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  Review by
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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Lapis Philosophorum
The Philosophers' Stone
1985 Ariolasoft
By H.J. Richstein & A. Veldkamp
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the eighteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: September 11th, 1986).
 
 

PHILOSOPHER'S STONE
Ariolasoft, 12.95 disk only
 

apis Philosophorum is the full title of the newest creation from the German Ariolasoft programming team. It's a disk based, graphic and text adventure for those who can't live without their fix of fantasy. The plot is simple: a good King rules the state but his wicked stepson (interesting turnaround . . .) has poisoned him in an attempt to usurp the throne. You are the only person capable of seeking out a cure for the king's illness. To do this, it transpires that a white powder-like substance called 'The Philosopher's Stone' is required.


Life is never simple. The production of the substance is known only to a few monks (wot, no wizards?) in the monastery known as Lapis Philosophorum. The monks have no intention of letting their secret become known to outsiders. Apart from overcoming this obstacle, the king's son is aware of your quest and the reason for it. He has therefore made your task more difficult by making sure the guards do not let you out of the city. Too many obvious attempts at leaving and you die.

Not surprisingly then, the first part of the game is spent trying to escape from the city. Wandering around is fairly easy. The city is laid out in blocks and isn't large enough to lose yourself it. There are places to visit, including a pub, a market and some workhouses. There are also the cryptic mumblings of non-player characters to be overheard, but this is definitely an adventure rather than a Role Playing Game. Also, the tavern has a rather unusual use which, while not being astounding, is at least different from the cliched 'Buy drink, give tip, get hint' routine.

The graphics are reasonably well drawn and use plenty of cross-hatching to give the effect of having more colours whilst avoiding low-res. The character set too is typically redefined. It is generally easy to read but 'N's and 'H's are easily confused and the 'X' was only discernible by default.

The packaging promises a 'huge' vocabulary, though I did not sense its presence. There was also only the ability to express single commands in the simplest fashion. Hardly magical stuff. Still, despite disk access for every screen, there was at least a reasonable buffer and play flowed quite rapidly. It needed to; I kept dying. The only solution to being spotted by guards whenever I tried to leave was to wait until nightfall. However, there was no 'wait' command. Nor did the day seem to progress in any way, as if time was frozen until you escaped.

The blurb on the packaging refers to 83 illustrations. Not a bad number for games of this type. It also mentions several 'routes' to win -- not ways. The various methods may therefore follow very narrow and inflexible courses of actions. This adventure really isn't worth the asking price, though it's not a total flop. The presentation is good (complete with competent loading music and title screen), but ultimately I found it monotonous and shallow. There is nothing in this game that I haven't seen better elsewhere and you would be far better off buying a similarly priced Infocom game if you really had to get rid of the money.

 
Atmosphere 65%
Interaction 58%
Lasting Interest 59%

Value for Money

55%

Overall

56%
 


If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness
' Classic Adventures Solution Archive or
Martin Brunner's C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (28 Nov 2004)
While testing this game, I wrote a walkthrough. Visit the above sites to get it...

Can anybody rip the SID tune out of this one?

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