Amstrad Action

Eve Of Shadows

Publisher: Adventure PD
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #71

I try to avoid giving full reviews to Public Domain games, firstly because there are so many that I haven't got space to review them all and secondly because the quality is usually low compared to homebrew and commercial releases. However, every now and then a game worthy of review is written, and that game is Eve Of Shadows.

The storyline is short and unoriginal. You are Tarns, the prince of the realm, and you awake to find the kingdom in chaos and your father, the King, taken captive. It is your job to travel the lands in search of your father.

When I first heard of the game and was told it was written in BASIC, I automatically presumed it would be awful. It seemed near-impossible to write a good game using BASIC - BASIC adventures as a rule are even worse than their GAC counterparts! (Castle Of The Skull Lord is a prime example of an awful BASIC adventure!) This month, however, both Al-Strad and Eve Of Shadows are BASIC games *and* are of high quality. So I've changed his mind... slightly!

Eve Of Shadows

However, Eve Of Shadows isn't your average BASIC game. It is disk-only and, like Infocom and Topologika games, reads the text and graphics off the disk, leaving the computer's memory free for the actual code. This method means you can write adventures much bigger and better than could usually be held in the computer's memory.

Rob Buckley, the author of the game, also wrote Smart Art, which appeared on an old AA covertape, and you can tell by looking at the graphics in the game that he's certainly no novice at computer art - the graphics are crisp and colourful and match the location descriptions well. The graphics and voluptuous text descriptions mean that the game looks professional. The screen layout is similar to Lord Of The Rings - in the game you can *become* either Tanis or his best-friend Calardyr (a wizard of sorts). And the characters who are in a location have their faces drawn on the left hand side of the screen.

How does it play, though? Well, once I had got over some initial problems (the ROM box interfered with the program and so had to be disconnected) and got into the game proper, I found it was a good adventure as well as technically innovative. There are quite a few locations, and although not a graphic for each one, there are still many pretty pictures. The puzzles are nearly all logical and well thought out (except one involving the horse-shoe) and there are your usual adventure hazards, including mazes, dragons and trolls guarding bridges.

However, there are some minus points - the game has obviously not been playtested and every now and then you'll spot a grammatical mistake or spelling error. There are also bugs in the game. Most are minor and will not affect the play. The only serious bug concerned the troll - you must give him the bronze coin as well as the gold coin otherwise you cannot cross the bridge properly. The other major bug occurs after saving a game - after the save is complete the game goes a little haywire and all the location connections get confused!!

Overall, a great game which is well worth getting. I'm looking forward to seeing Rob's next game soon.