Corey and Lori's Quest Log


Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

Shady Ladies of Shadows of Darkness

Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness will always be my favorite game of the series.

Shadows CD Version BoxHalloween is my favorite season of the year. While I’m not a big horror fan, I do love the spooky, eerie, creepiness of a well-told ghost story. I grew up reading Poe, Saki, Lovecraft, and Stoker. We were inspired by films like Dracula and Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein by Mel Brooks and “Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein” showed us how funny horror can be.

I wanted Shadows of Darkness to be full of tricks and treats just like Halloween.

However, when I started to write this series about the women of Quest for Glory, I had thought that Shadows of Darkness would be pretty far down on the list when it came to having strong women. After all, it only really had one woman, and she was the villain.

Silly me. No, now that I think about it, the game really is about two very strong women. Or possibly about three… or four… And it tells the story of several more.

I had thought that Shadows of Darkness was all about Halloween.

It’s really a story of love and redemption.

Damsels in Distress Yet Again

There are many damsels in distress in this game. There are many men in distress, too. There’s even a Domovoi in distress. You could say the entire game is about people living in the shadows of fear and hopelessness. It’s up to the Hero to bring some light into this world.

AnnaAnna is a ghost who doesn’t know that she is dead. The Hero has to reunite her with her beloved Nikolai to free both their souls.

The shopkeeper misses her missing husband. The Hero has to listen to her and her husband complaining about one another. Then the Hero helps them realize that they still love each another.

And that’s just part of the story…

The lady in the lake is spending her afterlife avenging herself for the wrong that someone else did to her.

The innkeeper’s wife is in distress because everyone believes that her daughter is dead, but she is unwilling to accept that her child is gone forever.

A small child misses her mommy and daddy.

A loving and powerful Wizard is trapped in the chaos between worlds.

All in all, Mordavia really isn’t a very happy place to be.

The Hunger Game

The one powerful female in the game who isn’t in distress is Baba Yaga. She came here to get away from the embarrassment of being turned into a frog by her own spell.

Baba YagaHowever, when the Hero comes walking into her hut again after all the grief he caused her, she doesn’t just serve the Hero with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. She talks to him a little before she decides to serve her vengeance cold with some eye scream. She chooses instead to make a deal with him, which involves something suitably yummy to her admittedly eclectic taste.

It’s clear that the way to Baba’s heart is through her stomach.

Leader of the Pack

MagdaThe Gypsy Leader, Magda, doesn’t need rescuing, but her son does. Gypsy Davy is accused by the superstitious villagers of being a werewolf and eating Igor, the gravedigger. Once the Hero rescues Igor from his untimely grave and thus proves that Gypsy Davy is innocent, the Gypsies will accept the Hero as a friend.

Foolish villagers – the Gypsies aren’t Werewolves. Werewolves are cursed. The Gypsies are Shapechangers. They don’t have to wait for a full moon to turn into a wolf. These shapechangers do not turn into mindless beasts. They have no interest in eating dirty, smelly gravediggers.

They also have a matriarchy ruled by an Alpha female who can tell the future with tarot cards.

Magda is nobody’s bitch.

Lady in the Lake

Many of the creatures who populate Mordavia were pulled from Slavic Folklore. The Rusalka is one such creature.

RusalkaThe Rusalka, Elyssa, doesn’t pull men to their watery graves because she hates men. Elyssa became a Rusalka because that’s the sort of curse you get stuck with when your untrue lover drowns you in a magical lake because you didn’t put out.

Any Hero can befriend Elyssa, but only the Paladin can set her soul free by breaking the bond between her spirit and that of her murderer. Then the Paladin has to show her what it means to be kind and loving by kissing her cold, clay lips. Only then can the curse be broken and Elyssa’s soul go to her rest.

Faerie Dust

Faerie QueenThe Magic User is the Hero who meets the Faerie Queen. She’s come to Mordavia in order to claim the staff of Erana that protects the town. However, she is thwarted because it will take a great sacrifice to take the staff. Unfortunately, none of her minions is willing to make the sacrifice so that the Faerie Queen can take Erana’s staff.

