Well, Spellbreaker wasn't too bad, Suspect
was brilliant and Zork was . . . well, Zork!
Despite the more recent appearance of the other titles,
it's good ol' Zork that really comes to mind
when you get down to playing Lurking Horror.
game has been touted as a horror story -- it's certainly
got atmosphere oozing out of the circuit board and the
Wiz actually jumped out of his skin when, listening
intently to the 'chittering of rats' in the nearby darkness,
the telephone rang in real life and almost induced a
start off easily enough. You have to finish your end-of-term
paper at college and find yourself in the computer room
in the company of 'a hacker', whose appalling body odour,
abuse of normal speech patterns and undisciplined code
have to be EXAMINEd to be believed. After playing the
college student role for a bit, fiddling with microwaves
in the canteen, exploring the nearby buildings and labs,
you soon find yourself drawn downwards -- literally.
you've discovered the innocuous looking trap-door in
between two of the buildings, or the man-hole in the
basement . . . Perhaps you may have stumbled across
the - gulp - sacrificial altar, or even heard the .
. . are they really rats, or are they . . . Aaaghghgh!
course, any sane student stays upstairs grappling with
the problems of logging onto his PC, but not you --
you've paid £24.99 for this software and blow me if
you're not going down into the darkness before you can
say forklift truck.
this is carried out in Infocom's usual meticulous style
-- and there's no doubt that Dave Lebling has a wonderful
talent for bringing both locations and those that inhabit
them to life -- witness his description of the Hacker:
'The hacker sits comfortably on an office chair facing
a terminal table, or perhaps it's just a pile of old
listings as tall as a terminal table. He is typing madly,
using just two fingers, but achieves speeds that typists
using all ten fingers only dream of. He is apparently
debugging a large assembly language program, as the
screen of his terminal looks like a spray of completely
random characters. The hacker is dressed in blue jeans,
an old work shirt, and what might once have been running
shoes. Hanging from his belt is an enormous ring of
keys. He is in need of a bath.'
doubt about it -- you've got to get those keys. To do
that, however, you'll have to find out what exactly
turns the hacker on -- not easy when his favourite rejoinder
is 'Mumble. Frotz.' I can't help feeling that maybe
Dave Lebling had a younger Dave Lebling in mind when
he wrote this game -- or perhaps one of his colleagues
it is, the world of end-of-term essays soon dies away
when you slip down through the trap-door into the damp,
dank recess below and find that: 'You can hear, in the
distance, a chittering, scratching sound . . .'