Sierra Quest: Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire (1990)

There's one big difference, besides the setting, between the first and the second game of the series: where QfG1 was pretty relaxed about the use of time, QfG2 is fully tied with time and things happening during certain days. This is both, good and a bad thing. Oh, and while there's a VGA remake of the game, it's not an official remake, but a fan remake, so I won't be using screenshots of that on this article. It's a solid remake though, so you should go and grab it as it's free.

So back to the business. As I was saying, being tied by time is both a good and a bad thing. See, if you've completed the game previously there's actually very little things to actually solve in the game. Instead of trying to figure out how to solve puzzles, you spend a good chunk of the first 17 game days doing little nothing else but grinding your character in order to make him the best possible exportable for the 3rd game. But let's tackle that a bit later, shall we and start from the beginning.

Trial by Fire is set a little after the end of Quest for Glory 1. The hero of Spielburg travels to Shapeir with his new friends, merchant Abdulla Doo and Katta innkeepers Shema and Shameen. From the very beginning, you start hearing rumours about the twin city of Shapeir, Raseir, being taken over by evil entities, but it's only later on in the game that you can actually go there. The first thing to do is to get to know the lay of the land and start bulking up the hero as well as to become an even better hero by doing heroic deeds of heroism. This time around the setting of the game is heavily based on Arabian fables and legends, so say goodbye to the Germanic themed fantasy.

The inn where you can hang with your Katta buddies Shema and Shameen and Abdulla you met in the first game as well as watch local entertainment like the dance act of  Shema.

Just like the first game, Quest for Glory 2 is an RPG/adventure hybrid. The game is played in the typical Sierra style of the era, so while you can use the mouse cursor to move around and right click to look at things, the main bulk of the commands are given through a text parser. The combat system if pretty similar to the 1st game, but if you've exported a well-rounded character to continue the game with, the evasive actions during the combat are even more useless.

The spells are again thrown by typing in commands like "cast flame dart", but if you're playing with a fighter, the use of a shield will prevent you from doing so in combat, as there's just too much metal on your hands.

Again, just like in the first game, there are class specific things you can do in the game. Of course, the stuff reserved for mages can be accessed by anyone with knowledge of magic, but thieves have their little burglary missions and now there's even a bit bigger side quest for fighters in the form of EOF initiation, where you need to show your might in the combat. Shapeir itself is surrounded by a desert you need to navigate a bit and where you find things to kill and some quests to solve. again, just like in the first game, the desert is done in an adventure game fashion, so you'll need to map your own way. Though there are only a couple of points of interest there, so it's simpler just to jot down how many screens from Shapeir you need to walk.

Again the game has day/night cycle that effects on the locations. Gone are the merchants and the desert are again filled with more dangerous beasts.

The city of Shapeir is much more of a maze, but your travels are made easier with a magic map which allows you to teleport between locations of interest. Interestingly enough the map itself is a bit of a copy protection scheme, as you need to use a physical map that shipped with the game in order to get to a money changer in order to get local currency so you have means to buy the map. More interestingly enough it's simpler just to walk out of the city, kill an enemy with money or sellable parts and use that money to buy the map. So not much of a copy protection that.

But, as I stated earlier, the game itself is very much tied to time. This is a good thing if you're playing the game the first time, as it seems like the world is moving at its own pace, throwing more things towards you as you progress. This also gives seemingly tight deadlines for you to complete stuff in. The thing is though, that if you've played the game before, those deadlines aren't very strict at all, as the puzzle solutions are in the end very simple after you've solved them once already.

This structure leads to a situation where you aren't actually spending that much time in solving puzzles more than you are spending your time just bulking up your character. The game system works very well for the first time, but in additional playthroughs, the game just starts to feel a bit tedious. This is a reason I think the first game is much more replayable, as you can plough it through as fast as you want. There's only a couple of time tied events in it and those that are can happen on any day during a certain time.

One place to spend time is the adventurers guild where you can meet new friends and get some combat practice from a fierce warrioress Uhura.

Along with a couple of side quests in Shapeir, the main events in the city are the attacks of fire, water, earth and air elementals. In order to become a hero, and advance in the game, you need to take care of them before they'll destroy the whole city. These events are very tightly tied to specific dates, so no matter how quickly you solve the side missions and how fast you'll manage to grind your character up, you always have to wait for these events to unfold.

Now yes, this does make the game a tad longer than the first game is and in a sense it also makes the game a better experience if you're playing it the first time, as it's likely that you still have plenty of other things to do between the elemental attacks. But as I said, if you already know the game, the time between the main events is just frustrating, as you most likely end up doing a lot of thins quite fast and either sleep or just train the meantime. Hence the tedium factor.

Locked in a mortal combat with a brigand

The final half of the story taking place in Raseir, where evil Ad Avis has taken power,  shifts more towards a regular adventure game. Sure, the skills you've learned are still useful, as they'll help you to succeed, but there are more puzzles and less combat this time around despite Raseir being a city locked down by a martial law.

In many ways, the last half of the game is more enjoyable even on multiple playthroughs, as you don't need to spend that much time waiting around. You still do need to pass time for a couple of days, mainly by walking around and so on, but things do progress a bit faster this time around.

Raseir ain't half as nice of a place. It's all dirty and grey and oppressed and stuff.

When I played Trial by Fire the first time I thought it was clearly a better game than the first one, mainly because it felt much bigger. But after additional playthroughs I've come to think it as a game that is far too tied to its structure and the open nature it seems to have is just a facade. Despite you can go anywhere you want you can do things only when the game allows you to do so.

Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire is an okay game. It's a great game if you're playing it the first time, but in the end, I don't think it really holds up that well if you think of replay value. The structure of it is far too obvious and in the end bulking up the hero is a bit of a tedious thing to spend a majority of the game time to.

If you want it, QfG2 is a part of a collection sold at GOG.