Review

Quest for Infamy Review (PC)

Infamous Quests – the brains behind Quest for Infamy – set out on their journey with a noble goal: to craft a title informed by their favourite experiences of yesteryear, a spiritual successor to the old school adventure games of the late 80s/90s. While they’ve achieved their objective in many respects, the puerile undertones – particularly with regards to Infamy’s portrayal of women – detract heavily from their overall vision.

Quest for Infamy sticks resolutely to a blueprint established by Sierra’s classic Quest for Glory series which saw release during the home console period of gaming. As such, you’re presented with an authentic experience but one that bears all the imperfections that have since been ironed out or bettered as the genre has evolved. Unless you’re a staunch adherent of this period of gaming, these shortcomings are likely to invite some frustration along the way.

Infamy’s hand-drawn style looks quite charming at times

Infamy spins the yarn of Mister Roehm, a raffish, hirsute man with a penchant for semi-humourous wisecracks. Running away from a disreputable past, Roehm chances upon the town of Volksville – the base of operations throughout your adventure. It’s very much a picaresque narrative, reversing the polarity of your typical hero by straying away from the traditional paragon of virtue archetype.

While Roehm might be a little rough around the edges, Infamy is a whimsical adventure, laced with Monty Python-esque humour. This comical tone is established from the prologue, where you’re caught in a coital state by your lover’s father and forced to leap out the window to evade capture. Hitching a ride on the back of a local farmer’s cart, you navigate your way to Volksville and the beginning of your quest.

Within the walls of Volksville reside a colourful cast of characters who are afflicted by some truly dreadful voices. No doubt that’s intended as part of the charm – with the dodgy approximations of particular accents reinforcing the caricatures they portray – yet their grating nature makes it difficult not to reach for the mute button.

The voice acting, however, plays second fiddle to the controls as the most irritating feature you’ll encounter early on. In the name of fidelity, Infamy adopts a tiered control system (akin to Quest for Glory’s) whereby you use the mouse scroller to swap between walk, interact, talk, observe and item functions – instead of tying these actions to a singular mouse click. It’s an utterly counter-intuitive system that makes simply talking to an NPC an arduous task.

Moving from one section of the map to the next is equally as fiddly. Dragging your protagonist to the periphery of each screen allows you to transition to the next area. Consequently, it’s quite easy to inadvertently click out of the game window and onto your computer desktop, and conversely, quite difficult to coerce Roehm into navigating the world.

Combat in Infamy is as tedious as it looks

This lack of care filters through into the combat, which is dictated partly by the class path (Brigand, Rogue or Sorcerer) you elect to go down – which is, in turn, determined by which mentor you decide to work under. Should you choose to befriend Kurdt – the stereotypical beefy bruiser – then your skillset will be flavoured accordingly, with an emphasis on melee attacks.

Brigand’s have five combat options at their disposal: hack, slash, stab, block and heal. With fights taking place on a 2D plane, there appears to be no discernible difference between the modes of attack, as you randomly input commands to down a motionless enemy. A three-second timer for each move tries to engender some tension but really there isn’t any. Frankly, it’s as unengaging as it gets.

As an adventure game that places a premium on its narrative, you might be able to look past Infamy’s primitive combat. What is harder to turn a blind eye to, however, is the equally primitive and archaic portrayal of women.

At some point in the story, you‘ll chance upon the white-walled city of Tyr – a fortress resembling those that Daenerys Targaryen stormed in the third season of Game of Thrones. Standing sentry outside Tyr is a legion of scantily clad females, adorned in metallic underwear. Their leader, Voleris, informs you that the city is closed, after which you’re afforded the opportunity to not-so subtly imply that you’d like disrobe the crimson-haired vixen.

Chainmail underwear. No, really

Attempt to interact with Voleris after your conversation and a tragic line of text appears: “there’s nothing you would like more than to touch her”. Such wilful objectification of women is wholly unacceptable, yet unfortunately, it’s a theme that perpetuates throughout the game, with the game’s narrator espousing the role of perverted overseer.

It’s a shame that Infamy devolves into such juvenile practices as there are some nice flourishes on display – for instance, the hand-drawn aesthetic lends a quaint, homely feel to adventuring that feels refreshing in light of the grandeur that western RPGs typically strive for – yet it’s impossible to root for a game that makes such a critical misstep.

Most Memorable Moment: The sudden realisation that the combat was as simplistic as it first appeared.

