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  Review by
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(Norman Nutz)

 

 
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!

Demon's Winter
1988 Strategic Simulations, Inc.
By Craig Roth & David Stark

 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the fifty third issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (Street date: August 17th, 1989).
 

Form 2-19
Rorschach
Scientific Stationary

THE LAB REPORT

RESEARCH PROJECT: Binary code addiction as a means of controlling the world.
HEAD SCIENTIST: Prof NORMAN NUTZ Phd, Bsc, KP.
RESEARCH EQUIPMENT: C64, Amiga A500, Cray-2.
LAB ASSISTANT: The Geek

Well what do you know? I only had to moan about the lack of C64 adventures last month and SSI came up with not one but two excellent C64 RPGs. The Geek was so happy that he jumped for joy out of the third floor window of ZZAP! Towers -- it took me five reels of black thread to sew him back together. However some of his bodily parts were irreparable and I don't expect there to be any more little Geeks in the future unless I build them myself! As well as doing hours of needlework, this month I guided a party of five (the SDP perhaps?) around the wilderness, got involved in some Azure Bondage, and was bitten by a nasty creature with long, sharp teeth -- and no, it wasn't Esther Rantzen (thank God!) .
.

 

 

DEMON'S WINTER
SSI, C64 19.99; Amiga 24.99

 

ell knock me down with a heavy sledgehammer (trust me, I know what I'm doing), it's another of them role-playing doobries. You create and control five characters whose mission is to search the large world of Ymros for the spells needed to see off a particularly evil demon, Malifon. He's currently trapped in a volcano, but this hasn't prevented him from casting a whopper of a spell to change the world climate (I blame it on the depletion of the ozone layer myself). Now it's permanently winter and the seas have turned into blood (the water's not quite up to European safety standards, but good enough for Britain!).

An encounter with five spell-casting Mages.

Creating a character is achieved by first choosing its race (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Dark Elf, or Troll), each type having positive and negative modifiers for some of the nine character traits. Non-human races also get a bonus skill, eg dwarves can see in the dark. Five character traits (Speed, Strength, Intellect, Endurance, Skill) are determined by simulated die rolls -- you get two chances to reroll any low values. The other four traits are Hit Points, Spell Points, Levels and Experience, the last two increasing as progress is made in the game. Finally, the character's class must be chosen from ten: Ranger, Paladin, Barbarian, Monk, Cleric, Thief, Wizard, Sorcerer, Visionary, and Scholar. After choosing one you are presented with a list of possible skills (relevant to the chosen class) from which two can be selected.

Nobbo the Dwarf -- a deceptively vicious character

When you have a party of five it's time to go adventuring. The extensive world of Ymros is shown from overhead with your entire party represented by a single, simply animated character. A list of adventuring commands appears to the right of the graphics window with another window below for text messages. On the Amiga, movement is achieved by pointing the mouse in the desired direction; commands are also selected using the mouse. 64 owners use keys for commands (selected by initial letters) and can also use a joystick to control all movement. General commands include Look For Traps (one of the party must have the Detect Traps skill), Take/Drop items, and Inspect surroundings for items.

While exploring the lands, dungeons and seas (by buying a boat), enemies are often encountered. Combat takes place as soon as you are spotted by hostile creatures. The display switches to that of the combat 'arena' with the characters this time portrayed separately. For each combat round, every character gets a certain number of action points (equal to his Speed) to use for movement and attack. To attack an enemy the character must be adjacent to it -- there are no missile-firing weapons. Characters may also Dodge enemy attacks, making themselves harder to hit. Wizards may cast a variety of useful spells during combat, although powerful mass destruction spells (such as Fire Storm which coves a 5x5 block area) cannot be used in the first round of combat. If your party is outnumbered, you can always make a quick escape by running to the edge of the arena, although all characters must leave at the same point. Alternatively, if you successfully kill all enemies you are rewarded with their possessions and money (even rats carry gold pieces!)

Scattered around the landscape are lots of towns. It's a good idea to enter one of these at the start of your quest, to buy weapons and provisions from merchants -- a bit of shrewd haggling can get you a lower price. However, merely buying a powerful weapon does not entitle a character to use it; he must have the relevant skill and enough strength. For some reason characters must also Equip themselves with weapons and armour before they can be used. This option is only accessible when in Camp: fortunately the party can Camp at any time, bringing another set of options into play, including Hunt for food. Sleep (this restores lost hit and spell points), and Worship.

The latter involves a character with Priest or Shaman skills praying to his deity -- there are ten different gods who can each come to your aid (it they hear you) in combat or camp. Each one can only help in one way, such as resurrecting a character, lifting your party out of danger, and killing your foes. However, each character can only worship one deity and becoming a priest costs valuable intellect points. Gods also need to be kept happy by praying to them and making donations when you find a relevant temple (each town has a single temple devoted to one of the gods).

As you'll already have gathered, Demon's Winter is an RPG that owes much to Dungeons and Dragons in both scenario and game mechanics, although the gameplay is nowhere near as deep as in the superior official D&D game, Curse Of The Azure Bonds (reviewed here, in case you're blind!). Still, the world of Ymros is massive (32 times larger than SSl's Shard Of Spring) and will take weeks if not months of play to fully explore. The game is easy enough to get into, with its easy-to-use command system and simple combat routines, although the latter are not as satisfying as in Curse. The game's main flaw is undoubtedly its dull appearance (especially on the Amiga); the graphics are very simple and largely unanimated even in combat, and sound is virtually non-existent. Actual gameplay is reasonable, but not as interesting as Curse.

 
64
   
amiga
 
Atmosphere 60%   Atmosphere 52%
Playability 72%   Playability 68%
Lastability 75%   Lastability 71%

Overall

70%   Overall 64%
 


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 (20 Feb 2010)
Only the Amiga versions of the first 2 of above screenshots existed in the original review.

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