Kickstarter has made a reputation for itself, though not necessarily the same one to all people. Some see it as a platform overtaken by big-name old hats with ready access to funds, pushing out smaller teams and making it ever more difficult to gain exposure. Others see it as the wave of the future, allowing those small teams with good ideas and business plans to make the games we all wish big publishers would take a chance on: throwback titles, experimental 2D thought pieces, metroidvanias, and everything else one can think up. Infamous Quests’ Quest for Infamy falls squarely in support of the latter notion, a point-and-click adventure built on the Adventure Game Studio (AGS) engine with a presentation that wouldn’t be out of place in the golden 90’s era of Sierra questing.
To know the heart of Quest for Infamy is to know its spiritual parent, Quest for Glory, a title from Sierra’s heyday that melded RPG-style combat and leveling systems with the point-and-click-and-pick-up-everything-for-puzzling conceits of your latter-day King’s Quests. Quest for Infamy bleeds similar blood, though its roguish sort-of protagonist Roehm seeks less savory fruits for his labors than the heroic leads from which he descends. Despite his billing, Roehm actually isn’t all that vile, feeling more like an antihero than a villain, largely due to the verbal barbs he’s more than happy to dole out to the denizens of the local town. On that token, there’s a lot of humor in the game’s dialogue, and while some of it’s a bit flat, there were several occasions in which the game earned my laughter. The main plot never amounts to much, but between the generally good writing, goofy characters, and exploration, that doesn’t take the game down many pegs.
The game offers the choice of three classes, each with their own solutions to puzzles and slightly different quest paths and dialogue. I rolled through the land in my usual wizardly ways, and found the process of securing different components to learn spells a compelling way to make the kleptomania of these sorts of games work as a method of character progression. Those less magically-inclined will find a sticky-fingered rogue and hulk-smashy-type warrior as alternatives.
Aside from all of that, Quest for Infamy unfolds much as you’d expect a game of this style to, with the wrinkle of not-especially-good combat punctuating the adventuring. It’s not that the developers failed to deliver; on the contrary, the battle system works exactly as intended, and for a player like me with ample reserves of nostalgia to tap into, it was plenty engaging. Separate me from my rose-colored fondness for “the way it used to be,” though, and I’m forced to admit that the combat isn’t all that great. You select from several patterns of physical attack, potions, defending, and magic (if applicable), and are free to do so whenever a timer onscreen fills up, but aside from each monster being predisposed towards and against certain kinds of strikes, there isn’t a whole lot to combat, and repeatedly using the correct attack will often still result in hearing the “failed to hit” sound effect over and over.
Still, I don’t know if it’s the 256-bit graphics or the fact that this game looks so similar to the most singularly formative gaming experience of my life (King’s Quest VI), but Quest for Infamy manages to get a smile out of me even in spite of its flaws. While I couldn’t recommend it to people who don’t get what makes these classic-styled adventures special, anyone with an open mind or a history in Sierra gaming should sign up without delay.