The Druid Hasrinaxx lies scattered in six pieces around the Catacombs of Kaza: four dark towers, each with seven levels. His two viking servants, Olga and Olaf, are assigned the task of reassembling and resurrecting him.
From the title screen the player selects one of the two characters. Each has individual abilities: Olga has keen magical powers and Olaf has great strength. Every level is set over nine four-way push-scrolling screens, consisting of a maze patrolled by sixteen kinds of monster. These punch of launch missiles at the vikings, reducing the energy bar at the foot of the screen. Other levels are accessed via one or more teleports found in each maze.
Both characters are armed with a choice of three weapons: arrows, lightning bolts and powerful fireballs. These are selected by accessing the status screen with the space bar. This displays Hasrinaxx' current state as a glowing skeleton and provides player status information, including weapons active, spells and shields collected.
In addition, 32 potions are collected which endow the character with bonus abilities, such as extra speed, magic replenishment and more effective weaponry. Other items are picked up such as food, gold, shields, extra lives and magic relics to provide enhanced defence in the form of masks, invisibility rings and death auras.
First impressions aren't good. Unrealistic graphics and a rather bland maze give it the look of a very basic Gauntlet clone. Look beyond these shortcomings though and the game isn't too bad.
The 32 potions don't yield anything extraordinary, but because the flasks change their contents between games, they do bring a modicum of variety to alleviate the tedium of blasting monsters.
The pleasing thing about letting rip with arrows and lightning bolts is that they don't stop at the screen boundaries, and lightning bounces around some distance from the player, killing off monsters yet to be seen.
The use of two different characters is a good idea, but I must admit that I didn't notice a great deal of difference between their characteristics or their on-screen representation. I found Gothik mildly playable, but if you already have a rackful of these games, you should try before you buy.
Imagine a Gauntlet game without the action, and you're on the way to conjuring up an accurate mental picture of Gothik. It's not just the game that's dull - the graphics are very bland, consisting of repetitive backdrops and blocky, undetailed sprites.
It must be said that the game does have depth, with plenty of different spells to cast and problems to solve, but the pedestrial speed of the action and lack of reward means that boredom and frustration tend to creep in.
Those who like sprawling exploration games might well thoroughly enjoy this, but I don't think Gothik warrants the perseverance it requires.
Any resemblance Gothik has to the Druid series is negligible: its graphics, sound and gameplay are far inferior. The depth isn't lacking: the extensive range of spells and potions and the large number of creatures enhance the otherwise tedious gameplay, but the visual and aural presentation is horrible.
The dearth of colour and variety in the maze floors is matched by their poor detail; the same problems afflict the blocky, poorly animated and very dull sprites. Olga and Olaf don't behave in a discernibly different way, and certainly don't look very different.
Gothik may have the depth of its predecessors but it lacks their professionalism and polish, and so is a far from worthy purchase.
Large screen display and helpful instructions marred by sometimes awkward and generally limited character control.
The backdrops lack colour and detail, and the sprites are blocky.
Some evocative effects and an appropriate title track.
The number of levels, objects to collect and spells to command are rendered unappealing by the unspectacular format and average graphics.
Little inter-level diversity and basic gameplay conspire to prove unaddictive.
A dull Gauntlet variant, which doesn't like up to its potential.