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Mandarin Software
Keith Milner
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

This is a well-written epic text adventure - or at least that's the author's modest claim, though quite how it can be more epic than any other game written with The Quill I'm not sure. The opening screen is a quote from T.S. Eliot, "This is the way the world ends... not with a bang but a whimper." from, it is claimed, The Waste Land published in 1925. Well The Waste Land was published in 1922 and this quote is from The Hollow Men, published 1925. Sorry for nit-picking, but if you're going to make literary references, you'd better get them right!

The references continue almost from the start. Check your opening inventory and you discover you're carrying coins, a sandwich and a handkerchief. EXAMINE HANDKERCHIEF. "Are the Tigers of Wrath wiser than the Horses of Instruction? Kilroy was here. I think... therefore I am. And many writings in strange languages I cannot understand." Well, that's what I like, a sensible response. I assume this is meant to be what you get if you examine the graffiti that's referred to in the location description.

I won't go into the long preamble about the destruction of civilisation and your part in its rescue, but after starting the game in a city location you're pretty soon whisked through space to a hall where some aliens are about to do the dirty on you. I made a quick exit into what looked like a maze, and decided to see if I still had anything with me. INVE produced the coins, sandwiches, handkerchief... and a location description. Then I was whisked away again and discovered I was a jackdaw locked in a parrot's cage, with seed, water and a door closed with a strong spring. EAT SEED. OK, it said. DRINK WATER. OK, it said. EAT DOOR. OK, it said, though I still couldn't get out that way.

I escaped by a different means and encountered a tramp who offered to tell me his story.

As you make your way up to and hopefully across the Cara River, you'll encounter quaintly named creatures like the Urga-Mauls, Quargs and Cavezats, most of which will gladly attack you soon as look at you, so if you like a bit of a bash with your brain-scratching Kentilla will do the trick.