Before you can start playing Valhalla it's worth ploughing through the readable instruction booklet, not only to find out what you can do, when and where, but also to meet some of the more important characters who partake of your adventure.
The book tells you that you can have great fun simply watching Valhalla, and issuing commands to the characters. This turns out to be true in part. Life in the Nordic haven carries on much like Coronation Street with the inhabitants quarrelling, fighting each other, offering food and generally behaving as if they were in the Rover's Return. But in the end this palls and you feel itchy to get into the action. There are six quests to find special objects; ofnir (a key), drapnir (a ring), skornir (a shield), skaltr (a sword), Felstrong (an axe) and fri mnir (a helmet).
Finding these magical objects is not simple, and some, if discovered, must be deposited safely as you can't carry all of them together. Added to that, if you die. which happens easily enough, you are sent to Hell (not to 'would you like another game') which turns out to be a location or two away from the more ordinary delights of Asgaard of whatever. Unfortunately if you go to Hell most of the things you've collected are removed from you and distributed randomly around the various locations, so you have to start all over.
When this is seen in the context of coping with large numbers of beings who are either well or badly disposed towards you, you begin to realise the complexity of even surviving in Valhalla, let alone finding the hidden objects. Getting on with our fellow Valhallans is surprisingly realistic. Unlike The Hobbit you can't type in 'Say hello to Elrond,' and expect a happy response but you can offer food or wine (which abounds - all over the floor), you can offer to sell or buy objects since you have money, swords, axes, shields etc. These are merely ordinary ones, not those you are questing for. And you can start fights only too easily.
All this activity is clearly visible in the remarkable graphics. Well drawn and highly detailed backgrounds form the scene in which the animated characters move around. If you type in, 'drink the wine', you will see 'yourself ' raise the flagon to 'your' lips. At times it can be like Piccadilly Circus on a weekend as characters arrive and exit by the bus load.
Moving from location to location is simply a question of entering the compass point direction and a WHERE command will always supply the visible exits if you have forgotten them. Moving around within a location is done by the use of 'I' and 'r'. In some locations there are celestial under- .grounds. If you have managed to pick up a ring (ordinary type) you can use these ringways to get to another location. Although if you're drawing a map of Valhalla, this can be less than useful, since you don't know where you are when you get there.
Valhalla comes complete with very good instructions. Loading time is four minutes. Keyboard response is fast, and a useful function is that you can type in commands at any time. If an action of some sort is taking place the computer waits and then processes your command when ready.
'Compared to any other adventure game I've seen, the graphics of Valhalla are fabulous. It seems incredible that they have managed to pack so much detail into 48K. The scenery has a real sense of depth.'
'Considering how much detail there already is in the backgrounds, I'm astonished that the animation of the characters is as detailed as it is. I think my favourite is the Raven, who flaps his way in and lands occasionally. My basic disappointment with Valhalla stems from its coldness. Despite all the things "you" can do, the life of the place seems to go on without you. Apart from dying of starvation I found I could stand still for ages and no one bothered with me. There's a touch of a travelogue about it all - just walking about seeing things and eating loads of food. I think it might have had a better impact if there was more danger immediately.'
'A lot of program, no doubt about it, but much less excitement than I thought there would be. Still, if you like adventure games, this one is going to keep you occupied for hours and hours. '
: excellentUse of colour
: subtle and complex, excellentGraphics
: averageGeneral Rating:
An excellent program all round, which has gone further with graphics than any adventure game yet, but with reservations about the ultimate appeal of the quest, and an expensive game to buy.
Stunning graphics in Asgard.