Zkul (pronounced 'skull') is a standard middle earth adventure scenario, with the usual dwarves, a wizard and a domed city. The adventure starts near a river and you have instructions from your friend Eldomir to bring any treasures to his house in the forest.
The game combines the two main types of adventure game, the old style Hack & Slay, which had fighting and loads of monsters, and the more modern puzzle type, giving a strange hybrid. Thus, such commands as Health and a Hit point system are included giving a status for each character in the game that is reduced by fighting and increased by time. As well as this the game contains a number of very advanced puzzles which compare with any classic adventure.
The game vocabulary is very comprehensive allowing such structures as 'What is XXX' and also giving hints as to what it understands by its responses. Another novel addition is the hint facility that has the program butting into the game if you get stuck anywhere and offering a hint in return for a reduction in your score, this offer does not have to be accepted but the hints received are usually very useful. Like The Hobbit, action in the game is in real time, however, unlike The Hobbit, the real time routine is run under interrupts so you can be typing a command in and the computer will interrupt you to tell you that something has happened. This can be very annoying, but does promote prompt responses.
The game is supplied on microdrive which has the ability to back itself up for security, and this allows Zkul to be loaded very quickly. Saves and Restores are also done to microdrive, with a notepad facility. On the whole I was rather disappointed by Zkul which had great promise but didn't really live up to expectations.