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PSS
Paul Hutchinson
1985
Arcade: Maze
£6.95
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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42
Chris Bourne

The name Covenant refers to a long lost parchment which carries the entire cultural record of a long dead people, a race whose once proud members have now mutated and been scattered, along with fragments of the Covenant among the 256 caverns of a subterranean horrorscape contained within a planet. You are the last survivor of the race, and as such it is your duty to find the 64 pieces of parchment and restore the knowledge that it bears. You must also gather the poor miserable mutant creatures from within the caverns, so that when you have the complete parchment the planet surface can be repopulated.

Alone you may be, but unaided you're not. Your equipment includes a globe (for getting about in) and a stun gun. Now it may seem odd that the wretched creatures you are trying so hard to rescue need to be stunned, but it's safe to assume that at this stage they have no idea what you are up to so they tend to regard you as an enemy.

The globe itself isn't a bundle of fun to manoeuvre its movement is designed to mimic that of submerged bodies, ie awkward. Whenever you or your globe come into contact with a creature energy will be drained, so the first task in any cavern is to stun the creatures within and take them on board by manoeuvring your craft over them.

The whole cave system is divided up into blocks of four rooms. Each area has a key, a piece of the Covenant and some anaesthetic. Get the anaesthetic for the stun gun so you can capture the critters, which you must do, because you can only move into the next area when they've all been rounded up.

You only have one life so you must be careful not to get too close to the creatures, especially when you are not in the globe the rate at which you lose energy increases. Fortunately you can recharge by standing on a power point.

At any stage of the game you can inspect the status screen by pressing the space bar. This screen shows how much of the parchment you have collected, your energy level and how many objects (keys etc) and creatures you have gathered. A record of the time and score is also displayed.

CRITICISM

'As the ratings may well show, getting started on this game was far from easy. The instructions showed the anaesthetic to be a sponge like blob, but in fact for the first area it looked more like a bowl of flowers, and there was a bowl of flowers on another screen. A take perhaps. The game itself has some very well drawn and colourful graphics. The movement of the character and the globe take a lot of getting used to, but that's all part of the game. On the whole I found this to be a reasonably difficult game but this was mostly due to the 'bad' handling of the craft. I have a feeling that this is a game to keep all of you mappers hard at work. Overall pretty addictive but don't expect to finish it too soon.'

'I have to admit that l found this a very difficult game to complete and I 'm not sure that the reasons for this are good ones. The characters are very difficult to control and the initial supply of energy wouldn't be enough to get a C5 down the hallway. I suppose that is really the challenge of it, one is expected to learn how to control the characters and have the foresight to find a recharge point in time. Nevertheless the graphics are very good and lam sure that the game is interesting enough to make the hard work required worthwhile'

'This is not an easy game to play. The movement of the globe is almost unpredictable, as it is meant to be, but it's still pretty confusing. When the character leaves the globe he is pretty happy just pottering around the floor of the cavern, but cannot be controlled when floating upwards. I have decided that there really isn't enough energy for the first part of the game - I know there are power points available but I 'm sure I would have made more progress if a difficulty level had been provided. On the whole this is a very attractive game; there is a great deal to see and it should keep the patient and persistent going for a long time to come.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: any
Keyboard play: good
Use of colour: very good
Graphics: great
Sound: a little distressing at times
Skill levels: one
Lives: one but can be re-charge energy
Screens: 256
General Rating: An inspired bu difficult game.

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