Videos

Comments

By blackthorne519 (I just got here) on Jul 10, 2014
blackthorne519
Hey there! Sorry you were put off about certain aspects of the game. We actually tried to play with that trope at first, and if you'd played further into the game, you'd see how none of that actually pans out for the "cad" and the women here end up saving the day, quite literally. For me, as the writer, it was about skewering expectations in the fantasy world - and growth, even for a character like Roehm who is supposed to be "infamous". It's a dangerous area to tread, when playing around with that trope, but it's definitely something I tried to satirize and turn on it's head, not glorify. Thanks for taking the time to play and write a review up, though - I appreciate it.
By splicer666 (I just got here) on Jul 10, 2014
splicer666
Seeing how James Barnes can't spell "infamy" and feels that right-clicking through icons is an "arduous" task, while engaging in moral preening instead of writing an objective review, I would take this all with a grain of salt.

I am stunned that James Barnes was even hired to write for Strategy Informer. The entire videogame industry (not to mention movies and our media in general) objectifies women and uses sex as a selling point.

And you're shocked by this???

Quest for Infamy satirizes this concept, and it differentiates itself from the older Sierra games (besides Leisure Suit Larry) by having adult themes, and this is one of its strengths. It gives the game more character.

James Barnes, maybe you should go back to playing with your dollhouse and leave journalism to those who can actually detect satire.

Then again, you could be a movie critic for animated family films. That seems to be more up your alley.
By Voqar (SI Core Veteran) on Jul 10, 2014
Voqar
I feel sad that some day the entire world my be neutered by political correctness and the boring concervative minded bunglings that want to inflict this on everyone.

I'm also saddend when people review based on impressions and don't really know what they're talking about - not that this is an original idea. So-called reviewers do this often enough with games/genres they don't like and get forced to review.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jul 10, 2014
SirRoderick
Personally, I am shocked that everyone seems to think chain bikini women in games is something we should all embrace because "it's been like that for ever" like no one is allowed to be put off by it because of that.

A purile and "demeaning" portrayal of women is at the very least a reason a person might be turned off from a game (like the reviewer, whose job it is to put forth his opinion, not pander to gaming culture). It's not about political correctness, it's far more complicated than that. If this puts off the reviewer then it puts off other people as well. To those people it is important information and AS ALWAYS you should read multiple reviews by different people that may have different opinions and explanations, so you can form your own idea about the game.

And frankly everything else in the review WITHOUT the contentious woman-demeaning point that always brings out the very worst dregs of both sides of the argument still justifies it getting critisised. Simplistic combat, bad interfaces and just questionable game design is what you read reviews for. Don't act like because you disagree with one perceived negative point that everything else is no longer valid. You can agree with some parts of a review and disagree with others, if you're a sane person that is.

P.S.
The first two comments are like a "dos and don'ts". First one is respectful and offers a suggested different perspective in a reasonable way, contributing to a discussion. Second one is a massive personal attack which immediately invalidates any otherwise valid argument that might be in there.

The first person you can have a discussion with, the second one will never accomplish anything.
By Hammerjinx (SI Core) on Jul 11, 2014
Hammerjinx
Satire can be a tricky thing. I like my satire very dry, which often leads to misunderstandings. When it comes to controversial issues I tend to only go dry when alone with close friends and family, and instead use hyperbole when I must make a joke in public (which, often, I must). Having not played the game I cannot say whether I'd side with the review, or with blackthorne, but given that the review has missed the point the devs were going for there is a good chance that the satire was either a little too subtle, or miss-stepped on a few beats.

I wouldn't discount playing the game. I'd be interested to see what I thought about it, given the discrepancy.

I'd also like to say, I really like a dev that takes the time to post a comment on a review, when done respectfully, so kudos for that!

The second comment is prolly also someone on the dev team. Sounds like they took the review entirely too personally for someone who wasn't emotionally invested in the game. Seriously? Framing an argument against the review because of a typo up the top? Mousewheel cycling *is* an ordeal in this modern, context sensitive clicking world. "Arduous" might be pushing the boundary a little, but you can chalk that up to satire, perhaps.

The only thing I'll say from my limited exposure to the game is this; The kerning on "Voleris" is like a knife in my eye. It's like it's trying to make up it's mind between "Voleris" and "Voler is", and failing.
By Barnes92 (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
Barnes92
Hi all.

I'd just finished composing a lengthy reply to a lot of these points but subsequently lost the message and don't have the heart/time to re-type it.

In summary, although I don't doubt the intentions were not malicious, I believe the guise of satire is a weak source of validation.

