Although many elements of the traditional 'hack-and-slash' dungeon crawler are evident in Anvil of Dawn, DreamForge Intertainment, Inc. has enhanced the experience by creating a large "outside" environment as well. You'll forge your way through the 3D rendered land of Tempest in between your lengthy visits to various monster-inhabited locations, that while called something else, are basically dungeons in disguise. A rich and full storyline follows your character as you fight the evil that has darkened the land and you make your way to the final confrontation with a god turned bad, The Overlord. Anvil of Dawn doesn't break any new ground in the fantasy role playing genre but it does consolidate some of the better features of earlier games such as Menzoberranzan, Lands of Lore, and the Ravenloft series. A slick auto-mapping capability, a random map generator that provides new challenges, digitized speech, and a fine mix of spells, monsters and other characters mesh to make Anvil of Dawn a better than average RPG. An endearing quality of the game is the sleek, easy (for novices) to use and learn interface and smooth transition from adventuring screens (3D landscapes) to the battlegrounds (dungeon-type environments). In fact, the interface comes with an option that allows full screen play while making the icon-driven interface invisible.
That's not to say that the game isn't without flaws, however minor they may be. The largest criticism that can be levied is the lack of innovation -- as you proceed through the game, you have the feeling you've seen this or been there before. Although the story is unique to the land of Tempest, it's still standard RPG stuff in the same "save the kingdom from evil" mind-set. Beyond that, Anvil of Dawn contains enough role-playing action to satisfy most fans of the genre.
The graphics are a bit outdated by late 1990s standards yet convey enough of an other world atmosphere to make you cognizant of the fact that this isn't Kansas. Indeed, fire up Anvil of Dawn and you immediately get thrust into the middle of a dark and foreboding world rife with danger and adventure. The easy and fluid manner in which the game starts results in a minimal learning curve -- you should be enmeshed quickly in your world saving quest. You'll interact with over a hundred non-player characters during your journeys and be challenged at various levels of difficulty when faced with puzzles or traps to circumnavigate. Each of the five possible characters you can choose as your screen alterego come with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses which augurs well for replay possibilities (as does the random map generator). Ranging from a wizard with powerful magic but wimpy physical attributes to the opposite extreme, a female amazon with great strength but next to useless magical skills, you'll want to choose your character wisely. Other types include a thief, warrior, and, the most balanced, the indigenous Mirelurk. Anvil of Dawn stands as a stout entrant in the fantasy role-playing genre.
Graphics: Effective 3D environment but dated by late nineties' standards. Overall, the graphics exude a reasonable atmospheric background in depicting a dark and dismal land, besieged by evil.
Sound: Very nice fully orchestrated sound track which enhances game play throughout the game. Digitized speech is no more than adequate in most cases but at least the characters speak.
Enjoyment: For fans of the fantasy role-playing genre, Anvil of Dawn will not disappoint. There is enough adventuring, dungeon crawling, and monster bashing to go along with the interesting storyline to keep the most intrepid gamer busy for quite a while.
Replay Value: Once the quest is completed, a replay won't unearth any more big surprises. However, playing through the game an additional time or two with different characters can make it worthwhile.
Anvil of Dawn was one of the last "non 3D" first person role-playing games (i.e. Eye of the Beholder).
The player starts out by picking from one of five characters (two female, two male and one lizard!). The player then proceeds to training with a wizard who teaches the player a basic spell in the discipline of the player's choice (earth, wind, fire, water, lightning). The party then sets off on a quest to destroy an evil warlord. The adventure will take the player through castles, dungeons and shipwrecks.
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