Deliverance (21st Century Entertainment) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

By 21st Century Entertainment
Amiga 500/500+/600/1200/2000/3000/4000

Published in Amiga Power #14

Ye gods! 21st Century resurrect an 8-bit classic, reshape it into a console game, and, it seems, hope for the best...


We always feel slightly saddened, here at Amiga Power, when we come across a game with the finest of programming talent behind it, into which heaps of effort has clearly gone, and which seems like the answer to all our prayers the first few times we play it - only to find, after a couple of days of investigation, that it turns out to be, well, not quite 'all there'. (I do, anyway. I can't speak for the rest of those ruthless blighters.) Surely Deliverance, with the proven talent of Raf Cecco and a string of euphoric 8-bit reviews to back it up, won't suffer just such a fate? Read on...

For fans of the 8-bit versions, it goes without saying that Deliverance is a platform game with some chap walking around killing mosnters. However, that's more or less where the similarity ends - not only is our hero now a large viking type (sort of George Bernard Shaw crossed with Noggin the Nog) instead of a dwarf, the very, erm, 8-bitty gameplay of the original has been replaced by something closely resembling that of an arcade machine. I doubt if Cecco had anything very much to do with this new version, to be honest - it's really quite a different game to his Spectrum and C64 originals.

Similarities? Well, there are some. Our hero still carries an axe, which he can swing around his head (for close combat) or heave vehemently across the screen (for long-range death-dealing). That's until the final level, anyway, at which point the game transforms itself, with mixed results, into a sort of scrolling shoot-'em-up.

Until then, however, things follow a pretty standard pattern with platforms, ladders and the rest of it. It's familiar stuff - particularly level one, which, with the addition of a few metallic bricks, would have the Bitmap Brothers demanding royalties.

What it doesn't share with Gods, particularly, is subtlety of gameplay - this is very surface sutff. True, every so often (on level one, at least) you'll come across these large wardrobe-type things which can be opened to reveal various things, but this hardly amounts to 'gameplay depth'. More often than not, all you'll find inside are even more evil spiders and bats, though once in a while you'll come across keys, which are needed to get through doors, and if you get really lucky, fairies - and completely naked ones at that! [Good Lord! - Ed] As it turns out, the aim of the game is actually to 'liberate' as many of these fairies as possible. (They've been captured by the evil Queen Bahd, you see, plunging the land into darkness, etc.)

So this isn't a game of great depth, more an arcade-type thrill. To be honest, the scrolling and animation don't exactly set new standards of treacly smoothness - put Deliverance alongside, say, Leander to see how things should really be done - but who cares wheren the graphics have been designed as well as this? The backdrops are stunning in places, and way above average everywhere else. And the sprites are, well, brilliant. Not only are they beautifully drawn; but they're wonderfully imaginative too.

That's really the main thing Deliverance has got in its favour - the Baddy Factor. From the weird invisible men on level two to the strange stick people on level three - and the incredibly frightening insect things that accompany them - all the stops have been pulled out to give the most impressive baddies I've encountered since the General Election.

And if you're impressed by them, just wait till you see the end-of-level sequences! Blimey - you'll be knocked off your feet. They're absolutely astounding, real crowd pullers. Games in themselves, almost. Normally at Amiga Power we wouldn't ruin your fun by revealing the details of such things, but I've just got to or I'll burst. At the end of level one, for example, there's this... [Snip! - Ed] Aw. Just look at the picture below, okay?

So what's the prob? It sounds positively splendid. Why the slightly-less-than-utterly-enthusiastic intro? What don't they tell us on the back of the box? Eh?

Well, nothing specific. It's a top-hole game and everything. It's just that, um (fidget, fidget) there's always plenty going on, but I found myself wishing there was even more yet.

The baddies are terrific, really terrific in fact. But there are only about three different sorts on each level, and once you've killed twenty or thirty of each you begin to wonder if, well, you know... And lobbing axes about is all very well, but I kept expecting to come across some sort of 'shop' (especially on level one). Your only chance to upgrade anything is on level four, where you can exchange the blobs you fire for bigger blobs.

Call Me Ungrateful, But, Erm...

The crux of the problem is that, once you've unconvered each level's secrets, you're left with the prospect of re-uncovering them again (and again) until you reach the end. (And even then there's a load of disk accessing before the end-of-level sequence.) There's nothing hidden away beneath the game's surface for you to discover, no puzzles to solve or secret rooms to chance upon, and in the more-than-likely event of completing the game within a few days of buying it I can't imagine anyone wanting to play through it all over again.

And how about the competition? Say, Gods, Switch Blade II and First Samurai (another Raf Cecco game, funnily enough). Three onto one might not be entirely fair, but they've got Deliverance cornered simply on account of having lots to do. Deliverance parries bravely with its benchmark graphics (some of best on the Amiga, no doubt about it) and sheer imagination, but it's not enough. The final blow is dealt. It slumps to the floor, mortally wounded. "But what about those end-of-level bits?" it gasps. "And the stick men things? And the scrolling section? And how about the... wheeze... cough..." Its three opponents raise their swords and cry as one: "Variety, that's the key."

Good stuff, then, but too thinly spread to be a real knock-out.

The Bottom Line

Uppers: The graphics are really rather special - better, in fact, than in many arcade machines. And there's plenty of honest hacking/exploring action in here to back them up too.

Downers: Look beneath the surface, however, and you'll be confronted by an empty void. There simply isn't enough to it to make this an out-and-out classic.

A gold star for visuals, but a "see me" for the underlying gameplay. All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Jonathan Davies

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