Ironic sexism is only satire if it challenges the bigotry. I don't see how barely clothed, buxom females subjected to perverse narration and dialogue add anything to the discourse.

But feel free to disagree, this is but one bloke's opinion. But keep the nasty stuff to yourself.

I'll also like to add that I really appreciate the comments from blackthorne, SirRoderick and Hammerjinx.
By splicer666 (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
splicer666
Good god. Stop beating around the bush and trying to sound mature. And stop the ass kissing you guys are making me cringe. Of course blackthorne is gonna be polite this is PR.
The reviewer gave the game a score of 30! Based mostly on his emotional overreaction to sexual themes. That is unprofessional.

When I beat this game I felt disappointed. It needed more content. The combat lacks depth. But the writing, voice acting and characters was my favorite part. The portraits are excellent, especially Ina. I'm amazed at how easily people are offended. Making a big deal over some crass jokes. I sure won't be recommending strategy informer to anyone.
By blackthorne519 (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
blackthorne519
Well, much of our art was inspired by artists like Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo - if you're unfamiliar with their work, you can easily see much of it on the internet. Voleris is a tribute to that - and yes, I do believe she is a full and interesting character, especially if you play the game to completion.

Everyone's mileage may vary; this reviewer didn't care for it, but it's not the case with everyone. I just wanted to state my intentions and my case as the writer. Splicer666 isn't a member of my team, as far as I know, but I do think he makes some salient points.

I do find it interesting that you judge the characters on who they are just by looking at them and deciding that being barely clothed and buxom in anyway denigrates their characters and their actions. Judging a book by it's cover, as they say, is a two way street.

Thanks for the civil discourse everyone. Discussing these matters like civilized beings is ultimately more enjoyable than flinging poo, n'est-ce pas?
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Jul 11, 2014
Gale47
Having reviewed the game myself, I strongly disagree with the points the reviewer here has taken as the game's weaknesses. From the get go, it's pretty damn clear that the game doesn't take itself too seriously and that it's all one big satire on the classical fantasy tropes. Especially regarding the depiction of women, since they end up being the real heroes here AND remain the main source of concrete information throught the adventure.

Still, I can understand that even the reviews are subjective and that some people simply don't like the game as it is.
Cheers to the dev for being awesome!
By Hammerjinx (SI Core) on Jul 11, 2014
Hammerjinx
Hm, so that makes it seem a bit more like the review either entirely missed the point, or does not feel that misogyny is an appropriate target for satire.

Imma prolly check this out one day.
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Jul 11, 2014
Gale47
My suggestion would be to do that. I've had quite a good run with it, and if you check out other reviews across the Web you'll find people giving it an average of 8/10, in most cases.

We gave it a well deserved 82/100, but if there weren't some sound issues, the score would be higher. I won't be linking nor mentioning the website's name for obvious reasons, but I do suggest getting more opinions on this game.

Also, good to see you guys again :D

EDIT: Just one more thing - the combat isn't tedious. Not even by modern adventure game standards. Check the gameplay out.
By El_Guapo (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
El_Guapo
I was looking for where I could find a brain for the necromancer when I stumbled across this: there are not enough faces to be palmed in existence to cover this review...

First of all, in the first 10 seconds of the game, your character is being chased out of a castle for attempting to seduce the Baron's daughter. If that didn't kinda set the TONE of the game for you, I don't know what could. Maybe it would've taken Mr. Roehm shooting a goblin bounty hunter under a table with a crossbow before you got the picture? This man is a SCOUNDREL, and that's the ENTIRE point of the game!

Second, did you REALLY walk into a town where a mayor with a bit of a "James Bond supervillain" vibe to him laughs about how easy on the eyes his scantily-clad army of warrior women are...and your SATIRE alarm didn't off? No? Really?

When one of your friends cracks a "Your mom" joke, does your blood run cold because you believe he's serious?

This is like when Penny Arcade pointed out that a reviewer who hates RPGs probably shouldn't have been reviewing Wild Arms.

The game is great, and is actually somewhat easier than the Sierra games of old where you would sometimes need to "think outside the box" which actually meant trying something insane because they wanted to sell you the strategy guide.

The wrong reviewer would call Tetris "A dismal commentary of the inevitability of death at the end of a life spent trying to find a place to put all of the falling blocks that represent the hardship in our lives", just like the wrong reviewer will completely miss the point of a game that's supposed to make us laugh about the fact that tropes like the ones in QFI were ever accepted in the first place.

Please, SI, get someone else to review this, preferably someone who knows what SATIRE is. If anything, you could argue that this game is a send-up of the misogynistic games of old where we laugh about how far we've come.

