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Conan: The Cimmerian

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Released: 1991

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: PC - DOS

Publisher: Virgin Games

Developer: Synergistic Software

Conan - combat

The upcoming (and delayed) release of a Conan board game funded through Kickstarter encouraged me to find alternative ways of passing time in Robert E. Howard’s fantasy worlds. After reading through the collected Conan works for a second time, I delved into my gaming room and dug up two floppy discs containing “Conan: The Cimmerian”, a PC game I got in the early 90’s from a neighbour who knew I adored the movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The game was a bit too complicated for a 10-year old non-native English speaking kid to comprehend at the time, but what did get me hooked were the awesome graphics (especially in buildings and in combat) and the enormous sense of exploration. Almost every building could be burgled to obtain loot, the loot could be fenced for cash, which in turn could be used to acquire items or improve skills. Especially the sewers beneath the city of Shadizar offered a high-risk high-reward environment. Combat was mostly straightforward, but occasionally enemies could not be killed by meshing the attack button and required observation, timing and puzzle solving to be beaten (just like in the Conan stories). In those cases the game’s unique hint-system proved quite useful: a storyteller chronicling the life of Conan would comment after each player death. The game has some issues: clunky controls, a single save slot and a rock-paper-scissors style approach to combat that quickly grows old, but overall it’s a very enjoyable game set in the Conan universe.