The saga of the hero of Quest for Glory games ends in the 5th part of the game, Dragon Fire. And for me, it's the most disappointing game in the series. I know I said Wages of War is a game you could easily ignore, but that's more of because it feels like a side note. Dragon Fire, on the other hand, feels a bit too mundane and lazy and tired. It feels a bit forced way in trying to tie up many of the loose ends of the series. And in that it's the game in the series that I don't really like to play that much, despite it does have some things going for it.
Out of all the games in the main series, even when compared to Wages of War, Dragon Fire feels more like a failed attempt to create something grand. Personally, like I said, I don't really like to play it and I think I've only completed it once or twice in its entirety, while I've played the previous 4 multiple times with every character configuration.
This time around the mythology borrows heavily and I mean very heavily from Greek myths. The previous games always borrowed elements from different sources, but Dragon Fire makes me feel more like it was originally meant to be a different game set in an ancient Greece, but at some point, it was decided to call it Quest for Glory instead.
In any case, the hero has left Mordavia behind and arrives at the kingdom of Silmaria after his old friend Erasmus summons him. The king is dead, murdered, and the hero's mission is to find who did it and why. At the same time, he's to take part in the Rites of Rulership, that are supposed to determine the best new ruler among brave individuals.
Besides Erasmus, there are other returning characters from the previous games. There's the liontaur Rakeesh, Elsa, the daughter of the baron of Spielburg and Signor Ferrari from Raseir to mention a few. We also finally get to meet the head of the Adventurer's Correspondence School, the main reason why the hero started the whole hero business in the first place.
Technically speaking a lot of has changed from the previous games. First and foremost Dragon Fire tries much harder to be more like an action RPG rather than an adventure game. This is more noticeable in the combat system, which now takes place in the actual game world screen instead of a separate combat instance. The combat is also in real time and you can have multiple enemies attacking you at once. And, as such, this probably is the most interesting, or at least most involving, the combat system in the series, as you really do need to use your health potions and spells while you whack the enemies.
The thing about the combat just is, that it's not particularly fun. What the gameplay side of it ends up is, that you just click the monster, or press a keyboard key, until someone is dead, while throwing spells from your quick menu and healing up if needed. And frankly, this all is a bit tasking, as the camera is in a fixed position on the screen, which all are panoramic. So if you happen to fight in a far end of the screen, the enemies and the hero are quite small in worst cases. In a hindsight, it would have been better if the combat itself would have taken place in a separate instance, as it would have made some of the battles more clearer.
Another thing that has changed in the game is, that the equipment you use has an effect on your stats. Like for an example, heavy armour lowers your speed and agility. Also, as swimming has been inserted into the game as a new skill, you can't swim while wearing heavy armour.
The world travel happens again on a world map, just like in Wages of War, this time around there's more locations, but many of those locations aren't that interesting. There's the Dragon Statues scattered in the different locations of the world, as well as there are fishing villages and so on, but most of them are desolate and have no other function but to work as training areas.
The graphical style has changed as well. The previous games were all traditionally animated and illustrated point & click games. This time around the surroundings are horribly aged pre-rendered 3D from the mid 90's and the characters aren't that much better, as they're horribly aged mid 90's real-time 3D. In a word, the whole game is now 2.5D, which by itself wouldn't be bad, but the time really hasn't been very kind to this particular style of art, especially in the low-resolution format it's presented in.
As for content, Dragon Fire actually does offer a good share of things to do for every class. Though the biggest annoyance of the game is the mini-game that thief has to play every time he picks a lock. Out of all the picklock systems I've seen in games, this is the worst, as instead of doing anything lock related you just need to play a memory game of picking up a right group of dancing figures.
The story also tries to give the hero a proper send-off, as this time around you can try to romance several women, who all are a good match for some character class. There's a harem girl from Sapeir, as well as a possibility to woo Elsa and after you've had a trip to Hades, you can choose to bring back one of the two notable female characters, magician Erana or the former dark master Katrina. Erana as a proper do-gooder is a perfect match for mages and paladins whereas Katrina doesn't even look at all noble sword dusters, while does like fighters and thieves and mages I suppose.
So yeah. Dragon Fire is clearly meant to be a final conclusion for the series. Not only is it possible to gain the throne for the hero, it is possible, but not necessary, to try to win over the woman you like the most. This by itself is a mini-game of finding various gifts and just generally hanging out with the one you choose.
But, if it hasn't come clear yet, I don't particularly like Dragon Fire. I've played it through a couple of times, but it's a game that I just don't really feel like investing time in. I re-installed it for my little play through series, but in all honesty, I just couldn't muster the energy to even speed walk through it.
Quest for Glory 5: Dragon Fire is a disappointing finale for a good series. It saddens me a bit, as I do want to like it, but in the end, I think the writing, that makes the previous games, and the gameplay just isn't there.
Still, if you feel like giving it a go, you can get from GOG as a part of the QFG collection, so it's not like you have to buy it separately.
P.S. The images are from Mobygames.com, as from some reason I couldn't get proper screenshots by using Fraps.