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8th Day Software
1988
Adventure: Text
£5.50
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 128K
None

74,75
Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Those 8th Day adventurists are here again, with their usual value-for-money package. Apart from a 20-page booklet and the main game in its two 128K parts, you get two separate playable demo's of forthcoming titles (Ardonicus III and The Weaver Of Her Dreams) and a bonus program. 'How to Play Adventure Games.' New players with a 128K machine start here.

The Raven is the first of a promised series of "Detective Tales", and in this you get a chance to play Sherlock Holmes yet again. As the latest Infocom game also features a Sherlock story, there's obviously life in the old 'tec yet. And he's conveniently out of copyright, of course! (I wonder, when Holmes indulges in his notorious opium habit, does that makes him a high tec?)

This story begins with Holmes at home in Baker Street, when the inevitable letter arrives. This one's from a Professor Vybes, known for his interest in the criminal mind, and he's invited Holmes to be present at the announcement of a remarkable new method for treating the criminally insane (though it doesn't specifically mention YS readers). The announcement is to take place at The Manor, Claxton Grove, on Friday at 7 o'clock. The letter's dated Wednesday 11, 1893, and is conveniently reprinted in the booklet.

The game is played against the clock, and you can switch between two time modes using FAST and SLOW commands. You'll really need to study the booklet as The Raven is a pretty complex game. FAST can be used when not much is happening, and SLOW when things get a bit chaotic, but of course you'll have to experiment first to discover which is best. The day and time are displayed on-screen, and you'll find out right at the start how things work, as you're in a bookshop just before 6 pm on Friday. If you wait around too long you see the clock tick away, till at six the proprietor politely turfs you out and locks the door so you can't get back in. But where's that cloaked stranger who entered and left the bookshop in that short space of time? If you follow him he seems to disappear in the graveyard. Is this an early glimpse of the Raven?

The game is written with PAW and so the parser copes with most things you can throw at it, like GET THE BLACK BOMB AND OPEN THE MATCHBOX AND GET THE MATCH THEN LIGHT THE BOMB WITH THE MATCH AND THROW THE BOMB AT THE AARDVARK THEN QUICKLY RUN WEST. You can, indeed must, talk to the other characters in the adventure, and the scale of a 128K game is shown by the fact that one of these characters has 10K set aside just for himself. To think that whole adventures have been written in less space than that!

8/10