THE HAUNTED HOUSE
Richard Price finds himself in limbo as he looks for a time machine.
MOST MONTHS the games sent in for review tend to be a mixed bag and usually only one or two stand out from the general run of average productions. This month is exceptional as all five programs reviewed are either excellent, value for money, break new ground or restate old values. Whatever the depth of your pocket you should find at least one that suits you or your wallet.
The large scale text-only game has gone underground lately and graphics have come forward as the favoured element in adventures. Mordon's Quest bucks this trend and is a welcome return, with long flavoursome descriptions and a vast feeling of space.
The program is a sequel to Melbourne House's Classic Adventure and is written by the same author, John Jones-Steele. There are over 150 locations and, according to the blurb, more than 400 words in the vocabulary. The presentation is a restful white text on a black background with your inputs scrolling up in yellow.
The quest begins in a strange and sparsely furnished house set in the swirling mists of a time limbo. Logical exploration reveals little at first but, if you are curious enough, a fall from a height will leave you nauseous and predisposed to concussed visions. So appears Mordon the Ancient One, swathed in light. He asks you to take on the search for the lost pieces of an immortality device - your success will save the universe from assured destruction.
With the aid of a transporter unit and torch you set off into the mists. Sure enough you quickly enter a steaming jungle full of ancient ruins. After passing the mandatory patch of quicksand, you will run into a cannibal pygmy who can be disposed of by making a weapon from the bits and pieces found lying around in the jungle. Don't forget the pygmy as you journey - the carnivorous plants can be placated by a spot of judicious feeding!
The search now begins in earnest and, though you will discover some treasure and the first part of Mordon's machine quite quickly, you'll need to put in some serious thinking to progress into the other areas of the game.
The descriptions are excellent, full of atmosphere and needing no pictures to help them. When you arrive at the temple in the heart of the ruinous city you see a lake... "you walk to the lake and dive in. After swimming for several minutes you find yourself at a small outcrop of black rock. Looking around you, you see the perfect circle of the lake, surrounded by the ruined city and in turn the lush jungle. As you view the scenery you feel almost as if you are standing at the centre of a beautiful all-seeing eye."
This literate and evocative text is typical of the game as a whole and the detail encourages exploration and experiment. I have no doubt that many clues are hidden in this wealth of description. Don't think of the lack of graphics as a loss - just give three cheers for text compression and expect some good hunting!
Publisher: Melbourne House