounds and drooled all over the red-haired hero's good looks, I now intend to!