this? Arguably the world's greatest rock group on your
Amiga? No, in fact it's another prime American export
-- an Infocom adventure set in a mythical, Tolkienesque
land, populated by dwarves, elves and even stranger
creatures than those found in ZZAP! Towers.
ever, this is a time of crisis: the land's once prosperous
people have suffered the ravages of disease and famine
for five long years. The cause of this misery is known
as the Evil One, or Dread Lord. And the only chance
of vanquishing him is to find the last of the great
wizards, Astrix (sounds familiar). But he lives in solitude
in a Tower on the summit of the distant Sunrise mountain.
So four brave villagers are set to take on this most
difficult of journeys through unknown lands: Praxix
the wizard, Bergon the carpenter, Esher the physician,
and last but not least, apprentice food merchant and
the narrator of this tale, Tag. Minar, the optional
fifth member of the parry may be recruited at the local
buy some provisions for the journey.
yet another adventure requiring no typed input, commands
are issued by using the mouse to point to them. Each
character has up to three options depending on the location.
Some of these are duplicated by other characters, but
the result of, say, Esher (the physician) examining
an injured person is more useful than if Bergon carries
out the examination. Therefore each character's particular
skills are needed for different tasks. In addition to
the usual adventuring commands, characters will occasionally
be willing to tell a legend or story, giving a detailed
history of a currently relevant place or people. Praxis
(the wizard) also has the unique ability to cast spells,
using the magical essences inside his leather pouch
(more of these essences can he found during the journey).
Among the numerous spells available are levitation,
tremor and wind.
you recruit the bearded stranger?
well as individual actions, the whole party may be directed
to follow the current route, turn left or right at a
junction, or enter buildings. If hostile creatures are
encountered, a simple combat routine comes into operation.
Just before fighting takes place, the option is given
to send one or two characters down the flanks to get
behind the enemy. From then on, combat is automatic,
the only option being to continue fighting or retreat
(if possible). Praxix can also cast a spell at the enemy,
although it takes him some time to prepare. There are
no hit points as such -- characters can either be wounded
layout is neat, consisting of three windows for commands
(along the bottom), detailed text (on the right), and
beautifully-drawn pictures (on the left), although there
isn't always a new picture for each location.
story itself takes much inspiration from Tolkien's Lord
of the Rings -- here, instead of nine magic rings, there
are seven coloured stones to find in order to defeat
The Evil One. But there is a wealth of interesting background
information built into the game, especially in the legends
and stories. In fact, the sheer volume and quality of
text soon has you totally absorbed in a marvellous,
input system works so well that the only problems encountered
are intentional ones in this challenging quest. With
persistence (especially at finding the only route up
Sunrise Mountain from 64 possible ones), reaching Astrix
doesn't prove that difficult. However, finding the seven
magical stones is a considerably more difficult task,
requiring many hours of thoughtful play. The fact that
progress becomes harder the further you get makes it
that much more compelling -- you're hardly likely to
give up after travelling such a long way. And if you
get completely stuck, the musings feature (where Tag
looks back at possible mistakes along the journey) is
a useful last resort.
only real flaw in the game is the lack of exploratory
freedom due to the somewhat fixed storyline from which
you can't stray too far. But if you're a fan of Infocom's
'interactive fiction' style, this is a highly polished
and engrossing example.