Some magazines yawn when presented with Quill'd adventures, muttering on about how they all look the same, they're all rubbish, blah-blah-blah. My answer to that is a rude word of eight letters (or seven if you only spell it with one 'L'). I take each adventure as it comes, because many a gem has been written using Quill, and I've got one loaded on my Spectrum right now: Skelvullyn Twine.
A very stylish introduction leads into the three-part tale. Seven options on the opening menu allow you to turn pages to read the story of the lands of Kilver, where the adventure is set, your part in the game, how to get started, a map, an option to turn the nice folksy music on or off, and so on. The graphics on these screens and on the loading screens are brilliantly done, and actually made me regret that the game was text-only - mind you, that's very well done too!
The text tells the tale of Tam Wold, a timber merchant who worked in the woods by the village of Skerrig - and who could be male or female, as it never occurred to the people of Kilver to designate anything, whether it be child-rearing or jobs, according to sex. You are also the Prefect of Skerring, though in six years all you've had to do is arrest one drunk monk! But now a draught has come upon the land, the river has dried up, a character called Tolan who has the secret of making rain has gone missing - and it's all your fault! Or so the villagers start saying, anyway. To summarise a vast amount of background storyline, your task in this adventure is to find Tolan, restore the river and return home.
The first part of the game, Book One, must be completed to get the code to Book Two and so on into Book Three. In Book One you begin in the village and must explore it and try to ignore the glares of the angry villagers. What you can't ignore are the giant hedgehogs guarding the door to Tolan's house, wherein might be a clue to his disappearance. These hedgehogs, and the behaviour of the china pig money-box in your own home, are typical of the game's rather off-beat approach. I enjoyed playing it because I was never quite sure what I was going to meet next - and what it was going to do to me when I did. But everything fits together nicely, and I like the way that objects can be used for more than one purpose, not always as an essential part of the game but sometimes just to add a bit of extra fun.
Book One is reasonably easy to complete, which gives everyone a chance to see a chunk of the game. But the next two bits do get harder and all three together add up to a very smart and value-for-money adventure.
STOP PRESS: This adventure was originally sent in by author Peter Pointon, a YS reader, who said he was publishing it himself due to lack of response from the commercial software houses he'd submitted it to. I wrote back to let him know I'd be giving it a good review, and this encouraged him to try again. He sent it to 8th Day, who snapped it up for instant publication, leaving me just enough time to alter the fax box. I always knew 8th Day had good taste!