The gameplay in Companions of Xanth closely follows the book from which it is based. You assume the role of someone who has just bought a new computer game. As you begin to play it, you slowly get sucked into your computer, winding up in the world of Xanth. It seems two demons are struggling for power and that one of them wants to destroy magic for good in the peaceful land. You'll have to choose a companion to help guide you through this magical world, filled with puzzles, spells, and lots and lots of puns. The game is much like other Legend titles, featuring hand-drawn artwork and a point-and-click interface.
This game is an adaptation of Piers Anthony's fantasy novel Demons Don't Dream (included in some releases), taking place in his mystical and punny world of Xanth. Unlike Legend's previous parser-based adventures, this one is fully mouse-controlled. Commands such as "take", "give to" and "listen" are on the left of the screen, directional icons and an inventory are at the bottom, with an illustration of the current location taking up over half of the screen.
Two otherworldly and all-powerful demons are are competing with two unwitting human champions over the future of the land - if Dug wins, the magic Xanth will disappear forever. The player controls Dug, who is also fighting his friend Kim to avoid losing his girlfriend. To get through the game's puzzles and mazes, the player must also choose a Companion character and interact with them. Cutscenes drive the story along.
Companions of Xanth is a fantasy adventure game based on Piers Anthony's book series. You play the role of Dug, a young man whose friend challenges him to a bet: play a new computer game and try not to like it. While Dug may have liked it, I have mixed feelings.
The game starts out with you sitting at your desk. After a phone conversation with your friend, you can begin playing the game, and the first frustrating thing happens. You are asked to choose a companion to guide you through the game, the choice being between Nada the Naga, Che the Centaur, Metria the Demoness, or Jenny the Elf and her pet cat Sammy. While this may appear to be the beginning of some cool non-linear gameplay, in reality this choice is totally rigged, because if you pick anyone but Nada, you die before you leave the first room. Non-choices like this are all over the game, as well as several items you pick up that are never used and just take up space.
Like in the books, pretty much everything in this game is built around puns (yes, puns). For example, in the caverns of the Earth Realm, you come across a door that's partially open. When you click on it, the game tells you it's "a door ajar". If you click Take, it turns into a jar (the glass kind) and you put it into your inventory. While this is amusing at first, it just gets annoying after a while, and it raises a common argument against adventure games: the puzzles don't make sense (I found it impossible to beat the game without a walkthrough). In this case, the game seems to do it intentionally in order to keep up the pun-based gameplay, but if you judge it based on standard adventure game criteria, it doesn't hold up. This realm becomes even more frustrating because it is essentially one big maze. All the rooms look pretty much the same, so the only way to get through it is to use the map. It just felt like a massive waste of time.
However, there are some nice things I can say. The game uses the same interface as Super Hero League of Hoboken, so navigating through areas is very easy (unfortunately, this also means that you spend the whole game looking at pre-painted backgrounds with only some parts that animate, and some unfortunate Full Motion Video sequences). And, despite all of the game's flaws, my love for the books wouldn't permit me to hate it entirely. I may be totally biased, but I think an open mind and an interest in fantasy should be enough to find some enjoyment here.
Yes - I AM a fan of Piers Anthony. I've read most of his books and - of course - most of the Xanth-Saga. No need to say that I loved those books... I've heard that there was a game out, but all I was able to find was a text-adventure, which I lost during my big Harddisk-Crash (Dang!), but found again months later (it's up at our site - "A Journey into Xanth"). And then there it was, when I hadn't even searched for it... O.K., if you read the books you MUST download it, if not - give this game a try, you can play it without having read about Xanth (but I strongly recommend those books - they're FUN!!!).
Companions of Xanth is certainly an amusing game with bright and colourful graphics, lots of things to do, and a reasonably large game world to explore. The humour is gentle even if it is a little painful on occasions -- especially when it resorts to rather juvenile, though mild, sexual innuendo. Interestingly, this problem would not have arisen had the designers allowed us the choice of playing either Dug or Kim (what a good idea!) as many of these allusions simply would not be viable from Kim's perspective.
Though I do concede that the Xanth novels set the precedent for much of the humour, and you shouldn't let my quibbling about this put you off as the game is certainly enjoyable enough overall to keep you playing.
Companions of Xanth is a charming game based on Piers Anthony's "Demons Don't Dream," in which two humans compete for a prize without knowing that two demons are using them as tools in their own wager. Like the novels, puzzles are heavily pun-related in ways reminiscent of Infocom's Nord and Bert, but a lot easier. Most puzzles are also not related to the plot, and the game is far too easy. It's a fun game, but not up to par with other Legend releases. Recommended only for fans of the novel and novice adventurers.
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