Once upon a time, the Code of War, Magic and Intellect despaired of man and built a great tower called DarkSpyre to test whether mankind was worthy to exist. Many champions challenged its many hallways and levels in search of magical runes of power and portals that lead to the final trio of celestial tests--and none have returned. Time is growing short; there is only a century yet before the wrath of the gods is unleashed.
This real-time adventure, developed by Event Horizon Software, combines some degree of arcade movement with many of the attributes of the standard quest-ad-venture genre. There is but one hero or heroine, for instance, but the character has a number of variable attributes; strength, agility, endurance, accuracy, talent and spell-casting power. The player may be either right- or left-handed.
There are a variety of weapons and spells that will become available as the game develops. Proficiency in their use will increase skill points, while hit points and spell-casting ratings may be gained, expended and regained.
The action, viewed from a 3-D overhead vantage point, is continual, controlled from keyboard, joystick or mouse, for the most part without stopping to enter keyboarded commands or even to select choices from a menu. The screen scrolls horizontally and vertically to maintain some view of surrounding corridors, including nearby areas not visible to the character.
There are some simple techniques to be learned for picking up and using objects, and there's a menu list of available actions, such as punching, invoking, etc. Skull-heads embedded in the hallway floors conveniently identify locations or comment on nearby items.
The overhead view is but one of two screens. The other, called the character screen, is always partially visible at the bottom, and it is possible to either switch back and forth between them or scroll to make a larger segment of the one and a smaller of the other available at any time. The character screen includes an image of the hero or heroine, complete with accoutrements as they are obtained, plus a couple of rows of items--weapons, scrolls and the like. There are also several status icons and the means to exit and/or save the game.
While moving around the corridors there are frequent vistas of the stars beyond exterior walls, a nice graphic touch. The game supports VGA, EGA, CGA and Tandy graphics and sound ranging from IBM's internal one-voice and Tandy's three-voice to Sound Blaster and Ad Lib music cards.
Included with the game are a manual, including a 16-page story depicting events preceding the creation of the DarkSpyre and descriptions of the various play attributes and options, and a scratchpad with grid-imprinted sheets to help map each level's meandering corridors. There's also a technical reference sheet describing how to use keyboard, joystick or mouse controls.
The game's designers strove to give the game depth, yet make it fun, and even addictive, to play. They seem to have succeeded in avoiding the tendency that multiplayer role-playing games often have--getting so bogged down in moment-to-moment detail that the sense of adventure is lost. The puzzles to solve, traps to avoid and techniques to master require relatively little of the slam-bang energy of the average shoot-'em-up arcade action, and that's okay by me.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP