Knight Lore: Groundbreaking Isometric Adventure Romp

Knight Lore by Ultimate Play the Game
Indeed.

Here’s a striking retro game from Ultimate Play the Game (which went on to become industry legend Rare). From 1984, it was remarkable for its era!

Knight Lore

Okay, look at that! We remember discovering this game in an N64 Magazine feature circa 1998.

Rare at the time was the best developer in the world, with international hits like Banjo-Kazooie and Goldeneye 007.

But this sure caught our attention. And we got to play it for the first time courtesy of Rare Replay.

So it may not look up to much now, but for 1984 this was outstanding.

Chris and Tim Stamper of Ultimate Play the Game had an uncanny knack to maximise current technologies to deliver something special.

The Stamper brothers (now retired) became famous for their elusive nature. Press interviews and marketing just weren’t their thing.

They relied on the quality of their products to do the talking.

And in 1984, launching something like Knight Lore was a big deal. The isometric approach the brothers took to the visual side involved how images rendered without overlapping.

Chris Stamper realised he could use an image masking system so he could “draw” each room one sprite at a time.

Complex and laborious, but the end results were unprecedented. Add in a funky soundtrack and you’re good to go.

Okay, so what do you even get up to in the game? Lots of graphical chatter so far, but no details on the game, eh?

Well, it’s an action-adventure type fair. You star as Sabreman (this was actually the third entry in the series), who’s a werewolf.

You’re in a castle and you have 40 days to collect a bunch of items that’ll cure you.

The monochrome appearance of each room in the castle hides a bunch of puzzles, items, and enemies to avoid.

So you have to make your way around, collecting stuff, jumping, transforming back and forth between Sabreman/werewolf, and all that jazz.

You can complete the game in around an hour, or less, if you put your mind to it. Here’s a full walkthrough, if it interests you.

Although other Ultimate Play the Game titles (such as Jetpac) are still enjoyable to play, we must say Knight Lore shows its age.

Although striking in appearance, we found it a bit frustrating. Very old school indeed, in terms of looks and gameplay mechanics.

In Rare Replay, you get the option to rewind time if you die. So that makes it a bit easier to complete.

But often you just wander around a bit stumped whilst getting lost.

However, we can overlook such issues to recognise what Knight Lore represents—a groundbreaking title that indicated how Rare would become an industry behemoth in the decades ahead.

It’s also a fascinating title from the mid-80s. An eye-catching technical wonder that still has the capacity to impress with its visual prowess.

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