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The Isle of Kyrk appears ominously calm as a horde of blood thirsty dragons amass in its underground dungeons. Spurred on by the mighty sorcerer Morghan, they prepare their most deadly assault on the neighbouring land of Brightmoon.

As Asghan, the Warrior Prince, adventure forth on a perilous journey to slay the dragons before they take flight. Hack your way through a variety of hazardous locations discovering a wealth of tools and knowledge crucial for your mission but prepare to encounter a rich cast of vicious monsters on the way. Only your physical agility, powerful weaponry and magic can help you succeed in the treacherous struggle to regain your rightful place on the throne of Brightmoon.
  • Battle for your life using an intuitive combat system with a variety of unique moves.
  • Use your powerful weaponry and magic to slash through over 60 different gruesome monsters.
  • Run, jump, swim and climb around a full 3D environment, seen through a 1st and 3rd person perspective.
  • Solve complex puzzles, escape deadly traps and discover hidden secrets in an immersive adventure full of evil and witchcraft.
  • Explore a variety of astounding locations including forest, underwater ruins and terrifying dungeons.
  • Cinematic music score.
~ from the back of the box

Even though the original Tomb Raider is a bit clunky nowadays, there's no denying its impact. The worst thing about it is the controls, but even new players can easily get acquainted with them after an hour or so of play. It's only when you play game that were inspired by it do you get a full appreciation of what Core Design had accomplished. That's what I get when I play Silmaril's Asghan: The Dragon Slayer.

Released in 1998, the fantasy game came out to mixed reviews. Some praised its graphics and scope while others, much like I do now, bemoan its overly awkward control scheme. It sees the famed dragon slayer Asghan travel across the sea to the Isle of Kyrk where the evil sorceress Morghan has enlisted the help of dragons to her invading army. Our warrior hero is on the counter attack. First, he has to navigate through some treacherous locales including a cliff-side tower, magical forests and frozen icebergs. Sadly, I didn't get to see all of them as I had to quit after the first section. When you have to inch forward, repeating sections over and over again, it begins to feel like a waste of time.

In one of the many control quirks, you can only jump off of a rope sideways (left).
In another, the only time a mouse is needed is when entering 1st-person crossbow view (right).

It's a shame as from what I saw the level design is actually pretty decent. It has some thoughtfully placed enemies and some interesting puzzles placed within some graphically impressive locales. It's just a pain to get through. Let's talk about the first enemy encounter on the beach at the beginning of the game. It's the usually orc fantasy trope, but he looks imposing enough. Hold Ctrl to enter battle stand and you'll be locked in place, sword at the ready. The arrow keys are now you attack buttons with Up doing a basic stab, left a swing and right a lung attack. A tap of Down will now defend, but you cannot hold this stance. You will have to quickly get into a close enough position, then defend and attack in an almost Rock, Paper, Scissors fashion. It will take at least 5 hits for him to go down and about the same number for you too (even less for the next enemy type), so they're not easing you into the game at all. You can dodge with the arrow keys too, by holding down Shift at the same time, but it just becomes a complete fumble of button presses with little reaction time to an enemy's attack. I never once got the hang of it.

A little further up from here, you'll get your first platforming objective. There's a gap in the path but you can jump down to the ledge below without harm. Those who've played Tomb Raider will have an idea of what to do; do a running jump then hold Space to grab onto the ledge. If you miss, though, you cannot try again. Instead you'll have to climb up a rope. Grabbing on is easy enough, but there's a very unusual method to jump off. You can't just jump off like in any other game. You'll have to position yourself sideways, hold the Jump button (Alt) and hold either the left or right arrow key; whatever is the direction you want to go. Asghan will then do a little shimmy and let go of the rope. It took me forever to get this.

Discover spell books for magical recipes (left),
then find a cauldron and put those ingredients in to acquire it (right).

Despite what the manual says, you cannot change these controls, which could've elevated some of the issues, but it wouldn't have gotten rid of the bugs. I don't know whether players experienced it back in the day on their real Windows '95 machines, but I found a plethora of frustrating glitches. Some are minor; Asghan can easily get trapped in geometry requiring some dexterous use of the tank controls to get around it. Others are close to game breaking; you can shimmy along a cliff edge one way, but not the other, trapping you there - not good in a game that promotes exploration and backtracking.

