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Games Workshop
Adventure: RPG
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Journey's End describes itself as a Sword and Sorcery adventure but is probably better described as a hotch-potch of three mini-games strung together. In Part One you move your character around a dungeon in what amounts to a poor man's version of Out of the Shadows, with your lantern lighting the way before you. I say 'poor man's' because the lighting effects are crude when compared to Shadows and the feel of the game is not as air-tight with points lost and gained willy-nilly.

Part Two sees you and your party travelling up a map searching for a way across the river you meet half way up it. Part Three has you roaming the corridors and chambers of a castle. The poor quality of the first game is a shame since the trilogy as a whole has some redeeming features. The local sage Thorvald tells you of your father's quest to banish the evil curse on the emperor which keeps him bed-ridden with the hell-fever. The object of his quest was the Elixir of Hagar the Demonic, an elixir named after the scoundrel who set the curse upon the emperor. Part One sees you continue your father's quest from a dungeon on the edge of the empire.

Part One is a rather poor game where the cursor keys are used to propel your little character around a dungeon lighted around you by your lamp. Presumably, as you make your way, you fix lights to the walls, as once lit any part of the dungeon you have visited remains lit. There are two parameters by which you can judge your progress. At the top of the screen you are kept informed on the tally of gold pieces you possess (found scattered around in money bags, in the form of gems, or as gold dust in bottles) while next to this is the state of your character's strength.

The standard of presentation throughout these games is generally very slick but on this occasion your gold tally can cause the display to jump or even wrap around onto the next line should it grow too large. As you move about, your character is subjected to various nasties like mysterious arrows shooting from walls, low rooves banging your head or even collapsing upon you, rocks tripping you up or bottles exploding on you when what you expected was a refreshing drink. Some of these fates may not sound too horrific but when you consider that each represents a significant loss in strength points, and a score of 0 means death, then you feel each and every blow that comes your way. In addition, opening doors before you have found the key for that level's doors requires strength and so you may well consider it unwise to open any doors before finding the all-important key (this key also allows you to leave the level and teleport to another).

The over-riding factor with this first part of the adventure is luck rather than skill. Where you might bang your head, or whether a bottle you open contains a healing potion or poison is totally arbitrary. Thus the game reduces to no more than keeping a cursor key depressed until progress is barred by some report or other. There is literally no skill which you can bring to bear on the game. You leave this part by way of a genie from a bottle offering freedom or by way of steps chosen randomly from a level. If, like myself, you tire quickly of this first part you'd be wise not to refuse the genie's kind offer (indeed, I can see many of you reading this review simply in order to work out just how you do escape this wretched part of the adventure).

If you survive Part One which, considering the pitfalls just waiting to decimate your meagre strength points, is no easy matter, you then must advertise and then select the best mercenaries to take with you into Part Two. One diversion at this stage is the Gambling Option which allows you to gamble some of your gold coins on a curious selection of rodent race meetings with names like The Ratokill Classic or some such other humorous titles. There is more humour when changing from one part to another when Arfin Goldbeard says 'There is one thing you must do to continue your quest'. What is that?' you ask. 'Press any key and start the tape' Arnfin replies. Part Two of this game has some very noble features whereby the six characters you've chosen to accompany you on your mission search for food and attack the enemies you meet in rather impressive combat routines.

Journey's End is the type of adventure where progress through the various terrains is achieved by pressing a cursor key. It consists of three parts which are linked by a transfer of gold, strength and members of your party which you select from advertising paid from the proceeds of your booty or gambling. Part One is very arbitrary with no skill involved, Part Two slightly less so as you do need to take care over your route through the landscape, whom within your party you choose to fight in the front line, and which members of your party should reap the benefits of any food found. Sleep will conserve strength but two men must guard the party.


Difficulty: tricky in places
Graphics: good in places
Presentation: good (in places)
Input Facility: cursor key movement and number options
Response: yes
General Rating: Part One - very poor. The rest is quite interesting.