The Legend of Kyrandia is a humorous fantasy point and click adventure game developed for home computers by Westwood Studios. It puts the player in the shoes of unlikely hero Brandon, who must uncover his heritage and learn the magic of his family to stop the mad jester Malcolm from destroying the land. Originally released on floppy disks in August 1992, it received an enhanced CD-ROM version with full voice acting in 1993.
18 years ago the jester Malcolm, a favorite of the Kyrandian court, committed a horrible act of betrayal, killing the king and queen and seizing the Kyragem, the source of all magic of the kingdom. Fearing to confront the power of the gem directly, the royal mystics instead choose to put a barrier around the castle, sealing the mad jester inside.
This successfully contained the jester, but also denied the mystics access to the Kyragem. Without any way to replenish their magic, the mystics’ powers began to wane, and eventually the day came when they could no longer maintain the barrier, and Malcolm broke free.
Now free to take his revenge, the wicked joker starts with Kallak, the old leader of the mystics, turning him into a living statue – trapped in stone with only his eyes left untouched.
As Malcolm leaves to wreck havok on the land, Kallak’s grandson, Brandon, enters, becoming horrified at what has happened. And if that wasn’t enough, he receives a vision from the spirits of land itself revealing that nature itself is dying due to Malcolm’s evil magic, and that he has been chosen to stop it – his destiny from before he was born. Startled and confused, Brandon seeks out the help of temple guardian Brynn.
Also a mystic, Brynn tells Brandon the only way to restore his grandfather is to defeat Malcolm. She offers him an enchanted amulet to aid him, and sends him off to see Darm, the mystics’ master of scrolls, and Zanthia the alchemist, to help enhance the amulet’s power. As he goes about the tasks they give him, he faces increasing obstruction from Malcolm, but grows even more determined when he learns of his heritage. He is the son of the murdered king and queen, a prince of Kyrandia and the country’s rightful ruler.
Eventually, Brandon becomes ready to face the mad jester, and uses a potion to travel to the now desolate Kyrandian royal castle. Confident in his advantage, Malcolm gives the young prince free rein to wander the keep and witness the victims of his twisted magic. But Brandon manages to provoke him by going after the Kyragem, and then finally tricks him into turning himself to stone. With Malcolm gone, the land is once again safe, and Brandon is free to take his place on the throne as king of Kyrandia.
The Legend of Kyrandia is a classic third person point and click adventure game. It had a very innovative interface, abandoning the list verbs common at the time in favor of the single universal “use” cursor seen frequently in modern adventure games. The game also featured a streamlined inventory system, where objects in environment were simply picked up using the cursor and placed in the inventory or used on another object directly, without having to wait for Brandon to be shown walking over to them or performing an action.
Another unusual aspect is the game’s handling consumable items. Rather than restricting the character’s use of them, or putting the game in an unwinnable state, it instead simply respawns them, either in a specific place, or randomly across the previously visited locations.
Kyrandia did however also suffer from some archaic puzzle design, as some of them are very obtuse. They provided little guidance to the player as to what their immediate goal is or how to reach it, and force the player to resort to simple trial an error to get through them.
Brandon can die if the player performs the wrong action, and places where this can happen are fairly common. Deaths lead to the game being over, and force to player to reload a save game or restart from the beginning. Towards the end, the game can also reach an unwinnable state if Brandon travels to the final location without the required items.