Sorderon's Shadow is a major new epic, complete with a cast of thousands and glorious landscaped sets.Peter Freebrey becomes the un-named one and prepares for an adventure...
Beyond's latest saga is not a game to be trifled with. Over 4,000 locations and a claimed 30,000 graphics screens - remind you of anything? That's right - it uses the landscaping techniques pioneered by Mike Singleton in Lords of Midnight. Only this time, it's also a full blooded adventure which understands complex text commands and has all manner of people and creatures in it - both good and bad - all doing their own thing. And of course, there's a hefty storyline for you to digest before you stand a chance of playing the game.
Sorderon, not content with being an evil wizard, has discovered the secret of immortality, slain the rightful king of Elindor and now rules the land with fear and torment. All those faithful to the king have been slain or transformed. All who are known to him risk his terrible vengeance - fear stalks the day and death follows by night (Calm down! Ed). Under his rule, Elindor is dying.
But there's hope. One of the Lords of Elindor has for years been calling across the cosmos for an 'unknown warrior' who'll rid the land of Sorderon's evil shadow. All pretty standard stuff and nothing to thrill you to death. Until you discover that the unknown warrior is you! Your job is to singlehandedly rid Elindor of its tyrant. To do this, you must complete, in order, nine separate tasks which lead to his downfall. This might seem a bit steep but it does at least give you some chance of succeeding in an otherwise strange and deadly land.
The 14-page manual is a great help and will be essential to complete the game - as is a speech in the early stages that was omitted from our review copy! The manual sets out the tasks and describes the major characters and objects. There's also a complete map of Elindor which is crucial even though some of the windmills and igloos have been replaced by huts. P'raps the climate changed or maybe the programmers ran out of memory...
Keep a close watch on where you are and what's in front of you or you may well find yourself dead! Bogs and marshes are no place for the newcomer. You'll also come across many different creatures on your travels, mostly hostile. Pay careful attention to that part of the instructions dealing with 'the nine tasks of the un-named one', 'characters' and 'objects'. You'd be wise to remember the names of the goodies and baddies 'cos if you kill the wrong one... you're done for!
Talking about 'the nine tasks' - these lead you through the adventure and without them you won't stand a snowball's chance in hell. As the hero you must complete these nine tasks, seven in the correct order and the other two at any time.
Cryptic verse and character speech will appear throughout play. These clues should aid you in your quest and the instruction booklet will provide you with further information when you're really stuck!
The range of gruesome creatures in Sorderon's Shadow is truly amazing and their graphical representation brilliant. You'll meet anything from a manic treeblower (eh?) to a healer called Morkoth. These two characters are actually quite useful but you'll meet a lot of nasties too, such as the Thornman, Sandman, Krillan and the Dunecrawlers.
Elindor is a large land and it'll take quite a bit of time to trek across from one side to another. If some evil doer puts the boot in and you die you'll have to repeat that journey again - unless of course you've saved your position onto tape.
Should you meet with death the computer appears to 'hang' and none of the keys work. It's actually waiting for you to load in a saved position, though it doesn't actually tell you this in the instructions. You did save as you travelled didn't you?
Don't be too surprised when some of the creatures you meet don't want to go away - this happens a lot and not only does it slow the game but if you can't satisfy their wishes you may find they decide to dispense with your services. Nasty eh? It's a good idea to move through the night though you must watch your strength as well as where you walk - you may not see that marsh up ahead...
Sorderon's Shadow is one complex adventure, so if you like 'em big - get out your trusty sword, don your hiking boots and don't forget to leave a note for the milkman...
Balord Aravor can he summoned in the church of Balomir. He'll outline your quest. Keep in with Aravor - he'll be a great help later.
The wicked witch of the west, Larras, is an evil old hag but she'll swop something you need for something she needs. It's a case of you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
Tracker holds a very special stone, the Orb of Caradach, which reveals the means to overthrow the evil wizard Sorderon.
Samus the winged horse desires Krok leaves, which can be found to the north. Pay him well and he'll lead you to the woodcutter's tool.
Caradach's friend Manic holds something you want. You must return this object to it's rightful owner in order to receive the first part of Sorderon's bane.
You'll have to seek Hydral, prince of Bagul, to gain an object desired by Morkoth the healer. Give this to himand he'll help you speak to Kerral.
The text window shows what's going on and what you're carrying - in this case the Eternal Flame, Horseshoe of Zephyr and the Urn of Perception - in usual adventure style.
Watch the numbskull... It's a clock! When it rises completely out of the flames, it's midnight and the Krillan hordes take to the street looking tor action. Best to REST until daybreak.Core! This half-eaten apple shows your remaining strength. If it's white, you're on top of the world. Green means you're feeling a bit weedy and if it turns blue, you'd better watch it!Samus, the winged horse, has a definite craving for Krok leaves and you're well advised to find him some. Keep Samus happy and he'll show you the woodcutter's tool!
Innit pretty? The landscaping window shows you where you are - here, you're inside Tracker's hut. The window updates itself regularly and is capable of 30000 different views!
This window names the type of landscape you're in together with the region you're in. So here you are in a hut (wow, I'd never have spotted that) In the Highveld region.Oh dear - the apple's gone a moudly blue colour! You're pretty low on strength - if you don't watch it, you'll be attacked by a Dunecrawler and you won't be able to fight back.These three are Tracker, Retriever and the Skeleton. The Tracker comes in very useful in the fifth task as he knows the whereabouts of the Orb of Caradach, a stone gifted with the knowledge of how to overthrow Sorderon.
You've got one line to enter your commands - they can be quite complex like this one and you've got a vocabulary of 750 words to go all. One neat trick is the ability to instantly recall any of your last three commands using a sentence store feature.
Enter Manic Treeblower (Manic who?) and the Thornman. Old prickly features has a prickly nature too so don't mess with him unless you're feeling strong!Refusals appear here - so if you've bodged up a command or the program can't understand you, you can still see the command you tried...You could always try asking! Sorry, but in Elindor you rarely get something for nothing and you're going to have to come up with a better deal than this.