You will want to save often, using all of the slots available to you, but even this is not immune to glitching. Not in the save files - they will load just fine - but in what assets to load up. Take the Witch's Cave area. This is one of the first NPCs you'll encounter and she'll speak to you before disappearing into her home. You need a key to enter, so I went searching. I saved just outside the cave, died by bat, then reloaded. The old woman has returned, but you cannot talk to her. In fact, you just carry on the game and just walk around her. Even when she reappears in a fight (surprisingly easy compared to the bats), her silent doppelganger will remain.

The skulls sing a song in a musical Simon puzzle (left).
Use trial and error to shoot at these glowing circles to open up a locked door (right).

Areas are separated into levels, with loading screens detailing stats like the number of kills, damage suffered, objects found - that sort of thing. Funnily enough, there is a high score to be had, which is at odds with a slower-paced action title such as this. The beginning of the second level is accessible without much hassle, but you won't get beyond this until you've found some magic spells in the witch's cave. She has some potion recipes that give you Magic Sight to see puzzles and runes that will get you further. It is here where you can find a cauldron to make such potions. By this point, you will like have picked up a number of mushrooms, skulls and dead bats to brew, but there are hints that this mechanic get more advanced further down the line, especially as you can buy such things from a vendor.

Asghan: The Dragon Slayer does a lot of good things; a potential marred by some programming and design issues. The bugs and controls ruin what would otherwise be a very decent action adventure. I'm glad I tried it and in time I will likely go back to it and see if I can go further, but for now it is something of a disappointment. I was up for a Tomb Raider clone - even a sub-par one - but it was not meant to be. A deadline was looming and there were better games this month to spend my free time on. A huge disappointment.

To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses  DDrawCompat, nGlide and CDAEmu to run on modern systems. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.
  02.02.2023 - Version 2 - Removed DxWnd & dgVoodoo.
                                          Now uses DDrawCompat & nGlide for Direct3D and 3Dfx respecively.
                                          Uses CDAEmu for CD Audio emulation.
                                          Added options to play without music.

File Size: 295 Mb.  Install Size: 368 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Asghan: The Dragon Slayer is © Silmarils
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. The game sounds interesting, thanks for the write up. The 'raider-likes' (Deathtrap Dungeon is another that springs to mind) passed me by entirely, and I'd be interested to learn more about them. Now I think about it they must have been inevitable, as no hit goes un-copied in the games industry!

    1. There were quite a few of them, but most never quite got the balace between action and platforming as right as Ms. Croft. There's one other forgotten PC game in this style I'd like to include at some point, but I'll keep you all guessing until its ready.

    2. Heretic 2?

  2. Around this period there were quite a few games with clunky controls. Die by the Sword, King's Quest: Mask of Eternity, Ultima IX: Ascension, Ecstatica, Deathtrap Dungeon (as mentioned), Nocturne (even though it's one of my favorites), etc. However, the truth is that most of these games still have way better atmosphere than most games nowadays and it's just not nostalgia talking.

  3. Hey there, thanks for the fantastic work.
    I seem to have an issue where the music hangs in the background during the game and also during cutscenese and stays on after the game is closed, I need to kill the game executable via task manager.
    Any way to solve that? Thanks in advance!

    1. In regards to the CD Audio, I'm afraid not. The MCI calls don't seem to work (hence I had to hard-code the lower volume for better levels). Even smarter minds than me are having issue with it, including the creator of DxWnd itself.


      I'm working on a cleaner install that just uses the CD Audio emulation of DxWnd and cuts everything else out. Perhaps this will help with other issues you're having. I'm also toying with having a batch file to play with no CD music if it really begins to grate.

    2. That would be awesome, thanks again!

  4. Amazing work, too bad it's crazy difficult and each time i mistakenly press the Windows button or try to Alt+Tab it crashes weirdly. - Thanks

  5. Oh my god, I've been trying to find this game for literal decades, I had a horribly broken demo version of this as a kid that I remember fondly. I just could never remember the name and googling for "90s 3d adventure game" etc. was completely futile.
    Thank you so much for uploading this!