Gates Of Dawn (Virgin) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


Gates Of Dawn
By Virgin Games
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #3

64-screen psychedelic arcade-adventure

Gates Of Dawn

This is one of two aardvarks to be released from Virgin this month and there's little doubt that Strangeloop is the hotter of the two.

The game takes place within a maze of 64 locations and although this isn't as large as most aardvarks currently available, it's certainly as complicated.

Your task, as a knight in not-so-shining armour, is to discover the mystery of the mind. To gain access to this phenomenon, you need to pass through the Gates of Dawn with the four required objects - iron, stone, fire and ice. These, amongst other useful objects, are scattered about the maze in certain locations.

Each location is displayed as a 3D view into the screen with the walls bearing garish patterns and colours, giving the whole thing a 'psychedelic' look to it. Most of the locations contain, along with any objects, nasties of various descriptions.

As you move from room to room, a chessboard radar/map shows your position in the maze. An arrow below this map indicates the direction you are facing and it becomes important to keep an eye on this later in the game. When actually going through a doorway into another location, you are presented with a great, full screen picture of yourself running through a stone doorway.

You start the game with five lives, a strength of 10,000 and a sword. Lives are lost through contact with certain nasties and strength likewise. If you should lose all five lives, or your strength should fall to zero, then your quest and game is over.

The sword can be used to fend off nasties, providing it's at the top of your inventory list. Your inventory list is a list of up to five objects currently carried, the object currently held being highlighted at the top of the list.

This object can be examined, dropped or used in some way. Pressing the relevant key will present you with the menu of commands available. You then have a short time limit to select one of these commands for execution.

EXAMINE gives a small description of the object, while DROP drops the currently held object. The USE command allows you to perform an action with the object held eg. eat, drink, pour etc. You do this by selecting the option and typing in the action you wish to perform at the bottom of the screen.

The graphics in Gates Of Dawn are good, but some of the sprites lack in attention to detail. Sound too is pretty good with some unusual effects but a grotty title screen tune.

There are several humorous touches throughout the game, mainly in the form of little messages on some of the walls. Also, eating a certain mushroom gives the very amusing effect of seeing nothing but mushrooms! Every object, every nasty, even the things in your inventory, become mushrooms and are treated accordingly!


It was difficult to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing from the instructions. With a lot of play and a little help from Virgin, I actually managed to get quite far into the game, but the solutions to some of the problems were a bit obscure. This isn't exactly a bad aardvark, it's just that it does seem a bit bare and lifeless at times.


Good arcade adventures are still few and far between on the 64 and this one seemed destined to become one of the few great ones. After playing it I've had second thoughts. Reasonable graphics and 64 locations make the game look good, but doesn't play particularly well. Odd 3D graphics don't always seem to behave properly; your knight sometimes dies when he's miles away from a hostile object. If you're an aardvarker you might enjoy the puzzles involved in this, but I'd recommend you look at other games first.

Outwitting The Enemies

STRETCHES OF WATER found in some rooms are apparently uncrossable. If you try, you die. So how do you do it? - the solution should be crystal clear.

SPIDERS' WEBS block further progress in some rooms and signal lunch to an awaiting spider should you get caught in one. Unless of course you can figure out how to slip past . . . .

FIVE KNASTY KNIGHTS patrol back and forth and are deadly to the touch - unless you can weave your way through to the end of the room.

LARGE SLABS move up and down the length of some rooms while spinning spheres move around in predictable patterns in others.

BATS frequent the occasional location and must be avoided or killed with your sword.

TOLL GATES won't let you past unless you leave them an object.


Presentation 48%
Obscure, unhelpful instructions and no game options.

Originality 75%
Highly original puzzles and game setting.

Graphics 73%
Unusual 3D perspective and some good sprites.

Hookability 62%
It's a bit tough to get into as the puzzles aren't at all obvious.

Sound 60%
Great corridor noise with other weird effects.

Lastability 68%
The game isn't that large and may not hold your interest.

Value For Money 64%
Not as good as Strangeloop and Entombed but still quite tough.


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