Oh yes, good old Compass software. We last bumped into Compass in December '86 with a game called Demon from the Darkside. Well, don't be fooled by the title, even officially, this is that game - Part Two. Like its predecessor, this makes full use of every utility under the sun, including the precursor to PAW, the Press text compressor addition to the Quill suite of aids. Any regular reader will know that I'm a sucker for innovation, no matter how small, and here we have a simple deviation from the norm, where exit directions from a location are marked by little arrows. Simple enough, and not altogether easily followed, but I'm a sucker for novelty and you do get used to the things after a shod while.
Looking back to Part One in December, there was Morrack (your character), the apprentice to the wizard Ashmeard, he being the brave chap who banished Drakon to the cave of Illindel whilst at the same time relieving him of the Golden Mask. It was your task to add insult to injury and lighten the bad guy's load even further by snatching the Falcon Staff from him. Well, did you do it? If so, this is how the story now stands…
Having defeated Drakon and travelled back up the secret path of hell, Morrack once more stood in the lands of Dral. As he looked up at the bright sky, Wise the owl flew down to him. They talked for hours and it soon became apparent that Drakon had not died - nor for that matter had Stodge the dwarf. Now there was a new danger. Ashmeard the wizard was dead and with him died the knowledge of where the Golden Mask had been hidden. If Drakon found the mask before Morrack, he could once again summon great armies of demons and with Ashmeard dead, no-one could stop the evil which would devour Dral and all of its inhabitants. Your quest this time is to find the Golden Mask while avoiding Drakon's demon forces.
Visually, this game is goodlooking with a demon's mask prettying the text border (or should that be uglying?), detailed pictures - even if they do display a somewhat eccentric choice of graphic styles - and a character set which is 'olde worlde' yet still attractive and clearly readable. A good choice of colours keeps things bright, and more decoration accompanies the items in the inventory list, this time small token graphics.
Getting involved in the game reveals a very playable adventure where your character gets carried along in the smoothly flowing action. You might say the game is not too difficult in the sense that everything meshes together easily in a short space of time, but further into the plot you might find the limiting nature of the vocabulary slowing you up (as at the boat). The vocabulary on the whole isn't bad though, with both L and R bringing about a Redescribe. Examining things is best done once you've picked an object up, otherwise you meet an unpreposessing reply. Exceptions are large objects like the boat which can be examined when first met. Apart from the crucifix (where EXAM CROSS delivers the goods with no allowance for EXAM CRUCIFIX) examine always seems to get a response, even if it's just the who are you looking at?' from Wise the owl in the first few frames. He also says 'Morrack, time is short. Stodge told me to meet you here and to tell you that Drakon has sent five demons to seal off the mountains of the moon. Travel east and you may be able to cut them off'. Not everything is completely clear in all of this, but at least the owl tells you which way to go.
Golden Mask is a very competent adventure. The game has 85 locations, 25 of which display pictures, and has over 160 messages. It makes good use of spot effects, with lights and noise when moving certain items and falling down holes. The game looks good and plays well and you can't ask for more than that. Compass live at 36 Globe Place, Norwich NR2 2SQ.
Difficulty: not difficult Graphics: sometimes simple, other times detailed with unusual shading Presentation: good use of colours Input facility: verb/noun Response: fast Quill