Video Game Appreciation 101: Drakan: Order of the Flame (Or: The Return of the Odd Couple!)

Drakan PC 1Yeah, yeah, Microsoft is revealing its fancy new Xbox in less than an hour (*yawn!*)… I’m MORE excited that I managed to score a boxed new/sealed copy of Drakan: Order of the Flame, a game I’ve been wanting to play since it was released back in 1999. Amusingly enough, I worked in a game shop that had a copy, but I didn’t pick it up back then because I wasn’t into PC gaming as much back then. I’d played the demo on a friend’s beefy gaming rig and liked it, but didn’t want to dive into something that would require me buying an expensive 3D card (well, a better PC, because mine was a crappy model that could only run a bunch of DOS and early Windows 95/98 games).

Anyway, yes indeed, it installs and runs perfectly on the laptop (so far), but I hear from the grapevine that I need to grab a patch or two because the game has at least two major bugs from what I’ve read. The late Surreal Software whipped up a solid action game with light RPG elements starring two unique characters in Rynn, a young woman who finds out she’s bonded to an ancient dragon named Arokh after her tiny village is destroyed by an army controlled by an evil sorcerer…

Drakan PC 2 Drakan PC 3 Drakan PC 4

As you can see, what’s inside the box answers a few questions as to why this and other PC games almost always turn up for sale without manuals INSIDE their cases – the manuals were a few times larger than the case! It’s one of the reasons I was looking for a complete copy of the game, but all that other stuff is interesting as well, particularly the Psygnosis game catalog that shows a few titles that were eventually never commercially released. As for how the game looks compared to today’s games? Well, it’s definitely dated, but when taken as a product of its time, it’s quite lovely to look at. there’s also a Direct X 9 mod that bumps up the visual quality, but I’ll check that out later. Surreal made an excellent sequel to this exclusively for the PlayStation 2 called Drakan: The Ancients’ Gates, which is worth tracking down if you like dragons in games (and the sword-swinging lass who gets to ride one) and a pretty decent story (although the game’s abrupt ending is a bit disappointing). It would have been great to see a third game in the series, but the developer instead created two games for Midway (The Suffering and The Suffering: Ties That Bind) and worked on a few canceled projects before folding.

I’ll probably revisit the game in a future feature, but for now, I’m going to get ready for that big Microsoft event that’s supposed to change the gaming landscape (but won’t, really)… back in a bit.

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