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Venom Games
Mark Lane
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Derek Brewster
Chris Bourne

Earth is in near-total darkness. The reason? Repsilak, Prince of the Shadowdwarves and lord of all Shroudworlde, has invaded the upper lands from his domain deep beneath the ground. His objective is to claim the upper lands as part of his kingdom, for then he would be the supreme leader of all Dargonscrypt, a large separate continent.

With the arrival of Repsilak and his power of black magic, all goodness starts to fade from the land. Now the final object in the whole of the continent is starting to succumb to the prince's black magic: the sun, the very source of light and life itself. When the sun finally does become exhausted it will go out forever; the land will be in total darkness and Repsilak will be triumphant.

However, there is an alternative: if the elixir of light and power can be concocted then the sun will absorb the magic given off by the potion and regain its strength. Repsilak will be defeated. Can you discover the secret of the elixir? If so, then you will be able to rid the land of Repsilak and peace will return once more.

So goes the blurb with this one, and I can't really make up my mind whether it's just soft in the head or rather clever. The game itself does appear just a bit soft: two-thirds of the screen area is devoted to the title and the name of the software house is permanently displayed with a simple and very small picture over on the far right. Needless to say, none of the pictures would win any awards, though at least they're drawn quickly! The text is unrefined Spectrum lower case, while the scrolling text at the bottom moves in such a manner as to leave the end of the last location description topping the new one.

But despite the presentation, the game as an adventure plays rather well - the layout is well-balanced and easily mapped. Items are carefully scattered about, usually one to every other location or so, and after about 20 locations, associations, whether justified or not, begin to form.

The objects of the first area (bounded by a pile of rubble, a deathly door and a waterfall) include a parrot cage, a trowel, a quill, a silver stick covered in small thorns, a crucifix (doesn't every adventure have one of these?), chalk, a plant, and a water canteen. Put these last two together and you see the plant suddenly put on some growth and produce a seed. You immediately ask yourself if this could be linked to the trowel...

How you find the water canteen is a little strange - on your first visit to the sand caverns you suspect nothing but, when you pass by again, without any prompting whatsoever up comes 'You dig in the soft sand. You can also see a canteen of water.'!

The happenings at the deathly door aren't too convincing either; the parrot squawks 'Snakivor! Snakivor' only when it's too late and you've passed the snake to your death at the door: but much more curious than this is the fact that you left the parrot behind in its cage in the small cave, way back on the OTHER side of the map. Perhaps these two disparate locations somehow connect up.

Still, Dargonscrypt is not bad at all for the small sum asked. It's available from Venom, 11 Hampden Close, Bicester, Oxfordshire DX6 7UG.


DIFFICULTY: easy to get your teeth into
GRAPHICS: very small, and simple
General Rating: Good value.