I do have one major criticism of the game. My least favorite part is the voice acting (my favorite part being the music, seriously, wow) but not because of the performances (some sound a bit dry, but you could argue that there are dry people in the world ergo it's only logical you should encounter some in game).

No, my criticism of the voice acting is that I hear LOTS of breaths, P-pops and smacking noises, and once you've locked onto those, it's hard to not notice them. I realize this was an indie game, but I would've held the VOs to a bit higher standard and probably edited out the breaths and smacks. There's one mouth smack on one of the narrator's lines that plays right at the beginning of when I try to grab something and he tells me I cannot. If I click quickly, I just hear "smack, smack, smack".

It doesn't mar my enjoyment of the game, though. I'm more than happy with my $20 purchase.

PS. Where do I get a brain for the necromancer? Is is somewhere in the mine?

PPS. I wonder what this guy's review of "The Witcher" would be like, since that seems to be an ACTUAL misogynistic game that isn't satirizing itself...
By blackthorne519 (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
blackthorne519
Brain for the necromancer? Well, there was an execution right at the start of the game, and Rayford was kind enough to stick his head on a pole outside the gate! Perhaps a knife or a saw could help you procure a brain?
By El_Guapo (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
El_Guapo
Ahhhhh okay. I tried stabbing it a second time and got yelled at for it. That makes more sense.

Also, as to the review, anything below a 5/10 typically denotes a game that has some serious quality control issues, where a 1 is the game being barely playable and 5 is being riddled with bugs but you can finish it.
By splicer666 (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
splicer666
If our friend Mr Barnes watched an episode of Southpark he might die from a heart attack
By blackthorne519 (I just got here) on Jul 11, 2014
blackthorne519
Ah, guys - no need to attack the reviewer, really. It is his opinion, which is to say a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Gale, another reviewer, came in and offered a different point of view. We got a really good review from a female author on Gamezebo who has a different perspective than the author of this article. Obviously, there are people playing my game and - well - at this point talking about the game and giving hints will do all of us more good!
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Jul 12, 2014
Gale47
One thing to El_Guapo: Duuuuude. Dude. The Witcher is definitely NOT a misogynistic game. Geralt has a very specific relationship with some women who have major roles in the storyline. The fact that he's a womanizer is present in the books (even more so than in the games), and is an important part of his personality. The whole point of the game is to stay true to the source material, so there was no room to ignore this fact. Not trying to attack or anything, just wanted to clear this up in case someone gets the wrong idea from your PPS :D
Cheers, mate.
By El_Guapo (I just got here) on Jul 12, 2014
El_Guapo
Oh, hmm...

I never played it but heard about the part where you sleep with women and collect trading cards of them, kinda like virtual belt-notching.

Still, never played it so I can't REALLY judge...
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Jul 12, 2014
Gale47
It's a brilliant RPG and one of my favourite franchises.

You do get a "card" of sorts that serves as a reminder, and you could say they are used as trophies of sorts, but yeah, he's a womanizer. It's in his blood.
I suggest reading The Last Wish or playing through one of the games to get in touch with Geralt's character. He seemed obnoxious to me in many ways before I actually played the game. Now, he's my favourite fictional protagonist. You won't be sorry :)
By The_Tingler (SI Core) on Jul 16, 2014
The_Tingler
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/07/16/wot-i-think-quest-for-infamy/

Just to show that James isn't standing alone on the reviewer's front, especially in the "boobs for the sake of boobs" department.

And while I love The Witcher, even CD Projekt admit that those Sex Cards were totally stupid. They're not in Witcher 2. And the Witcher games most definitely justify the sexiness. Quest For Infamy doesn't.
By sickfiction (I just got here) on Jul 22, 2014
sickfiction
As the narrator in question, the responses are given to your actions. It is entirely possible to play this game without being insulted constantly if the player does not perform "stupid" actions. The responses are there if you do, and are as snarky as they come. The game rewards you for good and clever moves as much as it derides you for dumb ones. Oh and if you hadn't tried to "Touch" Voleris, you wouldn't have gotten a perverted response. But it was programmed in, in case you were. Aside from the sexy-fantasy artwork (designed and drawn by a female might I add) All the females in this game hold their own, are tremendously well respected by the other characters and don't take any crap from Mr Roehm. Having dealt with around 5000 lines of dialogue myself, I know these characters inside and out.
By Gale47 (SI Core) on Jul 23, 2014
Gale47
And that's a burn right there.