There's bound to be something nasty hiding in the forest north of Thryll Town. As a seasoned adventurer ? Meet Mrs Mop it's hardly the sort of thing to put you off, but as you enter the cool and leafy environment, your heart pounds nevertheless. Who knows what may be in store?
The ensuing journey winds from wizard's cottage through thickets and scrub, long grass and pine trees, a stone circle and a series of caves to the centre of the forest realm. Locations are accompanied intermittently by forgettable monochrome illustrations which take a while to re-draw. With a couple of exceptions they don't really enhance the sparse and minimalist location text.
A functional scenario hides a comparatively ordinary set of puzzles. Once you've found the mysterious spellbook in the wizard's kitchen, most of the rest of the adventure consists of collecting the correct ingredients (frogs, snakes, furry fwoobles, mouldy carrots etc) in order to cast spells to gather more ingredients. Characters ranging from an extremely thirsty nomad, to a hungry but musical little girl, will provide you with the appropriate object only if you help them first. What follows is a frantic round of search and exchange which soon begins to lose its appeal. As each individual defines exactly what he needs by name, you don't even get the chance to work out what exactly it is he wants.
An element of danger adds a little spice to what would otherwise become an even more mundane and monotonous trek. Collect the ingredients in the wrong order or get caught in some of the forest's natural hazards, and your quest comes to a sudden and sometimes sticky end. The procedure becomes something of a logic problem as you try to work out which of the nastier (troll. giant spider etc) you have the power to tackle first. Get it wrong and your adventure in the sinister forest realm is doomed.
Even for a budget game, the parser is extremely limited. It accepts approximately 16 verbs and no complex commands. There is a SAVE option, though no RAMSAVE and you can turn the pictures off for faster play. As the puzzles are so basic, the lack of flexibility doesn't matter that much. Simple commands solve simple problems.
The Realm might work as an introduction to adventuring for a very green beginner. The more experienced won't find it much of a challenge. Exploring and swapping objects is quite entertaining at first and there are one or two interesting features, but on the whole it's unlikely that any initial appeal will last. Considering the quality of some of the home-grown adventures on offer at the moment, you'd probably he happier spending your money on those.
Knock on the door and see what's inside.