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Classic Reviews – Revisiting “Secret of the Silver Blades”

Back to a classic Forgotten Realms setting ~

Avery Abernethy, 17 April 2017

Secret of the Silver Blades is the SSI Gold Box follow up to Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. I recently replayed this on a modern computer and my thoughts are on playing this game in 2017, not 1990 when it was released.

I recently replayed this on a modern computer and my thoughts are on playing this game in 2017, not 1990 when it was released.

I enjoyed replaying Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds. Both had an interesting overall plot line that engaged me and kept me going through the long series of battles and leveling up my characters. Regretfully, Secret of the Silver Blades has such a poor plot that I could never really engage with it.

In Silver Blades your party (either imported from Azure Bonds or newly rolled-up) teleports naked to village. The village made a sacrifice to a teleporter and your group is hopefully the answer to the prayers of the village. The small town gives your group some pretty nifty equipment. They also heal, identify your magic goodies, and provide basic equipment for free every time you come back to town.

Your first job is clearing out the teleporter. But the teleporter is actually a large series of teleporters (more than a score) that will zap you to a specific location AFTER you reach that location through your exploration. Why is this master teleporter here after a town and city have been swallowed by a glacier is a mystery only to me – the village and my characters never questioned this plot premise.

You then start slogging through an extensive underground maze. Most of the underground is totally unimportant except for providing random encounters and largely useless treasures. You eventually find a couple of important spots. The most important is a defunct temple. There the lone survivor tells you that you must pick up ten pieces to a rod that when reconstructed will enable you to enter a dungeon beneath a ten level underground crawl. But to keep this minimal plot going you are given a doohickey that identifies pieces of the split rod. Find a piece and it automatically reassembles.

The dungeons are long and meandering without any real purpose. If you slog through the ten sprawling dungeon levels and put together the rod you can enter into a second dungeon complex to put together a master key which then unlocks a third area where you meet the head bad guys.

That is all that motivates your group. You are teleported naked to a village beside a glacier. They tell you group that you cannot leave until you fix the glacier issue. Then you wander through long twisting, multi-level mazes to find a couple of critical areas. You then slog through a ten level meandering maze to put together another device that acts as a key. Almost every encounter is random.

Thanks to www.gog.com my copy comes with the clue book which gives you a map to the endless wanderings you must go through. I kept expecting some inspiring story to keep me going. Some reason beyond being trapped in mystery village and told to melt a glacier – something interesting to me. I did not find it and quit after completing the first three levels of the dungeon maze and obtaining the first three of ten parts needed to get me into the next area.

Yuck! . . .  Silver Blades had such minimal story and such boring combat that I quit about a third of the way through it

Yuck! I finish almost every RPG that I start. But Silver Blades had such minimal story and such boring combat that I quit about a third of the way through it. The game was stable. There have been a couple minor improvements in the gameplay software since Pool of Radiance. But the lack of plot and the implausible reason why I have to find multiple busted keys to get me out of my frozen prison left me bored.

Although your mileage may vary, in my opinion there are a lot better classic RPGs out there to make Secret of the Silver Blades worth playing. On the bright side, it was part of a huge bundle of SSI gold box D&D games all purchased at one low price without DRM.

 

Avery Abernethy started playing RPGs on mainframe computers run by punch cards in the 1970s. He never stopped playing them.


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