So the Faerie Queen does what most villainesses in QfG do – She gets the Hero to claim the staff for her.

We’ve met Faeries in the very first game of the series. Zara showed the same sort of arrogance and disdain for humans that the Faerie Queen shows here.

The Faerie Queen doesn’t care who gets sacrificed or betrayed so that she can get what she wants. She’s too arrogant and powerful to let the Hero keep the staff. She intends to deceive and kill the Magic-User to get Erana’s Staff.

The Faerie Queen, like so many other villains, is too full of her own sense of power and importance to think for a moment that a mere human could defeat her.

The Magic-User proves just how wrong she was. Being the one actually wielding the powerful magical staff of Erana doesn’t hurt.

Child of Darkness

TanyaTanya is the real victim of this story. Love is the cause of her plight and love is her savior. She was a loving child who was overprotected by her loving mother. She was imprisoned in the inn to protect her from unknown dangers.

Somehow, Tanya attracted the attention of the Dark Master, Katrina. Katrina had her pet monster Toby rescue/kidnap Tanya from the inn. Then Katrina gave Tanya the gift of eternal youth – through death and “rebirth” as a Vampire. Katrina adopted Tanya as the daughter she had always wanted. Katrina and Toby truly loved Tanya in their own ways.

But Tanya never forgot her human mommy and daddy.

It’s up to the Hero to rescue Tanya from the castle. It is Toby, though, who allows himself to be sacrificed to bring Tanya back to life. It is Toby’s love for Tanya that saves her from Undeath.

Yes, Tanya is restored to her loving parents.

However, the Hero deeply hurt Katrina by doing so. She considers him responsible for Toby’s death and the loss of Katrina’s “adopted daughter”, Tanya.

Love Bites

So yes, Shadows of Darkness is where Slavic Folklore meets H.P. Lovecraft. It’s about Vampires, Ghosts, Undead, and Mad Scientists. It’s about deceit, betrayal, and death. It’s about superstition and prejudice.

But most of all, Shadows of Darkness is about Love – The love of Power and the power of Love.


There are two more women who are at the very center of Shadows of Darkness. I will write more about Katrina and Erana next week.

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Comments

  1. Ashton Herrmann Says:

    @Mark, sorry about that. The link must have been broken when I re-built the site earlier this year. This one should work:

    http://themarriedgamer.com/the-greatest-games-of-all-time-shadows-of-darkness/

  2. Mark Says:

    Ashton Herrmann, your link doesn’t work…

    Hey Lory, you said -
    “Tanya will become a very strong person for knowing just how powerful the bonds of love can be.”

    I want to believe it will happen in QfG6. Yes, 6. I think it is about time…. ;-)

  3. Corey Says:

    Very interesting interpretation, Ashton. I’ve always thought of the QG4 story as building relationships and friendships with character. I hadn’t thought about it as a love story, but you’re right. A major theme of the game is exploration of the various kinds of love… and loss.

    The Rusalka is condemned because she was drowned by her false lover. Anna and Nikolai, true love separated by death. Clearly Lori slipped all these themes by me and the Sierra censors when we weren’t watching. Everyone knows that all game players are adolescent males with no interest in romance!

    Um, uh, right. :-)

  4. Ashton Herrmann Says:

    I have always considered sacrifice to be one of the central themes of QFGIV and I think that plays well into the title’s concept of love. Yes, this is the game in which our hero truly starts to fall in romantic love for the first time (Katrina at the gates of town, Erana in his dreams), but his love is left largely unfulfilled, delayed until the concluding chapter of the series. Instead, we see resolution to the various love stories throughout the game in personal sacrifice: Toby for Tanya, Nikolai for Anna, and Katrina for the Hero.

    The moment Toby dies is pivotal to this theme. In many ways, I consider it the climax of the story (but Ashton, you say, there’s no boss fight!) because it most firmly fulfills this theme of sacrifice. It’s also the moment that resonates most with me.

  5. Lori Says:

    Like so much of what goes on in Shadows of Darkness, the story of Toby and Tanya is a bittersweet one. I’m not sure that anyone expected this big, hairy monster to willingly sacrifice his life to bring Tanya back to hers.

