Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans

Back in the magical age of 1990s, when the Internet was just coming and adventure games were still the biggest game genre around, Blizzard, the developer of Warcraft RTS games, decided to turn their cliched fantasy series towards other genres as well. In this case, the other genre being an adventure game.

Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was a game never released. It was almost completed, but because of development issues, it was postponed from its original 1997 release date to 1998, after which Blizzard just lost their confidence to it and decided to cut their losses and shelve it. Despite the game already had most of the locations, animations and voice work done, it was still seen as a risky project as in the end they would have needed to rework it quite a bit because of script and puzzle issues.

Thrall's first task is pretty evident.
So that was that for Warcraft Adventures. Despite Blizzard went on to make more RTS Warcraft and later on the gigantic MMORPG World of Warcraft,  people still never really forgot about the lost adventure game.  Once in a while, it was rumoured to be available for download in a form or another, but it never really surfaced. Until it finally did, in late 2016.

Almost 20 years after its cancellation Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans was finally leaked in the net as complete it's ever going to be: it's missing some of the voice acting and some of the in-game cinematics, but it can be played through from start to finish. Of course, downloading it isn't strictly legal, so if you don't want to download the game itself, you should be able to find play troughs of it from YouTube.


So that's enough introduction to this one, I guess. A question now remains, is it really a good game? Or better yet could it have been? See, it's not really a great game as it's now.  The biggest problem definitely lies in the script and the humour. The story itself is poorly presented and the jokes are often just juvenile. Quality of the jokes is underlined by at best mediocre voice acting. It's easy to see why Blizzard felt that turning Lord of the Clans into a really good game would have been too much of a risk, especially because of the amount of 2D cinematics in the game. By the end of the 1990s, traditional 2D adventure games were already a dwindling genre, while more modern 3D engines had started to take over.

Before the giants like Sierra and Lucasarts stopped making adventures they tried to modernize the genre by making the puzzles more logical and games themselves revolve more and more around the plot. In contrast to that Lord of the Clans is pretty old school in style. Some of the puzzles are illogical, many require you to run around the locations, trying to loot everything in sight. Granted, most of the puzzles are pretty easy even with all the running around, but as such it doesn't translate into good gameplay, especially when you lug around items like a rotting mouse corpse because you need it at the end of the game.

Where Lord of the Clans is the most ambitious is the animation, especially for a game made in the '90s. After FMV movies begun to emerge, a lot of games started to take cues from movies in order to emulate more cinematic storytelling. Lord of the Clans is no exception. It's actually very easy to see why Blizzard was probably thinking redoing a huge bulk of the script would have been expensive, as there's quite a bit of animation and cinematics in the game. Think about something like the Full Throttle by Lucasarts, but with more higher resolution graphics and with even more cinematics.

So, answer to my previous questions are these: Lord of the Clans is not a great game, not by a long shot. It's poorly written, relatively cliched point and click adventure. The state it is would have made it nothing more but a mediocre release even back in the day. It could have been a good game had it been completely re-written. It is, however, an intriguing piece of gaming history, an almost completed game never officially published.

As I stated previously, the leak has not been sanctioned by Blizzard or any Warcraft rights holder, so downloading the game isn't strictly legal.  That's why I'm not going to provide any links to it, so if you want it, you need to search for it yourself.

The pinup poster on the door tells all you need to know about the style of comedy in this one.