Publisher: Game Arts / Sierra Online Rated: Everyone Released Year: 1989
- PC ~ Disk Operating System
A terrible curse befell the land of Zeliard; the fertile land has turned to dust, the princess turned to stone and a horrible demon looms over the land, corruption and influencing innocent people to do his bidding. The Holy spirits of Zeliard has sent for a champion to rid land of this curse. Enter Duke Garland, a capable warrior who has been charged with this task. Garland must traverse the 8 labyrinth worlds to collect the tears and re-seal the demon back into his tomb.
"One of PC's finest and often overlooked games from the 80's. My review and ratings reflect that and the potential of computers at the time."
Plot / Concept: 9 / 10
Jashiin, the evil demon wants amusement, and you, Duke Garland, will provide it, even knowing that it is a trap. Then the game takes off from there.
There is a lot of setup at the start of the game. Fortunately, the plot does not end there. It continues on through the game and each of the subsequent towns you visit along the way, each with their own problems, which does lengthen out the game somewhat, but they work out just fine. Also, as you get closer to Jashiin, the overall mood and feeling in the towns become increasingly more dark, to the point where some of the town villagers also start to mislead you on purpose.
Gameplay: 10 / 10
Simply amazing, yet at the same time quite simple. This is a superb example of "Sometimes simple works". Even though your character would grow stronger through the game as you progress, you can never let your guard down at any given time in the dungeons, lest you WILL be killed off, easily.
The dungeons start off as basic; with ropes to climb, platforms to move across for you and pits with stuff that damage you. You can find keys, gold and potions to recover health. As you move deeper into the dungeon system, additional traps and problems spring up, like floors that collapse on you, one-way walls you can go through, air currents that drag you around, very dangerous substances on the ground that will kill you almost instantly and slopes you cannot climb up with special gear. Some dungeons require you find critical items just to be able to survive in them (Like the 7th one and to a lesser degree the 4th one). Also, while enemies start off basic in the 1st dungeon, the nature of how they attack, how fast they are and how much damage they can dish out grows increasingly worse as you progress.
I like the mechanics of the shield: A system which provides you good forward protection, but if it takes too much damage, it will break. Fortunately, repairing it is dirt cheap (especially compared to buying a new one), so it will become necessary to visit towns, thereby increasing their usefulness.
Another interesting thing is the creation and exchange of currency through the game: You collect almas from enemies you take out in the game and exchange them for gold at the bank. However, this changes with each bank. Some banks are very generous, and others rip you off. Should you fall in battle, you will be taken back to the first town with half your almas still intact. However, if you have any gold with you, that is lost for good.
Obviously, a lot of effort was put into customizing all the towns, making each of them very different from each other. Even the prices of recovery and all items would change.
For a game from the 80's, there was so many different fine points of detail.
Controls: 7 / 10
This could be one of the few areas of the game that could be a bit confusing. The placement of keys to control your character makes sense, but it would have been nice to know about them. When I first played the game, I had to figure it out from the bottom up. I had no help like an instruction manual or online support at the time.
Music: 9 / 10
Each dungeon has it's own theme, and there are multiple town themes, adding to the content, plus each music track was actually "Music", not ambience or some odd sound effects.
Sound Effects: 7 / 10
Enemy bosses pounding on doors, sword swings, taking hits, dishing out spells, everything that is needed is there. The "Speaking" sound effect got a bit annoying at times, but at least it varied with some of the main characters.
Graphics: 9 / 10
Superb for 16-colour graphics. The towns were very filling, full of people walking around, so there looked like there was activity. The characters were a bit lacking in animation, but the wonderfully detailed close-up shots of building interiors was a great compensation.
The labyrinths could have used some sort of background to give it more depth, but the overall layout of the various ones made it easy to tell which one you were in, even if you got lost.
The monsters were well animated, and they did not simply recycle monsters from old dungeons and stick them in new ones (With the exception of like 1 or 2).
Spell effects got the job gone, though I was kinda disappointed with the last spell. Considering it floods the whole screen, it looks a bit cheap.
It takes a while to beat, but the question becomes: Would you play it again? For me, it is hard to say, knowing how much time it would take to go through it again.