Reviewed by Wendy Mann
The Melrin games are AGS games downloadable for free from www.bigbluecup.com. Note when looking for the games: the games (and the main character) are called Melrin, not Merlin!!!
The Melrin games are Zelda-type, for those who know the great Zelda games from Nintendo, and the quality of the Melrin games is excellent. I started playing the first Melrin game somewhat dubiously, not expecting what actually happened: I was really intrigued and gripped by the game, and later by the other two Melrin games too. Great work by the sole author, Joacim Andersson.
Melrin is a trainee-magician ("disciple") who has to carry out a different quest in each game. The three games are very enjoyable and cleverly designed point-and-click adventure games. They are typical adventure games: exploring, talking to characters, finding objects and things, figuring out puzzles, and so on. Melrin, being a 'disciple-magician', uses spells, and later also makes spells.
What makes the Melrin games special is how very well they have been done. The puzzles and spells are most enjoyable and well designed, leaving a good feeling of satisfaction. There are a couple of small mazes in the trilogy, but there are plenty of clues (once you find them) to help you get through the mazes. Without those clues, it would probably be impossible.
The first 2 Melrin games are designed with separate 'areas', each of which must be completed before being able to progress through to the next area. Melrin 3 has a map, and is slightly more complex because of the lack of area-linearity... although again, there are usually adequate clues. You can die in the first two games, so save regularly, but in the third game Melrin cannot die (however it is still advisable to save regularly). But there is no blood in the games, and in my opinion they would not frighten younger players.
The quality of the games is surprisingly good, and I can happily recommend these games to any point-and-click adventure game fan. Their quality simply shines through. I personally thoroughly enjoyed them very much and found them surprisingly addictive... I kept wanting to come back to them to make more progress, and to discover more. And there is an Easter egg (hidden secret) in Melrin 2, and 3 Easter eggs in Melrin 3!
Story: Here is a brief summary of the story / objective of each game.
Melrin 1: The Disciple Ordeal
Melrin, a "disciple" magician, has been magically transported to a strange place, and has lost his memory. He must find out where he is, how he got there, and why, and he must find a way to get back home.
Melrin 2: The Pendant Quest
Find the King’s holy pendant that was stolen, and save the Kingdom.
Melrin 3: The Dragon Menace
The King sends Melrin to investigate a rumor that a dragon is pestering the countryside. The King sends Melrin (i.e. a magician rather than a Knight), because the King suspects foul play.
The Melrin games are 3rd person, 2D point-and-click adventures, with a menu-bar available at top of screen showing Melrin’s inventory, plus icons for save, restore (load), and quit (just take your cursor to the top of screen to see it). The controls are very simple: one mouse button is used to look at things, the other is used to walk, talk, examine, and interact.
Making spells are straightforward when you have the correct ingredients: in inventory, click each required item on the black bowl (cauldron) to put them inside it, then click on the black bowl to call up a "Create spell" screen where you can check your ingredients, or empty the bowl if you made a mistake, and so on. Once you click "Create Spell", it brings up a list of the spells to select from. If done correctly, the spell appears in inventory (it looks like a smallish flame) and you can then use it as and where needed.
Graphics, Music, Sound EffectsThe graphics are excellent for the 'style' of the game. As mentioned, the games look similar to the Zelda games. The graphics are fairly simple, but detailed enough, are clear and sharp, and work very well. Some of the screens are quite pretty, and the game is fairly 'atmospheric'. The music is simple but nice, as is usual with this type of game. It changes according to the location you are in. I did not find the music repetitive, in fact I actually quite enjoyed the music. I loved the dramatic music in the 'danger' scenes!!! Sound effects are a bit limited, but very satisfying. I was very impressed with the way the buzzing of the bees got louder, the closer Melrin approached to them!!! The only minor quibble is that I personally found the sound of Melrin’s footsteps too loud in Melrin 3, but not unbearably so (there was no 'footsteps-sound' in the other 2 games). Speech is non-existent, everything is conveyed via text on the screen (which is perfectly sensible given the style of the game), and lack of speech does not detract from the game.
Puzzles & Game-play
The games consist of the usual adventure game fare: exploring, talking to characters, finding objects and things, figuring out puzzles (how to open doors, where to find something, how to make something, etc), and so on. In the first game, Melrin has to find and use spells to assist him in his quest. In the next two games he has to make the appropriate spells himself, then use them in the right place / on the right thing.
It is very interesting to try to find the 'ingredients' for the spells, and in some cases to figure out what to combine to make a particular ingredient (or a particular item too). The puzzles and spells were very logical and well designed, and leave one with a feeling of satisfaction at finding or making the necessary items for the spells, and figuring out the puzzles or finding items to help solve the puzzles. I thought Melrin 2 was the easiest of the 3 games. Nowhere in the 3 games did I feel "Hey, that is not fair". There is no scoring in the game, your reward is in finding solutions, and in making progress through the game towards the objectives and the happy endings.
The mazes: One maze is impossible if you had not figured out the clues available elsewhere, but then it is fine if you are careful. The other maze is easy, but only if you wait until "you know how to find your way". You do not need keyboard gymnastics in these games. However it was a bit tricky in two instances to click accurately when trying to deal with a moving foe, but even then it was not too difficult. I found no part of the games to be frustratingly difficult or unfair (except I had personally never heard of "something to catch dreams" before: maybe it is a concept from mythology).
I managed to find out a great deal on my own throughout the 3 games, but I did get stuck several times in Melrin 1 and 3 (normal situation for me!!), but only got stuck about twice in Melrin 2. The bigbluecup forums were a tremendous help!
The games are each medium-to-longish in length. If you take them as a trilogy, then the set of 3 games is satisfyingly very long. I had to replay all 3 in order to play-test the walkthroughs I wrote, and I thoroughly enjoyed replaying them, despite having to follow my walkthroughs word-for-word to check their accuracy. However one would probably not want to play the games for a third time until after a couple of years have passed by.
Bugs / Hiccups
I only experienced one technical hiccup, which was a save-game problem in Melrin 3. The number of saves in each game is limited to about 18, and in the first 2 games (as in most AGS games) you can type over a previously saved game’s 'save-name' and re-use the slot. However, in Melrin 3, I could not figure out a way to do this, which was somewhat annoying. You could overwrite a previously saved game with a new one, but could not type in a new name for the save!!! After exceeding 18 saved games, I had to make a note on paper each time I saved, as to what my saves really meant!!! Not a game-breaker, but certainly irritating. Apart from this, I found no other bugs or problems.
I personally highly recommend this set of 3 games. The games are excellent fun. The puzzles and spells are cleverly designed, the puzzles and connections are very logical, and it is very satisfying to play, especially when you solve a tricky puzzle. Try to play without the walkthroughs, but at certain points you will probably eventually need to resort to the walkthroughs.Highly recommended!!! So what are you waiting for? Go download Melrin 1 (and later 2 and 3) from www.bigbluecup.com and try them out yourself!!
© May 2011 Wendy Mann
Developed (2003 - 2004) by Joacim Andersson.
Rated: E for Everyone - Wendy Mann's Opinion
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Windows 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista / 7; DirectX 5.0 or Greater; DirectX Compatible Video Card; DirectX Compatible Sound Card; 32 MB of Free Hard Drive Space (includes saved games); Mouse
Where To Download This Free Game:
Walkthroughs or Hints: