Around 1993, Legend Entertainment decided to mostly stop developing their own ideas and started pounding out adventure titles based on best-selling novels. Shannara was probably the most high-profile of them all. I was hesitant at first as neither the genre nor Terry Brooks’s style appeals to me, but I found Shannara to be a mostly pleasant, if very simple, adventure.
You play as Jak Ohmsford, son of Shea, who learns that the evil warlock Brona is back in town and wanting to be his bad self again. In order to defeat him, you must travel to the various lands and convince everyone to just get along already and join you to beat him. Very similar to the amazing Death Gate, this is mostly an inventory-based game that requires the right amount of magic and special skills fitting of the world you’re in. Better yet, allies will join you and sometimes you have to work in conjunction to solve puzzles. Fans of RPGs will be disappointed, though, as the actual turn-based combat in the game is incredibly dumbed-down and present more for storytelling purposes than to present any challenge.
The graphic interface, like most Legend games, has that classic way-too-busy Geocities look going for it. You would think a game so simple wouldn’t require this many frames and could have been opened up to larger, higher-resolution graphics. Sadly, the visuals seems a bit drab for 1995. I actually pulled two of the better screenshots from the game for this review. They’re not terrible, but not as evocative as they could have been. I will give props to the people in charge of the music, though. Legend always did well in that department.
The story itself is fine, if not memorable. The game never pushes the boundaries of the genre and what’s left is safe and predictable. The puzzles are occasionally fun and mostly easy. The seasoned adventurer shouldn’t take more than a handful of hours to get through it. Not a must-play for either the adventure gamer or fans of Terry Brooks, but certainly recommended as long as you temper your expectations.