As the ex-captain of a colonising spaceship who deserts his crew when under attack, you parachute to the surface of a strange planet and find yourself in a forest, armed only with some venom. Your mission is to effect an escape or rescue.
This is the latest offering from Artic and comes with a very smart looking character set which, even though purely upper case, is easy to read. There are graphics too which are instant to display and nicely detailed. The picture for each location is shown only once unless recalled with LOOK. This does not mean each picture is used only once - in fact, quite a number of pictures double up for similar locations.
The input is of the two-word only type and I have rarely found that this detracts from a game. Unfortunately, it is the responses to those inputs that let the game down. It is not the speed of the responses - that is instant - it is the contents. At best the replies offer the player little encouragement - at worst they are illogical. This is a pity, since it spoils an otherwise logical and interesting game.
As an example, if you should come across a calculator and examine it, you will be told there are four buttons. If you PRESS BUTTON or PRESS 1, you get the message: "You can't". This is because you first have to do somethign to the calculator to get any effect, but it implies that the action is a physical impossibility. "You can't" is also the reply to a known verb and a rubbish noun. More careful use of such commands as "Nothing happens" would have avoided this problem.
That aside, I found the game quite enjoyable. There is a variety of problems to solve and the game is designed in such a way that there is plenty of scope for exploration right from the beginning. This enables the player to get the feel for the game and form ideas on how to go about solving some of the problems, without coming up against a brick wall right near the beginning.
The game starts off in a forest and leads to a city with a large temple. A booklet picked up on the way tells about a Sinclair ZX Teleporter and finding and using the device is one of the keys to moving on to the complex of Hyperdomes at the planet's space station.
Dead At The Controls is for the 48K Spectrum from Artic, priced £6.95.