    Tanya has had a great deal of tragedy in her life. However, she has always had someone to love her dearly whether it was her parents, Katrina, or Toby. She’ll survive and heal from her losses. However, she won’t be the same child or woman she would have been if Katrina hadn’t fallen in love with her.

    Tanya will become a very strong person for knowing just how powerful the bonds of love can be.

  6. Chris Garza Says:

    As silly as it may sound, Toby’s sacrifice actually brought a tear to my eye. Though I didn’t know the character for very long, the idea that her only friend sacrificed his own life in order to redeem her soul really got me (I was totally not expecting it to happen, either!). She was only a little girl–maybe five years old, if I remember correctly, who had life tragically stripped from her. Toby’s gift would allow her to live a full, mortal life. Unfortunately, she still had to witness the violent death of her only friend in order to receive that gift. That’s a horrible thing for any child to have to experience, and she will undoubtedly have PTSD.

  7. Lori Says:

    I really like your article. I’ll put a link to this in my article about Erana and Katrina so that everyone can read it. Bittersweet is a good way of describing this story. The game may have been about love, but not all love stories end happily.

  8. Ashton Herrmann Says:

    QFGIV was the first game in the series that I ever played and has forever remained my favorite game of all time. I wrote a lengthy article about it here: http://www.themarriedgamer.com/2010/11/11/the-greatest-games-of-all-time-shadows-of-darkness/ In short, Quest for Glory IV, through its combination of memorable characters, comedy, and dark, even mature atmosphere, made me truly feel like I was playing the part of the hero. By the game’s end, I had a true feeling of catharsis, that bittersweet release of emotions. Very few games have ever done that for me.

  9. James StarRunner Says:

    Ahh… The ladies of Shadows of Darkness. You’d think after I had Johari taken from me in the previous game, that I would have learned. Nope. My heart was broken again and again for the hero. Of course there can finally be a happy ending for him in the fifth game. But I bet he felt so alone at the end of thiss game. Anyone that may have loved him had died (again).

    The women were fascinating in this game. We finally get to meet Erana, who likely did the most good that world had ever seen. Katrina had a very compelling story and was quite tragic how it ended for her. Even the Rusulka, Elyssa has features that really… stand out. Err… What I mean about that is, even she had a good story to her. Yeah… That was it (whew)!

    And though he’s not a woman, I was very touched by Tobi. You really can’t judge anyone by their appearance.

  10. AztecMonkeyGod Says:

    While I rode my bike to work today, I was thinking just how much Katrina influenced (almost) the entire series. I haven’t really think about it before. She has been behind the scenes since Trial By Fire, and her actions have indirectly (and, in Shadows of Darkness, directly) caused each of the major problems the Hero had to deal with.

    Wow.

  11. Joseph Austin Says:

    As you pointed out, virtually everyone in the game was ‘in distress’. Poor little Igor! I think the genders were presented quite fairly. And of course, we all love Katrina.

    I have to say, this game was very influential on my interests. It introduced me to those dark European folk tales and I spent some time learning about the Domovois and the Rasalkas, Vasilisa the Brave, Koschei the Immortal, and so on. In fact, rasalkas are featured in the game design I’m fleshing out (though more negatively).

    I also got very fascinated with Gypsies back then. I still am. I think the whole idea of their culture was very appealing to me then and remains so… I was an impressionable kid!

  12. Blake Says:

    Great read. I too look forward to the story of Katrina and Erana.

  13. AztecMonkeyGod Says:

    Awwww. The two ladies I was looking forward to the most, and I have to wait for them. I suppose they DO deserve their own post, though. Especially Erana, considering her impact on the whole series.

    Will read this after work. Gives me something to look forward to.

  14. RoyMartin Says:

    The story of Toby and Tanya deeply moved me when I played the game. I also vividly remember the first time I was able to save the Rusalka (it took a while for me to be able to import characters from previous games, so I couldn’t play as Paladin).

    There are so many well-written and complex characters in this game. I loved how at first they’re all sceptical towards the hero, and then they start trusting and liking him.

    Looking forward to reading about Katrina and Erana! :)

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