Fangs for the adventure, says Bob Chappell, as he surveys two new releases - Castle of Terror and Infidel, an atmosphere-charged archaeological adventure that will hold you in its grip.
Fangs for the adventure, says Bob Chappell, as he surveys two new releases - Castle of Terror and Infidel, an atmosphere-charged archaeological adventure that will hold you in its grip
Arch-fiend Count Dracula has bitten quite a few necks in his time and shows no sign of letting up on the blood-letting, at least where adventures are concerned. Here he comes again, in all his gory and turns you a whiter shade of pale, in Melbourne House's Castle of Terror (£9.95, Commodore 64).
There are about 40 graphical screens, some with animation, in this text and pics adventure. The game splits into two separately loadable parts (no mention of this was made in my early copy of the instructions), with some of the best pictures in the second half. Just wait till you enter the castle dungeons and come across remains of adventurers like yourself and you'll see what I mean.
The first half of the game has you strolling around the village where, by talking to the locals you learn that a beautiful maiden has disappeared. "I say old carrot-cruncher, you don't mean to say that she's been kidnapped by C..." "'Tis bad luck to speak his name round these parts, young zur." That dialogue is not in the game but such is the nature of the theme, you can almost hear it.
In the village, locations include an old cottage, the Duck Inn (where "Mine's a pint!" is an order worth noting), a graveyard and a mill. In particular, beware lookalike locations.
There's a good sprinkling of musical effects which add to the atmosphere. The puzzles are not too tough so the game is likely to appeal to the less experienced adventurer. An enjoyable Transylvanian trip.
Adventures come and adventures go but, by the beard of my father's goat, any adventure from Infocom is an event worthy of proclamation by the trumpets of a thousand heralds. Infidel is no exception. The sands of Egypt beckoned as I went on an expedition in search of a famed tomb and riches beyond belief.
I woke up slowly, sat up in my bunk and looked around the tent. My head was pounding, I had a cottony taste in my mouth and my stomach ached - too much foreign spirit last night. The droning of a plane's engine broke the stillness, making me realise that things outside were rather quiet - too quiet.
For some days past, my workmen in this scorching desert had been complaining about the low pay, the lack of food and my incompetence in locating the pyramid. Making them work on a holy day was the last straw - they deserted while I lay in an alcoholic stupor.The professor's map, full of hieroglyphics, seemed worse than useless without any navigational aid. All I could do now was pray I'd been left enough supplies to survive in this searing heat.
Infidel is another atmosphere-charged text adventure, well up to Infocom's standard. Take a look at this extract from the opening scene:
GET OUT OF COT
You push yourself up and manage to get out of the cot. Your legs are a bit wobbly, though, and your head swims. You hear a plane flying high overhead, outside the tent.
You are on an east-west path on the north side of the encampment. To the south you can see a firepit and to the north is the entrance to your tent. Everything is oddly quiet, unsettling, creating a feeling of floating anxiety. The stillness seems to enhance the eerie quality of the desert, the feeling of being truly alone. There is an enlarged hole in the sand, a remnant of your excavation attempts. The plane seems to be circling right overhead.
You're in search of the famed pyramid of Ra with the help of an ancient, barely comprehensible map. As usual, the tale is full of detail and incident. First you must find supplies to keep you alive in the desert. Having located the pyramid, the next problem is finding a way in.
Once inside, you explore several different levels, each with its own set of difficulties. The main objective is to locate the burial chamber and uncover the sarcophagus supposed to be entombed there.
The game comes with plenty of background documentation, including a map - translating the hieroglyphics on it may well be worthwhile. You won't be surprised to learn that there's a mummy and sundry other unpleasantries lurking around.
Infidel doesn't have as many locations as some of Infocom's other adventures, and is probably a fraction easier too. Nevertheless, all the expected features are present from full sentence input to detail-rich descriptions of incidents and places, touched with wit and humour.
A large vocabulary is one of Infocom's trademarks and in Infidel you'll find all the traditional verbs and a few more unusual ones such as COMPARE, INSERT, WEDGE and SLEEP. Disk only, the game is available for a range of micros including the Commodore 64 and Atari.
May the jackals feast on my bones if you don't find Infidel to be another excellent piece of escapism.
If you're starved for inspiration solving Infocom's Deadline here's food for thought. Drawing a blank with the notepad? THGI LOTP UTID LOHR OLIC NEPH TIWT IBUR. Don't know what to do with the desk calandar?
a) SEGE APEH TNRUT
b) MIHW OLLO FNEH TNOO NRET FAEG ROEG OTTI WOHS