The Quest for Glory series, designed by the husband and wife team of Lori and Corey Cole and initially published in 1990, is a bit of an oddball amongst Sierra's adventure titles. Although similar in appearance, they're less like point-and-click adventures and more like RPGs that happen to be dressed in adventure game clothing.
The main concept of Quest for Glory is evident through the subtitle of the first game: So You Want to be a Hero? In each of the five games you play a character whose job is to travel the world of Gloriana, saving the inhabitants from evil. Each of the five games takes place in a different part of the world: the first takes place in the Germanic land of Spielburg, with a bit of a traditional medieval flavor; the second is in the Middle Eastern land of Shapeir, with an Arabic flair; the third takes place in the Africa-like land of Tarna; the fourth in the Transylvania-esque land of Mordavia; and the fifth and final is in Silmaria, heavily resembling Ancient Greece. It's clear that the Coles had a vague overarching plan for the series from the get-go, which strengthens the ties between installments. It's amazing that they were actually able to finish their plans, given how many other gaming series get cut short.
The combat system changes from game to game, but fighting is always one-on-one.
There were originally four games planned - So You Want to Be a Hero, Trial by Fire, Shadows of Darkness, and Dragon Fire. However, after the second game, the Coles deviated from their initial plan to create another title, Wages of War. The series then continued as planned, and ended with the release of Dragon Fire in 1998. Each game was to represent one of the four cardinal directions, one of the four elements, and one of the four seasons, although this was somewhat thrown off with Wages of War. Each also has a unique setting, complete with interesting characters to meet, good and bad. Many real life folk tales and myths are also woven into the story. The main plots rarely go beyond the usual "find and conquer an evil demon", but what makes them so interesting are the unique plights of the townspeople, and how you save them.
This epic feel, complemented with the fantastically designed game world, is largely what makes the Quest for Glory series so interesting. In the first game, you stay at an inn run by a group of cat people called Katta. In the second game you travel with them to their homeland of Shapeir. So whenever you see any of the Katta in the rest of the series, you can say, hey, I've seen where these guys come from! Many other elements remain consistent throughout all of the games too - nearly all of the lands have an Adventurer's Guild, which acts as a starting point for each quest, and provides a place for training, as well as a logbook to sign. Each country you visit also has a different form of currency, so the first thing you need to do (at least in the first few games) is to hunt down a money exchanger so you can actually purchase some goods. One particularly important recurring theme is the presence of the great hero Erana, an elf who traveled the world many years before, and seems to have completely disappeared. In almost all of the games you'll find an area blessed by her powers, which act as a safe haven for your hero to rest. All of these elements converge in Dragon Fire, where characters and events from the previous installments come together to form a rewarding finale.
Quest for Glory also has a distinctive sense of humor. Though not quite as off the wall as, say, Space Quest, the developers clearly have an affinity for goofy puns, pop culture references, and British humour, particularly Monty Python and Douglas Adams. Like most Sierra games, plenty of the death scenes have some pretty funny messages and are usually worth seeing, just for the chuckle. If you're a Thief, you can type "pick nose" or use a lock pick - if you're Lock Picking skill is high enough, you'll actually gain some skill points (and clear your nasal passages), but if it's too low, you'll end up getting a brain hemorrhage and killing yourself. Oops.
The only consistent downside to the series is that they've often been very buggy. They're much more complicated than the average Sierra adventure, featuring random elements and non-linear play, so some were released before being properly tested. You can find patches for all of the titles, some fan made, although they don't necessarily fix all of the issues. Just save often!
QFGII squeezes in a Casablanca and a Monty Python reference in the same screen.
The open worlds are reminiscent of the early King's Quest games, with one main town center and a fairly large, non-linear world to explore. Your specific goals usually aren't apparent when you first begin, but you'll soon learn after talking to the townspeople, or checking out the local Adventurer's Guild for people in need. Most of the main storylines involve conquering a number of trials before moving on to the final segment of the game. There are usually also additional subquests that can improve your stats, give you extra items or money, or even change the ending.
