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Games Workshop
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Richard Price
Chris Bourne

There is another double feature this month - this time from Games Workshop.

Runestone is, as far as I know, the only game to date which combines the kind of graphic countryside pioneered in Lords of Midnight with a regular text adventure interpreter.

The legions of darkness in this game are commanded by Kordomir the Dark One. To overcome this evil you must find the Runestone but you will have to search the length and breadth of the Northern Wastes to get help from the Mages of Belorn and the secrets of Saromunder. Orcs are everywhere but there are also allies along the way.

You control three characters in turn, each can be sent on their own journeys among the mountains, lakes and meadowlands of Belorn. There are towers, huts, pavilions and caves which can be entered and dragonships for the lake crossings. Other characters live their own lives while you dither over where to go next.

You needn't go all out to crush the nasty Kordomir if you don't feel like it - there are the treasures of Belorn to be found, the bitter joy of battle against the ores or else you can simply wander around and take in the sights - my favourite, I have to confess. With about 2000 locations and four views to each that's quite a lot of looking.

The graphics are quite like those in Midnight and you move in the direction which takes your fancy. The features advance and recede as you move. The location picture takes up the top half of the screen and the text buffer scrolls up beneath it.

Commands can be strung together with commas and many can be abbreviated, which means you can move through the country very fast if necessary. Up to 63 characters can be entered at any one time so you can type your instructions in with some fluency. The text interpreter only seems to understand the first three letters of each word - this can result in confusion at times.

The three heroes are Morval the Warrior, Eliador the Elf and Greymarel the Wizard. Other folk are generally individuals and I found no armies in the part of Belnor I explored. The game is more traditional adventure than strategy - no bad thing in my book.

You cannot take control of the subsidiary characters and I found them tough to converse with - that is no criticism as interactive characters are a bonus, even in text-only games.

Runestone is an intriguing combination of ideas and formats. The orcs are particularly unpleasant and the combat routines fast and furious. The heroes each have their own cross to bear and their own skills. And watch out for Skrimnal who will rip you off something rotten!

Publisher: Games Workshop
Memory: 48K
Price: £7.95