Secret of the Silver Blades is the third part of SSI’s Forgotten Realms AD&D Saga that started with Pool of Radiance and continued in Curse of the Azure Bonds.
The game starts in the small town of New Verdigris, which makes its living by mining gems in the nearby mines. But lately the mining has been stopped, as monsters started to invade the mines and killing the miners. So the town has asked the mysterious Well of Knowledge for help, which teleported the player characters to Verdigris. They awaken in the house of the mayor, where they will get some magical equipment, as the well did not transport any items they might have had with them. The job is to find out, where the monsters are coming from and to stop them. The Well of Knowledge can also be asked for help, in exchange for large amounts of gems which the characters can loot from opponents they killed or in exchange for money at the local vault that also stores items. In time the characters will explore the ruins of the old city, the mines, the crevasses of the nearby glacier, a castle, and much more.
Characters can be transferred from Curse of the Azure Bonds, or new ones, which start at 8th level, can be created. The races include Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half–elf, Halfling, and Human. The classes to choose from are Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Thief, Cleric, and Mage. The maximum level in this game is 15th for all classes except the Thief who can advance to level 18. Only Humans can reach this level, other races are limited to lower levels except in the Thief class. As a trade–off, Non–humans can be of up to 3 classes at the same time. Humans can start as one class and, later, change to another class if they have the required stats.
The dungeons are large, new spells have been added to those already known from the previous parts, and tons of magical items can be found. The combat system has not been changed since Pool of Radiance and still features the same isometric view of the battlefield. A difficulty setting allows adjusting the opponents’ hit points from 50% to 200% of their normal value. In addition it is far more likely that the characters can avoid combat by running away at an easier difficulty.
Secret of the Silver Blades comes on 3 double sided disks and requires one additional disk for each saved game the player wants to keep. The code wheel has been omitted, as the password is now taken from the Adventurer’s Journal or the Rule Book. The C128 and multiple disk drives are not supported.
Sadly, the journey that began with Pool of Radiance ends here for C64 users as the fourth and final part, Pools of Darkness, has not been released for this machine.
|GRAPHICS - 9/10|
|New pictures and sprites, which all look very good, have been added. Some sprites were taken from previous games.|
|SOUND - 4/10|
|The title music has changed, but the sounds are the same as the ones used in previous parts.|
|PLAYABILITY - 9/10|
|The game can be played with joystick and/or keyboard. The commands are not difficult and easy to learn. Anyone who played the previous parts will feel at home immediately. Disk swapping and loading times are still annoying. Could have used more save game slots like in the 16–bit versions of the game.|
|OVERALL - 9/10|
|The story is not the most innovative, but this is compensated by the large dungeons and tons of monsters and treasures. The game can become a little boring if played at an easy difficulty level, but on the other hand it will not be frustrating. Definitely worth playing, especially if one has played the previous parts.|