The biggest influence on how you play is determined by your character class. As a Fighter, you are more well suited to combat, and can simply choose brute force methods to conquer many of the puzzles. As a Thief, you're a bit slyer, preferring a stealthy approach. As a Magician, you can just use your magic spells, provided you've learned the appropriate one. Starting with the third game, there's also the "hidden" Paladin class, which is much like a Fighter but with extra abilities, and some additional subquests to conquer. You can also choose your character's name, although his official title, per the authorized strategy guide, is Devon Aidendale.
Each problem usually has multiple solutions. If you need gold, as a Fighter, you might simply wander through the land and destroy enemies to take their cash. As a Thief, it might be better to just wait until night and break into some houses, or take on some jobs for the local Thieves Guild. As a Fighter, if you're strong enough, you can break down doors. As a Thief, you can pick the lock. As a Magician, you can just cast an Open spell. The puzzles in Quest for Glory are quite different from other adventure games, because they're usually pretty direct and logical. The most difficult element is hunting down or finding the items you'll need, and you might not even need them, depending on your character's skills. Additionally, while there are still death scenes, they aren't as random and frustrating as other games. They're usually because you died in combat or did something particularly stupid. There are also very few cases where the games can become unwinnable if you forget to grab a certain object (except for one easy-to-miss thing in Quest for Glory II).
It's also possible to create hybrid characters. At the beginning of each game you can allocate a number of skill points to various statistics, including Strength (which determines your attacking power), Vitality (stamina), and Magic, as well as other skills like Climbing, Lock Picking, and Stealth. Normally you can increase these skills in five point increments, but you can also spend fifteen points to give your character a skill they might not normally have. This way, you can create a Fighter that can pick locks, or a Thief with magic skills. Some of the games still have specific paths for each character (for instance, you may not be able to use certain spells unless you're a Magician, even if you've granted Magic skills to another character class), but it does allow you to diversify a bit. Once you've learned a skill, you can increase it simply by performing the action over and over. There aren't technically any experience levels, but you gain Strength, Vitality, and Weapon Use stats by fighting in combat. You can also repeatedly throw stones to build up your Throwing stat, or repeatedly try to climb something to build up your Climbing skill. It's a bit silly that you might need to stop for a few moments and repeat a single action over and over just so you can proceed, but it's much less tedious than the level grinding found in other RPGs.
Each game has battle scenes, although you can mostly avoid them, depending on your character. Although the specific battle system changes from game to game, they're usually one-on-one scenes fought in real time. They're all pretty sloppy, and their outcome is more based on your statistics than mouse-clicking skills, but there's rarely any situation where things get too difficult and you can't just run off, to then gain some higher stats.
Once you finish any of the games, you can save your character and import them directly into any of the sequels, keeping all of their statistics. You can change their class if you wish, too. With each game, the default stats for the hero go up. In the first game, when you're a newbie, the levels for most skills are pretty low, with about 10 or 20 points in each skill. By the time the fifth and final game rolls around, you average is around 300. If you play the entire series from scratch, in order, you see your hero start out as a rookie, slowly save land after land, gain a reputation, and become far more powerful than when you started.
The series was originally known as Hero's Quest. However, once it was published, Sierra ran into some problems with Milton Bradley, who had already created a board game of the same name. Sierra then changed it to Quest for Glory and rereleased it. All subsequent games used the Quest for Glory moniker.
In the downtime between Quest for Glory IV and V, the Coles created Shanarra for Legend Entertainment, based on Terry Brooks' fantasy series, although it really can't touch the majesty of the QfG series. At least they managed to wrap up the series, after it appeared that it would be left dangling after QFG4. In recent years, they've been working on the School for Heroes, which continues the universe set up by the Quest for Glory games.
Everything.com - Quest for Glory Some cool trivia about the first game.
AGD Interactive Home of the QFG2 remake.
Kev's Lounge A review of the QFG2 remake.
Adventure Classic Gamers Tons of reviews, including several for Quest for Glory.
Quest for More Glory An excellent (and more modern) fan site.
Adventure of Quest for Glory Japanese fan site.
Quest for Glory: Trouble with Names Highlights some of the name changes through the series.
Quest for Glory (IBM PC)
Quest for Glory (IBM PC)
Quest for Glory I (IBM PC)
Quest for Glory I (IBM PC)
Quest for Glory II
Quest for Glory II
Quest for Glory III
Quest for Glory III
Quest for Glory IV
Quest for Glory V