The Record of Lodoss War: Advent of Cardice was a strange title for me. I purchased it went it first came out, but I was about 16 years old then, and was disappointed by its graphics, the fact that it didn’t play like the J-RPGs that I had become accustomed to playing, and the allure of newer Dreamcast games occupying my gaming time.
So, I traded it back to GameStop without second thought, and that was that. Fast forward to a few years later. I acquired Comcast cable and its anime “In Demand” channel where I could watch certain anime series’ at my leisure. To my surprise, The Record of Lodoss War was one such series.
I started watching it, being that I am a big Lord of the Rings fan, I loved the ‘Western Fantasy’ take of the series. Suddenly, I began to regret my decision of letting Advent of Cardice go.
It would be twenty years (from when I first purchased it) before I would go to amazon to purchase a copy of the game in order to play through it again.
Record of Lodoss War is a Diablo Clone
It is, it plays almost exactly the same with its over head view camera, and hack and slash focus on combat. This might have been the reason why I originally shunned it. I was in love with Ocarina of Time, and even though Record of Lodoss War had higher-res textures, and improved visual clarity over Nintendo’s masterpiece, the improvements were mainly consequential to the Dreamcast being a powerhouse (in comparison to 1996’s Nintendo 64).
Apart from the technical improvements brought about by the hardware, Ocarina of Time was infinitely the more visually pleasing, and engrossing game because of its free camera and the fact that you weren’t confined to an over head view (like in RoLW).
Ocarina of Time was the precursor to the modern open world RPG (which is currently, by far, my favorite genre), and Record of Lodoss War, was a “Diablo” clone set in the anime’s compelling universe. Personally, I have always preferred the former game’s style which certainly influenced my decision of trading the game 20 years ago.
In my older age, however, I have come to appreciate it. It is a challenging game filled with monsters to slaughter, and armor, and materials to find. It’s world is gigantic, and open, you can pretty much head into any direction, and can get a bit lost if you are not careful.
Record of Lodoss War is a tough game. It can easily take 60-80 hours to reach the finish line. Battling for hours on end in action-RPGs isn’t as tedious as battling is in most turn-based ones. Hacking, slashing, blocking, etc. in real time is, by nature, a more interactive experience than choosing ‘menu’ commands.
However, constantly fighting in RoLW did get tedious in as early as the game’s 20 hour mark. The reason is that the game isn’t very rewarding towards players. It doesn’t pay (as well as it should) to mow down the legions of darkness, as levels gained only boost your HP, and you have to constantly visit the black smith in order to enhance your equipment (with compromised inventory spaces).
Yet, as usual, mowing down the Legions of Darkness for hours on end is the only way to attain enough HP, and Mithrill to craft powerful weapons in order to defeat the hellish bosses. Also, be sure to be stocked up in healing potions (refill stations are conveniently placed by most save points, thankfully). Slashing and healing is key, as things can quickly turn on you on a dime (in seconds) making some of these battles a very nerve racking experience (especially against mobs of enemies).
It Relies on the Anime’s Universe to Carry the Day, but Loses its Charm in the Translation
While the game’s story is simple: Your are a hero resurrected by a Wizard to defeat the evil goddess Cardice. The game features cameos from main characters, and some interesting dialog choices when interacting with said iconic cast (the exchange with Deedlit in particular is memorable). The entire thing takes place in the island of Marmo.
However, for a game focused in heavy combat, dungeon crawling, and mithrill (coupled with plaques) collection (for weapon upgrades) for the game’s blacksmith. The story is actually quite good, and you do get to face some interesting villains.
For obvious reasons, given this game’s ‘Diablo’ format, a lot of the character development that makes the show an awesome watch was lost on the translation from anime to video game (this might have been title better served for usual JRPG template), but the Storyline is serviceable, as long as you are not expecting something along the lines of Skies of Arcadia.
It was nice to come into this after watching the anime, as it made the cameos from beloved characters such as Parn, and Deedlit feel special (and somewhat rewarding).
Sounds, and Visuals of Yesteryear
This was expected, the game is 21 years old. The problem that the Record of Lodoss War: Advent of Cardice has (and had) is that it looked pedestrian even back in 2000. As I stated before, Ocarina of Time looked worlds better, and the less said about its direct competitors on the Dreamcast the better.
Record of Lodoss War was not a game that showcased the Dreamcast’s horse power. To say that the game looked like a higher-res PlayStation 1 game, wouldn’t be far from the truth. But given its pedestrian looks (and sounds), one would expect flawless performance. Sadly, this is not the case.
Run into a mob of enemies and the game slows down to a proverbial crawl, which actually hinders the gameplay, as you can lose track of what is going for the duration of the stutters which at times can prove fatal.
The visuals do their job (conveying a working world full of monsters) and ancient structures, but that’s it. Certainly, The Record of Lodoss War: Advent of Cardice is one of the worst looking DC games that I can think of.
Funnily enough, as a retro enthusiast (these days), I am less bothered by its visuals than I was 20 years ago.
Should you Give Record of Lodoss War a Try?
Do you like Diablo styled Action-RPGs? Do you like the Record of Lodoss War (anime)? Do you have a working Dreamcast? If the answer is ‘yes’ to all three of the questions, then by all means, go to amazon and purchase it.
I actually had fun with the game for long stretches. Battles could be frustrating at times, but there is some ‘Dark Souls lite’ satisfaction to be gained when clearing Marmo’s areas and defeating its hellish bosses.
The game’s plot was decent enough to hold my interest throughout (but I am a fan of the anime series), and the gameplay system works as well as one would hope a system such as this would work on a Diablo styled game.
I assume that there are some fans who played it, who truly loved the game, as it does have that type of ‘ only for the hardcore’ vibes throughout, and it is a ‘rare’ game these days.
Record of Lodoss: Advent of Cardice is worth a shot, but keep in mind that this is a 50-80 hour investment. This game is strictly for the retro/diablo hardcore crowd only, and that particular group of gamers should find much to like here.
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