Barbarian (Psygnosis) Review | Computer & Video Games - Everygamegoing


By Psygnosis
Amiga 500

Published in Computer & Video Games #72


The three previous releases from Merseysiders Psygnosis have all belonged in the "floored masterpiece" department; being ambitious offerings with impressive packaging and graphics, but with little or not real gameplay to match the outstanding presentation.

So was Barbarian, the latest effort by Psygnosis programmer David Lawson and artist Garvan Corbett destined to fall into the same category?

Happily, no. Although Barbarian still exhibits some of the failings which held back Arena and Brataccas, overall these are far less in evidence, and are outweighed by tight game design and good playability.

Barbarian is a four-way scrolling combat arcade/adventure in which you, that's Hegor the Barbarian, must brave the fearful realms of Durgan, an underground world created by your erstwhile brother Necron for him and his hideous band of followers.

Necron is so awesomely evil that he can only be killed by an equal and opposite force of good and, yes, you guessed it, you're the only one with a big enough halo for the job, and after all, he did his favourite dragon, Vulcuran, to kill your father a couple of years back, so there's a spot of revenge mixed up in the plot too.

Anyway, here you are at the entrance to Durgan, armed only with your wits and a gleaming sword, given to you by a mysterious druid just before he disappeared behind a tree. Later in the game you'll find arrows and a bow, which lets you kill things from a safe distance.

Control is via a keyboard, mouse, joystick, or any combination of these. Joystick control is 'not recommended' in the player's guide, and small wonder with all the different actions that Hegor can be made to perform.

These include walk in all four directions: stop, run, attack, defend, flee, pick up, drop, use and jump (a different action depending on whether you're walking or running).

During combat, you are treated to a whole gambit of digitised grunts and groans, as Hegor butchers away at whatever monstrosity is unfortunate enough to be within hacking range. To defeat your foe, timing is crucial.

When you eventually do kill someone, or something, their spirit swirls up into the air crystallising into a skull with sparkling ruby eyes which then dissolves into nothingness.

Apart from the more obvious living, or semi-living, video nasties, the game is packed full of Indiana Jones-type collapsing bridges, trap doors that suddenly open to reveal archers like mutated jack-in-the-boxes, and spikes, activated by pressure pads in the floor, that have a nasty habit of dropping down from the rock ceiling with alarming speed, ready to install air conditioning in your brain.

And, if you do persevere, you'll be richly rewarded with the sight of new, and even stranger-looking animals, not to mention traps of an extremely devious nature.