Flawed 3D arcade-adventure
No, Durell haven't gone into sunglasses - the game title refers to the phenomenon of people vanishing from one location and then reappearing elsewhere.
Fully animated graphic adventures are very popular with most people at the moment, including me. Reading through the instructions as the program loaded, Shades sounded interesting. 'You must rid Arulan of the evil that is at work... fighting through the land... struggling against the traps and monsters...' Yeah, great!
After entering one of three skill levels, you are given a map of Arulan to study on screen while the rest of the program loads. And a very nice map it is too.
Once loaded though, you notice that the game's graphics aren't quite up to the quality of the map. The backgrounds and sprites are crude, as is the animation, (your character tends to slide his way along.) The sound is even less impressive.
Basically the program allows you to explore various locations (64 in all) using joystick control, and then carry out various actions selected from a menu. As you wander through Arulan you will find objects to be taken, dropped and used (there are over 30) and an inventory is affected accordingly.
Monsters and magical creatures also lurk in the land, making your task that much more difficult. These can be attacked and killed, thus increasing your experience (as does collecting certain objects).
However fighting such evil beings takes its toll in the form of a depleting 'physical state' bar at the bottom of the screen. If this bar goes too low, it won't replenish and you soon die.
At times you are affected by SHADES which cause you to return to an earlier location. This can prove very annoying when it occurs frequently, especially if you get quite far. Traps and secret doors are to be found, but only if you press the correct keys. Several 'searches' are sometimes required, as these are not always found instantly.
There's also a crossbow and bolts lying around, and if you are lucky enough to find them, they can be activated via the fire button. If you lose one of your three lives, any objects you were carrying are scattered amongst the land in true Valhalla style.
Playing this game requires perseverance and will tax even the hardiest arcade-adventurer. Mapping is possible, even though the game is slightly different every time you play. But combining joystick with keys is awkward, especially since movement is through joystick only and fighting is with the keyboard. Flitting between the two whilst all action is taking place in real time, is difficult and incredibly quick thinking and reactions are required.
Don't be misled by the cassette blurb - although being a 3D animated real time adventure, this is a very slow, badly animated Valhalla variant. Frustration sets in when you are fighting, searching for traps and picking up an object whilst being gobbled by a monster. Although designed to appeal to both arcade adventurers and adventurers alike, this hasn't enough interest and quality to attract buyers from either group. Unless you loved Valhalla, don't get it!
The idea behind it is a commendable one, though not totally original. Unfortunately between realisation and coding, something was lost. The game is let down by its graphics, sound and playability.
This is one of those unfortunate games - a real time adventure. The attacking of monsters means you don't have time to think and work out clues. So either you die a lot or you don't achieve much progress. The other major problem is trying to use both joystick and keyboard at once - always difficult unless you've got a friend to help. The lack of reward is another annoyance with little in the way of startling discoveries to keep you going. Worst of all are the Shades which move you around randomly at very inconvenient moments. Perseverance will be needed to gain any pleasure from Shades and I fear most people won't have the patience.
The instructions sound very exciting.
Unusual mix of adventure and arcade.
Some nice sprites but boring locations and poor animation.
It will take a long while to get into.
Occasional buzzes and hums.
64 locations - plenty to do if you can stick with it.
Value For Money 37%
Not enough arcade or adventure to be satisfying.