This is a western RPG technically. But when you hear western RPG you think daggerfall, morrowind, oblivion and Skyrim. You think Bard’s Tale, Ultima Underworld and Eye of the Beholder. You think Tolkeinsian swords and sorcery. You probably don’t envision a hippie with a pony tail in a blue bathrobe.
Many games from this era utilized primitive 3D environments, with sprite based characters as the hardware available then could not muster enough polygons for both. LBA does it the other way around. The backgrounds are 2D and isometric, made from pre-rendered sprite based assets while the characters are real time 3D polygon models.
This is an approach used by many RPGs of the era, including all of the PS1 Final Fantasy games. Twinsen, the hero of this game, controls like a tank. You turn him left and right with the left and right arrow keys and walk forward/backward with the up and down arrow keys. It feels a lot like the classic Resident Evil controls.
As if the controls weren’t cumbersome enough already, guess how you run. Go on, guess. Hold down a run button? Oh, you sweet Summer child. Nothing in this game can be that easy and intuitive. No, instead you open a menu and select which movement mode you want Twinsen to be in.
The cliff’s notes version of the plot is that Twinsen and his people are deeply spiritual, their religion is verifiably true and gives them magic powers, but for some reason the only atheist on the island where they live is a grumpy asshole who wants to put a stop not only to their worship, but to any application of imagination. To that end, he’s locked up dissenters who won’t obey the new rules.
Twinsen actually wakes up in jail when the game starts, and must escape as a sort of tutorial level. The game is sprawling and will take you across a wide variety of islands with temples, caves, military bases, villages and more. It’s really impressive how large in scope it is for when it was released.
Straight away I have to dock a point for clunky controls. There’s no way around that. I’m docking one more point for a persecution fantasy plot that I found obnoxious. Otherwise it’s an awesome game, and one of the most expansive, engrossing RPGs you can play in DOS. I give Little Big Adventure an 8/10.
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