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King Arthur's Knights - Origins of Excalibur

by Cryo Legend / Wanadoo

A review by Ulrich Wintrich   14th December 2000
(Many thanks to Marlene for her help and support)


"King Arthur's Knights - Origins of Excalibur" is already the third game of the Cryo-Legend series, so on one hand I was anxious, if Cryo has learned from the mistakes of the predecessors "Timemachine" and "Odyssee", on the other hand I was sceptical considering the fact, that a second part of the game has been announced for the middle of next year.


Britain in the Middle Ages after the decay of the Roman rule is in a desolate state between the ancient celtic customs and the growing christian belief. King Arthur and his knights are trying to reunite the devided kingdoms and at the same time ward off the barbaric attacks of the Saxons.

Bradwen - illegitimate son of a british king - wants to defend his family's destiny against his mean half-brother and successor to the throne and his allies, take up his place at the Round Table and through this obtain honour and justice.

Therefore he has to master five tasks, each task again devided into five to six chapters (ten in the end). Each task takes place at a main location with several sub-scenes: in the snowy winter landscape of the Atrebatian kingdom, the magic world of Avalon with fairies and gods, the mystic forest of the sorcerer of Arden, in the martial ruins and tombs of the dilapidated roman town Magovenium, at Tintagel fortress on the old roman road and in the camps of the intriguing kings and war leaders of Camelot.

Besides this there are some more locations and Bradwen has to wander around them. On his quest he has to deal with gods, fairies and sorcerers and also with the devil, black knights and bestial monsters.


Almost without exception you control the game by keyboard. Despite an extensive option menu you can't switch off sub-titles. With  new game software developers should, in my opinion, assume  that 99% of adventure gamers own a mouse as well as speakers.

With the inventory design the developers took something new into their heads. It consists of three parts - objects, subjects and destinations - controlled by mouse, which is a bit complicated to handle. The programmers seem to have had their problems with it too. Some more innovations should have been made at other parts of the game.

Bradwen is always moving within a 3rd-person-perspective. The 3D-graphics  uncontrollably whirl around him and couldn't be controlled actively as for example with Omni3D in "Atlantis" or "Faust". They are following the same algorithm known from "Timemachine" or "Odyssee", but throughout improved.

On the other hand movement-design is very imaginative indeed: you can use two different speed-levels when leaving one sequence to reach another (with Shift-key). Both, changing Bradwen's walking to running, and alternate from trot to gallop and back when horseriding, were not only technically transposed unobjectionable but also realized extremely imaginative and with great expense.

Sound and graphics

Renouncing almost any musical accompaniment, enormous efforts were set into creating sounds and noises, which contribute so deeply to the outstanding atmosphere and mood of the game. The howling wolves, buzzing butterflies, hammering wrought iron, grunting monsters, jumping fishes or swinging fairies - all contribute to this most capital ambiente.

The graphics again are pure eye-candy and don't have to hide behind the great graphic art formerly designed by Arxel Tribe. Nevertheless the graphics appear coarse grained and pixeled when looking close due to the used software. So they could hardly stand a comparison with other new releases such as "Louvre - The Final Curse" or "Egypt II".

In any case I have to mention the positive fact, that most of the predecessors' failures have been extinguished with "King Arthur's Knights", like people hovering over the ground, characters that could be seen through walls or suddenly dissolving to nothingness.

One of the really outstanding features of the game are without doubt the many detailed figured and moving animals which populate the scenes (harts, bears, wolves, cows, squirrels, rats, birds, butterflies, etc.) without any influence on the story but with great influence on the outstanding atmosphere of the game.


It's for sure difficult to fit the taste of the classical adventure game fan. One gamer might set high value on many puzzles, either logical and as difficult as possible, or as easy as possible but numerous, another rather prefers nice graphics with an appealing atmosphere and good sound or a gripping, most detailed story.

You don't have to solve difficult puzzles in "King Arthur's Knights", but you have to talk often with a great number of characters, find objects, collect clues and search paths. Those of you who prefer very tricky puzzles should pick up other games, likewise fans of classic Lucas-Arts-adventures or of action-elements will not feel enthusiastic about it.

A most capital feature of the game is that you can play alternating as two different characters. The Christian Bradwen goes through a totally different story than the Celt Bradwen. Persons he meets, solution path and happenings are totally different though the locations stay the same most of the time.

I had a lot of fun changing from Bradwen the Christ to Bradwen the Celt, just when I stick fast, but on the other Hand you can easily loose orientation when  often jumping from one to the other side of Bradwen. You can find your way back into the story by reading the diary.

Technical problems

Most annoying unfortunately are the many faults, negligences and failures. I must admit that most of the aggravating bugs that ocurred in "Timemachine" and "Odyssee" have been extinguished, nevertheless there are some new bugs in "Kings Arthur's Knights", which could have been avoided through careful programming and appropriate testing.

Already when trying to adjust the options you are mislead by confusing headings and "rewarded" with a black screen for the wrong selection of 3D-software. After that you have to get accustomed to the use of spacebar, return-, escape-, arrow-keys and mouse functions.

But more serious are the true bugs, which appear all the more the longer the game lasts - obviously bungling work increases to the end of the game: the french texts and important leads are often translated poorly or wrong and I unfortunately had to face some system crashes.

Most annoying - espacially after a crash - is the fact that you have to insert always CD 1 (of three) to restart the game and that you could only save ten savegames. Besides you have to be very accurate when you want to loosen a certain action, even if you only want to open a door.

Sometimes it even happens that you are walking on unassigned paths by accident, on the one hand causing quite funny - but senseless -   phenomenons, on the other hand troublesome crashes.


Even a company like Cryo, that did a long time of work in this genre, has its problems to please all adventure fans, just after such successes as "Atlantis 1+2", "Ring", "Faust" or "Egypt 1+2". With the Legend series Cryo hasn't done a favour neither to itself nor to the fans.

Many adventure fans, who trusted in approved quality, are disappointed by this series - obviously developed under pressure of time and money - , "Odyssee", "Timemachine" and now "King Arthur's Knights".

"King Arthur's Knights" will be followed by a sequel called "The Hidden King". But you couldn't make the reproach, that the game has been automatically shortened (by same price) because there will be a second part.

Nevertheless I will rather wait for "Atlantis 3", "Exile" or "Schizm" hoping for more quality and fun, than dealing with slightly defective rushed Cryo-Legend versions developed within a few months for commercial reasons.

Total rating

In total I rate this game with 65%, (restricted recommendable), mainly for technical reasons.

Adventure-Archiv rating system:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommendable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommandable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)












More screenshots

Minimal system requirements:

  • Windows 95/98
  • 64 MB
  • Pentium II 300 Mhz processor (recommended  P II 350 Mhz)
  • Hard disk with 120 MB
  • 8 MB 3D accelerator card
  • 8x CDROM-drive (recommended 16x CDROM-drive)
  • System must be compatible with DirectX7

Played on:

  • Windows 98
  • P II MMX 366 Mhz
  • 128 MB RAM
  • ATI Rage Pro Turbo 2x graphic card
  • 8x CDROM-drive (Mitsumi)

Copyright © Ulrich Wintrich for Adventure-Archiv, 14th December 2000



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