DESPITE adversities, the evil Magra and her creators, Carnell Software, have survived to offer inveterate adventure game players further mind-bending challenges. Long-awaited, The Wrath of Magra takes the adventure program one step nearer to full role-playing scenarios.
As in other Carnell adventures there are three episodes, each a program in its own right. Successful completion of one will provide the data password into the next.
With the package comes The Book of Shadows, a lengthy chronicle densely packed with information on the world of Magra. The second part of the book catalogues the creatures who inhabit this dangerous world. Attached to the creature catalogue is a grimoire, a book of spells. By careful study the player will learn how and when to gather magical ingredients and how to combine them to create spells which can be stored for combat or defence.
Although the Princess Edora was rescued from the Volcanic Dungeon she remained bewitched. Magra's body was returned to the Black Mountains by her Ice Giants and there restored to a demoniac travesty of life. Her powers are intact and she now thirsts for revenge. No one dares face her but you, driven as you are by the need to bring Edora back to the world of light.
At the beginning of the first episode you are placed in the valley of Di'Lief, where magic is powerless. Here you will have the opportunity to collect or purchase weapons or magical items and to find the way into the mines beneath the Black Mountains. The second episode takes you through those grim caverns where fearful monsters roam, guarding the entry into Magra's fortress. In the third and final part the adventurer must brave further savage creatures to encounter and destroy the witch herself. There are prizes for the first twenty successful warriors.
The screen display is in three pans. At the upper left appear the graphics. In the first episode pictures of the locations are shown, in the second the monsters are depicted, and in the final episode a map of the castle.
The upper right of the screen holds the status indicator, showing strength in points, spiritual power and faith. To make spells effectively the player needs faith and the more spells are cast the higher the faith value becomes. The time of day is displayed along with the phase of the moon. Certain spells can only be made in a particular phase and the player must take care to avoid wasting ingredients and power by performing magic at the wrong time.
A combat percentage is given which tells you what your chance of defeating an adversary is. The bottom half of the screen is for information and input, in standard text adventure style.
The computer keeps three main inventories for the player. There is the normal list of equipment and treasure and two specialised lists of magic phials, which contain spell ingredients, and spell cloths. Those cloths hold prepared spells ready for use in combat or similar situations.
The response to input is quite slow, but any Dungeons and Dragons fans will forgive this minor problem as the game is highly complex. In fact, the interpreter will take long entries of up to 59 characters which gets round the slow response time and cuts down on stop-start keyboard routines. Commands are also linkable.
A separate combat mode is used which not only takes account of spells and weaponry but balances strength and defence capabilities, similar to the routines used in Volcanic Dungeon.
Carnell have obviously made every effort to include as many aspects of role playing games as possible. Those efforts seem to have paid off. The Wrath of Magra takes a different direction from games like The Hobbit or Valhalla and acts as a Dungeonmaster for the player. Its sophistication should not be measured in terms of its ability to understand long sentences but by its strength in allowing the player to develop a comprehensive character whose identity will depend on conscious decisions and choices, not simply programmed chance.