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Stephen Flint
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Kati Hamza
Chris Bourne

You were just spending a quiet evening at home when suddenly your uncle stumbled in mumbling something about the old abandoned cottage where he spent his childhood. You're inclined to dismiss his story - until you notice he has a crossbow bolt protruding from his back...

On the way back from the hospital you stop at the cottage to investigate. A little exploration proves that your uncle's ravings about a secret portal to another world were based on fact. Beyond an innocuous looking door lies an ancient land of magic and mystery encompassing mountains, forests, deserts and curiously old-fashioned towns.

The environment of this two-part adventure, particularly in the cottage itself, is carefully described. The walls of the nursery, for instance, 'are covered in faded, peeling wallpaper. Broken toys are strewn across the flower. An old yellowed poster on the wall lists the alphabet.'

The world beyond the magic portal is inhabited by a medley of helpful and hostile characters. To progress, a little social Interaction is required; a good turn usually transforms a disinterested stranger into a helpful friend. Completing a series of tasks for (among others) a surly gardener, a puzzled herbalist and an injured wizard allows you to advance further in your initially mysterious quest. The more tasks you complete the clearer the purpose of your mission becomes.

The potential for limited conversation is treated very realistically; people are much more keen to gossip about each other than to reveal facts about themselves. Once you've betrayed their trust, by attempting to attack for example, any chance of co-operation has, quite naturally, been forfeited. Occasionally people aren't sure exactly what it is that you want; ask and you might just be lucky enough to receive.

Puzzles are mostly logical although by no means always straightforward. The fact that the adventure consists of a fairly sequential series of tasks makes it easier to define immediate objectives. If you really do get stuck, typing HELP provides you with one or two clues. It's important to note that your ability to perform certain actions depends on the status of your health. Fighting and eating reduce and increase strength respectively. Typing ME or STRENGTH will inform you of your present physical state.

Enter at your own Risk was written using Gilsoft's PAW and exploits most of its excellent facilities. The parser accepts complex commands, X for EXAMINE and recognises RAMSAVE. It's occasionally fussy about the exact input to complete a particular action and on one or two occasions you find yourself fumbling desperately for the precise words. Most actions can only be phrased in one way and more often than not there's no indication of exactly how that should be. A few more clues in the object descriptions or a VOCAB command, to prevent verbal deadlock, would have been helpful.

Despite these relatively minor, but occasionally very annoying hitches, Enter At Your Own Risk is a competently presented and, on the whole, enjoyable adventure with one or two strikingly innovative features. It doesn't exploit the potential of the PAW to its full but, as long as you're prepared to put up with a slightly pedantic parser, £2.95 is a small price to pay for a few hours of entertainment. Enter At Your Own Risk is available from Stephen Flint, 5 Harrison Road, Stapleford, Nottingham, NG9 8GP. The disk version, which has no extra features, costs £5.95.


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