Sierra's Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail was written and designed by American screenwriter Christy Marx, with illustrations and graphics provided by her husband, the late Peter Ledger.
Conquests of Camelot was pretty unique in that it took the legends and tried quite hard to stick to them as “historically accurate” as possible, without straying too far into pure fantasy.
The game offers a rather interesting interface: use the mouse/joystick/keyboard for moving King Arthur around the various screens. But rather than, say, click or double-click on a chest to open it, you use a text parser to type what you want Arthur to do. While potentially off-putting for some, the text parser is actually quite robust and forgiving.
So, for instance, you may find your steed just outside the castle walls next to the stables. You would navigate the king to the side of the horse, then type “mount horse” to get into the saddle.
It’s actually pretty cool and works quite well.
The only issue one could easily knock this game for is the graphics. They are a rough 16-color rip from DOS EGA graphics. To that end, they are quite detailed, but exceptionally blocky and a bit garish (the animations are sometimes laugh inducing when they don't mean to be). But the story is so well conceived, it is easy to give the graphics a pass.
It’s worth noting that in many of the screenshots below, there is an obvious black bar across the top - this was room saved for a mouse-driven menu system (also keyboard activated) for various commands for saving the game, getting “hints from merlin”, adjusting game speed and other options.
The puzzle challenges for this game would be easily described as novice-to-intermediate levels, which is a nice break for most Sierra titles of the era.
Back of the box:
The Holy Grail
It is the most famous and sought-after object in the world. It is the stuff that dreams and legends are made of. It is the one thing that will heal the heart of a king and breathe life into a dying land. More than all these things, it is a symbol of the trials of the body, mind and spirit that all people face in their search for meaning and truth. Come with us to Camelot as the legendary King Arthur sets out on his ultimate quest.
In pagan times, the legends of Camelot were told as epic tales full of fearsome battles and tests of faith. Bold, colorful and often brutal, these tales survived the ages. They were a tribute to the legendary High King of Britain who manage to bring the warring tribes of Saxons, Celts, Angles and Jutes under one rule and bring about a rebirth of Western civilization.
Sadly, in the last half century, the Arthur legend has been recast as a cartoon and children’s story. The mystic rituals and dark passions that colored the original Arthurian legends have been watered down to the soft and toothless fairy tales most commonly seen today.
With Conquests of Camelot, designer Christy Marx has dug deep into the most ancient roots of legend to restore the power and passion of King Arthur and his court: his queen’s forbidden love for Sir Launcelot; the struggle for supremacy between Christianity and the ancient Roman warrior-god, Mithra. The blending of myth, history and religion behind the Grail legend is dealt with honestly and directly.
This combination of pre-Medieval history and ancient legend makes for a more sophisticated, complex and powerful view of Arthur than any you may have seen before.