Key of Hope is the successor to Tower of Despair reviewed in the December issue of CRASH.
Tower of Despair received a good review mainly due to its coherent plot and its detailed drawings within a booklet which linked up with the text in a novel way. Key of Hope lacks many of the impressive features of that game and, rather curiously, introduces a sparse set of poor, full screen graphics.
True, it can now call itself a graphic adventure, but if this only serves to annoy the reviewer then where is the commercial sense in this? In the first 100 locations there are 4 full screen pictures.
The inclusion of poor graphics will alienate the text purist while disappointing those who expect pictures, where they do occur, to be of the highest quality. The compromise seen here suits no-one.
Having given the low down on first impressions let me say this game is set in Aelandor and does carry over some of the good points from Tower of Despair. Whereas in that first game your character, the Warrior Mage of Castle Argent sets off east, here he is concerned with the Western Marches of Aelandor. Given the familiar starting point you are not allowed the familiarity of the character in Tower of Despair. I n Key of Hope, the White Godess has summoned you to her aid in her fight against the tyrant Malnor, Demonlord of Darkness. But to do her bidding you are catapulted through time where your task is to seek the far-flung pieces of the Key of Hope, the last defence against the shadow of Malnor.
The curious feeling your character experiences in frame one is explained by the fact that you have changed into a new body.
Under your new guise you seek the artef act so potent it could not be left to exist in its assembled form. You must find the key, assemble its four parts and use it before Malnor succeeds in his plan to ravage the entire world.
Ian Livingstone suggests this game is an attempt to bridge the gap between standard adventure games and role playing games. I wonder if this explains the curious repeat locations (gentle rolling plains, and grassland like an enormous green carpet) which loosely link up the areas marked on the map in the guide.
A disappointment is the way in which these repeated locations can end up in a mess. For example, dropping the Talisman in the Mountains of Undying Solitude can see a Talisman follow you around as you try to find a way out. This somewhat shatters the image of wandering and reminds the player its just the computer pushing up a repeat location description.
One unusual aspect on the plus side, is the ability to examine objects to the point of actually seeing them graphically on the screen. The game is short, but this is mostly compensated by the inclusion of two parts on the tape. The problems are fairly few and far between but those you do meet will certainly get you thinking.
Key of Hope retains the marvellous redesigned character set for its text as used in Tower of Despair, and some of the panache of that earlier game's guide. It is not necessary to have played rower of Despair before attempting Key of Hope, but to be honest, someone who began playing with the latter game would be missing the better part of the tales of Aelandor.
: quite difficultGraphics
: on odd occasions and not really worth the bother, except for the graphics of objects which are finePresentation
: very good, with old style writingInput facility
: instantaneous, except where graphics are drawnGeneral Rating: