I loaded up Heroes of Karn from Interceptor with trepidation. I found the earlier program Jewels of Babylon about as exciting as Eastbourne on a Sunday night. Fortunately, the new adventure is a different kettle of fish, though with some reservations.
The setting is pretty typical - the mighty heroes of the title have been overwhelmed by the dark forces of chaos and magically imprisoned in various forms. You, a stranger from a world of thinking machines and the like, must rescue them from the thrall of darkness and restore them to their true likenesses. I'm unsure about the thinking machine bit but we all accept a modicum of poetic licence now and again, I suppose.
The game is a graphic adventure and there are some very smart pictures sprinkled around the locations - probably not as many as in the original CBM 64 version but beautifully drawn nevertheless. However, pictures still do not make an adventure.
You start in a field in a deserted landscape. Problems appear quickly and it is not too long before you run into what is undoubtedly the first of the metamorphosed heroes - a frog no less, who can be transformed in the time-honoured way after you have disposed of a particularly irritating swamp lizard. Within a score of moves you meet barrowights, venal castle guards, a pirate and even a giant clam.
Like its bejewelled predecessor the program's general style can be aggravating. The description will scroll up, up and away as soon as you make an entry, making for a lot of retyping of 'Look' if you are of vaguely amnesiac dispositions. On the positive side, you can use prepositions such as 'with' enabling you to choose a weapon for a fight or offer items of bribery to creatures of all species.
Allies can also be spoken to in an easier way than in truly 'interactive' games though the characters do not lead fully independent lives. I must admit that this is a bonus as I find the behaviour of characters in games like The Hobbit to be desperately unpredictable and annoying.
As far as action and events are concerned Heroes of Karn is an improvement on interceptor's earlier offerings. It does not compare in complexity with the Level 9 style but should be quite appealing to adventurers in their novitiate.