Capsule Review: Legend of Kyrandia: The Hand of Fate

A comedic and kid-friendly old-school point-and-click adventure. Puzzles are based around a potion system - to advance past most roadblocks, you need to follow a recipe from your spellbook to make a specific potion. There are often red herrings in the form of some-but-not-all of the ingredients for a potion you don’t yet need to make (though your inventory is emptied between chapters to prevent you from hoarding these). There is also narrative use of this mechanical structure - including a potion you can never make but which environmental clues suggest someone else did.

The red herrings and unusable items are presumably to make the game feel more like finding emergent solutions to problems based on what’s around you, but the logic of these solutions is often tortured enough that you can’t really reverse-engineer it - instead, it becomes a game of collect-everything-and-see-what-potion-you-can-make-and-then-use-it-on-your-problem. Thankfully, that’s still fun, and seeing what ridiculous way your potion solves the problem is entertaining.

While there are some unfortunate instant-death situations, there aren’t many and they are mitigated by an autosave system. It also doesn’t seem possible to render the game unwinnable. Dialog is sometimes a bit confusing, as though lines had been cut without the others being rewritten, and it seems like the team ran out of time or money - early areas are sprawling, populated, and complex with many red herrings and multiple ways to solve many puzzles, while the last couple of areas are smaller and simpler and the final true puzzle is straight-up Tower of Hanoi, followed by an ill-advised action sequence. Still, there’s plenty of fun along the way.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the game once as a child and once as an adult. (You can watch the latter playthrough below, along with some thoughts I had about the game’s death mechanics.)

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.