The Legend of Kyrandia, Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge
First posted on 14 March 1998. Last updated on 12 August 2009.
The third book of The Legend of Kyrandia series, The Legend of Kyrandia, Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge, reunites the same production team as the previous games in this series, but somehow the weaknesses of the earlier games seem to have grown in this sequel. There is a good attempt at a thematic twist in the last of the books—the villain is now remade into a hero.
At the end of The Legend of Kyrandia: Fables & Fiends, Brandon has turned the evil court jester Malcolm, into a statue. Malcolm has previously killed Brandon's parents, the rightful king and queen of Kyrandia. A bolt of lightning has just freed Malcolm. In this chapter, Malcolm turns out not to be so evil after all. It is a magic knife that has actually killed the monarchs. Malcolm must now prove his innocence. A Malcolm, your first task is to leave Kyrandia. After a stay of the Isle of Cats, you hitch a ride on a pirate ship. To your dismay, those nasty pirates sell you back to your enemy Brandon who promptly drops you off the edge of the earth. You end up in Limbo and have to work your way out of Limbo and through Hell to return to Kyrandia. In the meanwhile, Kyrandia has been taken over by those same pirates. You must therefore free Kyrandia first and then finally prove your innocence to the Kyrandians.
The Legend of Kyrandia, Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge is similar to both previous games in the series. It is a third person adventure, with animated cartoon sprites on paned cartoon backgrounds. There is a small inventory and a single action mouse for control. The interface is simple and intuitive. The only annoyance for me is the small inventory—it is large enough if you know what to do and what you need to do it, but I frequently find myself caching items and returning to the cache. The artwork is well done but not dazzling. It simply and effectively presents the world of Kyrandia. The game features a new soundtrack and fully digitized speech by over 30 actors. The music and sound effects are pleasant, but they do not draw much attention to themselves. A new video compression system known as VQ is used to minimize loading time of the graphics. It is rumored that VQ stands for "Video Queen".
The puzzles in The Legend of Kyrandia, Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge are mostly inventory based—using one object on another. Unfortunately, the puzzles frequently are lacking in logic. Some are hard and some are clever but many are silly, so you frequently end up just trying everything. There are some tedious bits, including one very annoying maze. Success also depends on random events which may take a long time coming, without you even knowing that you should be expecting them. For example, in a search through the dump you find various objects. You may have to search a great many times before you find a necessary item; all the repeats then suggest that there are no more items to find.
On a positive note, there is a good attempt by the design team to enhance the replay value of this game. There are many ways to initially leave Kyrandia. Some show you sections of the game that you may not see if you leave another way. There is also a section near the end where you may choose from three different choices, each leading to a different play. The multiple paths at the beginning and end of the game are worth exploring. There are over 80 rendered scenes. The game is already of a good size and these alternate paths extend the gameplay considerably.
Several other new enhancements of the game engine are also evident. The first is the new interactive Moodometer that is used to control Malcolm's personality and speech while interacting with other Kyrandians. The second is Supersound that can simultaneously weave a lively musical score with real sound effects. The third is a no click interface in which the player can access options simply by moving the mouse to the lower screen. The inventory or options screen can now dramatically shrinks down to a bar when not in use.
On a negative note, the voice acting in this game seems much worse than in the previous titles despite the same cast of voiceover actors,. The voice acting is never good to start with, and in this game it is just terrible. The puzzles in this installment are much harder than in the previous games. Several of them are very silly. The reformation of Malcolm outlined in the story is strained. He is a very nasty character in the original game, so dismissing his deed as simple mischief is hard to accept.
Interesting, the name "Fables & Fiends", which appears in the initial release of this game as well as in both previous games of this series, is subsequently lost from the box cover. The likely reason for this change is for market purposes to allow gamers to easily recognize that this title is a sequel in a trilogy known as "The Legend of Kyrandia: Fables & Fiends". The numbering style of the books has also been changed from "Three" to the numerical designation "3" on the newer box cover.
This third book in The Legend of Kyrandia series seems to have been a rushed production. The dialog is much worse than in the previous titles, and the poor acting compounds on this letdown. While there is an ambitious structure to the puzzles, the frequently arbitrary actions and the several long tedious solutions make The Legend of Kyrandia, Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge more of an ordeal than an adventure.