Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor
for PC (DOS)

Mr Creosote:
Company: SSI
Year: 1993
Genre: RPG
Theme: Fighting / Sword & Sorcery
Language: English, Deutsch
Licence: Commercial
Views: 8782
Review by Mr Creosote (2018-05-26)

The black sheep of the Eye of the Beholder series… as everybody knows well, Westwood Studios, developers of the first two games and everybody's darling, had no involvement in this third part. This alone seems to be reason enough for much of the fandom to regard Assault on Myth Drannor as an atrocity or at least thoroughly disappointing. Is it true just because everybody keeps repeating this mantra?

For sure, the game does a number of things to confirm such opinions, starting with the title screen being reused from a previous game. Or the game proper beginning in a forest looking strikingly similar to the one veterans already knew. This forest being much larger, however, and not for the better. So large, so confusing and mazey (with tons of hidden passages where trees have to be cut or burned down to open up new paths which even close again behind the player's party) that most players will likely never be able to get past it. Having only seen this part of the game, it is understandable that the conclusion must be negative.

Reaching the titular city of Myth Drannor and subsequently the mage's tower, level design improves somewhat. Sure, the city is a bit of a missed opportunity, as it is really not much of a city: the game never manages to create the impression of having streets, houses, squares etc. arranged in a way that anyone could live there. Honestly speaking, none of the previous games had anything like that, either, but it would have been a chance to go beyond those. The mage's tower then being pretty much what Darkmoon previously had to offer. Speaking of Darkmoon, monster design certainly is on par with that game. Unfriendly encounters are not all that frequent, but when they occur, it is usually with imaginatively designed creatures which are really tough. Tough enough to wipe out the whole party if the player is not careful. Good thing that the characters' starting level allows for pretty advanced cleric and mage spells already…

In true SSI tradition (think of the Gold box RPGs), EOB III doesn't show a lot of innovation. There is an “all attack” button saving some clicks in the stressful battles. Characters standing in the second row can use polearms to attack. Nicely drawn pictures between the levels and on encounters are a little more frequent. NPCs offering to join the party have some interesting special abilities not previously seen. Nothing groundbreaking and automapping is still painfully absent.

Lack of innovation per se isn't a bad thing. This game's downfall is really with the fact that its designers chose to begin it in the worst possible way, by forcing the player into a truly horrible level which simply isn't any fun, but which is nevertheless important to fully explore since without the bonus equipment to be found and character experience to be gained there, it will just become too hard later on. If it weren't for that, it wouldn't be any worse than its fabled, ultra-popular predecessor. You just need to get past the forced innovation paradigm, which really shouldn't be that hard to do 25 years later. Though I fear my voice will be droned out by the endless repetition of common prejudice…

Comments (2) [Post comment]

Is it one thing this game does good, that is the music using a Roland MT-32. The sound in the intro is superb, even in some places in the game, some small sound cues that just are marvelous to listen to. I sometimes only boot up this game for the music in the intro :)