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Legend of the North: Konung

Score: 65%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: 1C Company
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Legend of the North are reminiscent of the original Diablo, albeit with larger characters. The environments are not terribly detailed, and some of the two-step animations are quite laughable. There are some nice, well-detailed areas, though, such as a few of the towns. For the most part, though, Konung feels like the same areas cut-and-pasted over and over again.

The sound is quite similar -- nothing memorable or exciting. You'll hear lots of oofs and grunts as your poor party gets slaughtered by the bad guys, usually ten at a time, but for the most part the game is rather barren, soundwise. There's some ambient noise that's actually pretty cool, but it's nothing particularly special. The voice acting, such as it is, is actually pretty solid. Of course, almost everyone has the same voice, so you can imagine it wasn't too hard to get all the voicing done.


And to go with the lackluster graphics and sound, Legend of the North offers some of the most repetitive action that I've seen in a while. Playing like a bad Diablo knock-off, you'll find yourself running around for hours trying to get much of anywhere.

Now, I must admit that I started to enjoy the game as I played it more and more. But every once in a while I find games that are amazingly rote to be entertaining, in a 'how far can I take this?' sort of way. I ran around for literally hours, making potions and oils and whatnot, not because it really got me anywhere but because it amused me. I'd imagine that most gamers, on the other hand, would just put the game down in disgust.

The first major flaw of the game appears when you try either the tutorial or the actual game -- your character walks like he's in some sort of slow-mo field. You can speed up the game by pressing the + key, but make sure you slow it back down before you get into battle -- using potions is nigh-impossible when you're getting wailed on three times faster than you should be. This sort of constant speed-tweaking is absolutely obnoxious, even if it becomes 'second nature' as you play the game.

Another flaw is the large difficulty curve. It's challenging to find anywhere you can go at the beginning of the game without getting slaughtered, and after playing for hours your realm of expansion will have only grown by a few screens. This sort of thing isn't fun -- artificial difficulty is never amusing. Take a look at a game like Diablo II, where the difficulty ramps up naturally, and then look at Konung. It's a world of difference.

But the number one issue I had with the game was the way the screen scrolls. You have to mouse to the sides to make it scroll, but there's a limit to how much you can make it move. Going north or east isn't too bad -- there isn't any interface in those locations -- but going west or south is an exercise in repetitive strain injury. You have to move the mouse down to scroll, back up to click where you want to move, and back down. Ugh.

That's not to say that Konung doesn't have some nice touches. The ability to make your own potions, which start out dilute but become stronger as you use more ingredients, is actually quite cool, and the skill system, while limited, gives visible improvement. By the time I was done 'drug-running', I was getting almost 100% more use out of each herb than I was when I started. But for the most part, the game feels awfully repetitive and uninteresting, without the wide variety of happenings that made the Diablo games interesting all the way through.

Konung supports network play, but it's only over a LAN, so I could not test it out.


Legend of the North is well-nigh impossible at the beginning if you don't pick and choose your battles carefully. Once you get a bow, however -- which may be a long, long time if you didn't put a lot of points in Dexterity -- you can do some really cheap fighting maneuvers to make your life easier. Enemy groups seem to have a 'territory' that they attack anyone in. Using arrows to attack, then backing out of the territory, keeps them from ever fighting you. It's cheap, but it's also often the only way to get certain places that you have to get when you don't have the levels to get there. The game still gangs up on you way too often. Creep and save is often key.

Game Mechanics:

Controlling the game is often random and futile. Why does right-clicking on a transporter not use it, but left-clicking does? They both move you onto the square with the transporter. It makes absolutely no sense. There are also some very odd things that can happen when you're mixing potions -- combining a potion with an empty glass gets you a weird potion. Huh? The whole scrolling thing is beyond frustrating. The actual combat system, however, is actually quite solid. Unless you have ranged attacks, don't even think about attacking anything above your current level. You will die, rapidly. And the way experience is handled is quite cool -- you're raising your stats constantly, which feels better than the occasional level boost in Diablo.

Legend of the North: Konung offers a few new ideas, but for the most part it plays as a long, boring clone of Diablo. There just isn't enough here to keep you interested for the whole game, and the frustrating start of the game will turn off many players. Those who persevere may have a few moments of genuine enjoyment, but most of the time playing Konung feels more like work and less like entertainment. Even at the low price point it's being offered, only those who are desperately seeking Diablo-style games should consider buying it. And I'd suggest playing through either Diablo again, or Darkstone, instead.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/Me, P166, 150MB HD Space, 8x CD-ROM, 16-bit 640x480 video card, DirectX-compatible sound, keyboard, mouse

Test System:

AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6x/24x DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/ 32 MB RAM

Windows Kohan: Ahriman's Gift Windows Lego Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated