Personal Computer News6th October 1984
Published in Personal Computer News #081
You know Avalon is something special from the moment you clap eyes on the first screen. Set in a mystical, magical atmosphere the border alone is impressive. At bottom left there's a red, winged devil, while at the right a white winged human figure helps support the scroll on which game details appear.
At the left there's a serpent coiled round a staff, to the right a green, blue bellied dragon, while at the top a skull holds court. You appear as a white wraith - the astral projection of Maroc the Mage. Your task is to seek out the Lord of Chaos inside the hill of Avalon on the Isle of Glass.
There are choices for Kempston, AGF or Sinclair joysticks, and a fair selection of keys for keyboard control. But this is one of those games where you'll need a stick - or you won't stand a chance.
Beginning as a novice lore seeker you establish control of the wraith by pressing ENTER twice. The first time is to select a spell from the list shown on the scroll at the foot of the screen, the second to activate that spell. At the foot of the screen a long tongue of flame shows your energy level. And with the ability to only move, off you go on your adventure.
Your viewpoint is always the back wall of each room, Maroc's spirit floats about more or less mid-screen. Its movement is ethereal, a sort of gentle gliding and floating motion, very easy once you get the hang of it. As you move around, so the room's perspective is adjusted. This is very well done indeed.
To pass through a door, you touch the handle, the door swings open and through you go. Best policy here is to draft into it, back off as it opens then glide through. It can be very frustrating at first, when you're continually opening doors, misjudging movement and closing the door as you try to pass through!
On your travels you'll come across various parchments. Collect these like a greedy squirrel - they're spells which will allow you to summon up a servant, freeze any nasties about to terminate your mission and so on.
As you pass over spells they're added to the spell scroll and you can select one by moving an arrow to the spell you want. Also shown on the scroll are a number of tokens which indicate how many more times the spell may be used. Pressing ENTER again activates the spell.
You'll need the servant spell to gain access to some other spells hidden in chests, and being a projection you lack the necessary corporeal substance to open chests. There are background and foreground spells, background spells continue while you activate other spells; the invisibility spell 'Unseen' is one of these.
One nice thing about being an astral projection is that you can't die - once your energy is sapped you simply start again. When your energy has been trained you ascend to the skies, revolving as you go - just another indication of the attention to detail throughout the game. You can save a game and pick up where you left off.
There are 16 main ranks, from Lore Seeker, through Magician and Warlock to Lore Lord. Each of these is subdivided into eight stages, from Apprentice through Learned to Supreme.
This one's a winner; its good graphics and compulsive action mean it should be in the charts.