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Stephen Wadsworth
Stephen Wadsworth
1987
Adventure: Text
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Undetermined

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92,93
Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

The John Peel slot here - no-one has quite picked up on this game as yet, so presumably many software houses who've received it might well look here to see what I thought of it. The Guest is a very competent game and this is in no small way due to its very safe background - ie The Quill, Illustrator and Patch: most of the game was in fact written before their successor, PAW, became available. However, there is a niggle even if its source is fully explained by the author himself: due to the use of airbrush and inverse airbrush effects, which give the pictures above the text more texture, the graphics appear slowly and this proves irritating when trying to move the pace on a little over familiar ground. Apart from this qualification, much is as you'd expect - the coherent plot and setting taking their inspiration from the ghoul-ridden and vampire-infested works of Bram Stoker and Stephen King.

The adventure seems very long and is set over two parts, the second being the more difficult. At the start of Part Two you type in a set of codes which must correspond to some useful items from Part One. Because I fluffed one of the entries, I had to make do without my fragment, an important item from the first episode.

The notes accompanying my review game were truly marvellous and included maps and some rather interesting plans of Riverpoint Castle overlooking the Fief Of Riverpoint.

These lands are owned by the Bistrize family, headed by a Count and Countess. The Count has fallen ill with an inexplicable malady and the Countess turns to you, The Guest, her personal champion and servant fighter, to sort things out.

Things are pretty bad when you arrive. The villagers have shut themselves in the village hall to avoid their brethren who have joined the undead roaming the area: at the start of the adventure, their strength is almost exhausted and their morale low as no-one has seen the Priest Canen for three days. No doubt you, the hero, can turn things around with a nice pot of strong tea.

The other character in this adventure is Hara, the Wise Woman or Grey Sorceress - 'grey' because her magic is not fully white and not potent enough to vanquish the Nosferatu, the magical demon behind all the queer goings-on.

Hara is a useful first stop on your investigative trail: it is she who puts forward the theory that the Nosferatu is behind the count's sudden fall from good health and his journey into the twilight world of the undead.

To complete the adventure your thankless task is to rid the village of all these ghostly undead beings floating around, penetrate the castle's defences, destroy the Nosferatu, and round off the lot with a mystery bonus mission.

Playing the game you immediately become aware of the slow graphics, but the redesigned character set is atmospheric, if a little difficult to read. Particularly difficult are the runes that represent your input: these are so hard to decipher that you are never quite sure if you have made a typing error.

The location descriptions aren't the most interesting I've ever read and where they do tend to wax lyrical you'll normally find them repeated often, along with the lines 'you can hear the birds singing' or 'the east sky is lit with the orange dawn light of the sun'. You're often told about the position and quality of the light, which I suppose adds some flavour to the game.

The Guest is rather a good Quilled game. It has very little in the way of earthshatteringly original features but, as with all games written on utilities, it shows a certain competence. The slow pictures are the exception: only one seems to have warranted all the effort expended in the airbrush technique which is responsible for the delays. In conclusion: a good theme and good playability, but the programming is perhaps just a little boring.

CRITICISM

COMMENTS
DIFFICULTY: Part One reasonably easy, Part Two much tougher
GRAPHICS: stipple effect, average
PRESENTATION: decidedly average
INPUT FACILITY: verb/noun
RESPONSE: Quill, but graphics slow
General Rating: Competent, but perhaps a trifle dull.

65%
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Screenshot Text

It's a case of Quilled until undead as you search for the Nosferatu, hidden in the shadowy world of The Guest.