Pegasus Software
1989
Adventure: Text
£3.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
None

27
Phil King
Chris Bourne

For those of you who think that a hermit is a gangly green frog in love with Miss Piggy, you're obviously very stupid! A hermit is actually someone who decides to live in solitude. And his abode is thus not a Muppet Theatre but something called a hermitage.

In this homegrown, PA Wed adventure, you are a monk named Ambrose, living in the Dark Ages. He's been putting his feet up in the local monastery for the last twenty years or so. A cushy life you might think, but just recently - and rather belatedly - the Archbishop has decided he should actually do some work. A pilgrimage has been suggested, and not to some dead glam place like Rome or Lourdes. Instead, Ambrose is to toddle up to the local mountains and murder this old hermit. Not very Christian you might think, but in fact during the Dark Ages the Church was really into that sort of thing, what with burning people at the stake, boiling them in oil and drowning old women in rivers, it was virtually the peak of religious activity in Europe. And a sad consequence of all this was that the dead peoples' property had no-one to look after it, forcing the Church to take it over…

According to the Archbishop, the hermit must be killed because he's an incarnation of our old friend Beelzebub. In all probability he probably just holds a few wild parties now and again, to break the tedium. But still, Ambrose is far from keen on this pilgrimage idea. Anyway, he sets off with no possessions and apparently wearing nothing - obviously a bad habit to get into (groan - Ed). This is where the game begins and it's a good idea to swiftly return to the monastry for some objects to help you on your quest. Unfortunately, during your brief absence the monastry has been ransacked and the Archbishop killed. Even more spine-chilling, all the dead bodies have been drained of blood.

After gathering a few things it's out of there as fast as possible, even if the only road takes you toward the mountains. First stop is a strange village where the villagers are tying young women to hat stacks and setting them alight, while copulation is going on in the street !rot another Acid House party scandal!). Being a saintly soul, or even if the reverse, it's a good idea to save a young woman if you want to progress in the game.

Once you've escaped from the village you soon come across a small hut which deserves investigation. Inside is another beautiful lady, sprawled across the bed and obviously in need of spiritual guidance from you. Furthermore, she wants you to kiss her (this Ambrose chappie must be the monasterial equivalent of Richard Gere), but unfortunately she has a fetish for draining the blood from her lovers!

Clearly The Hermitage's authors have set out to shock and, although there's no bad language present, this is what they achieve. The shock value derives mainly from the adventure setting, however, there's only a few outrageous scenes, none of which could provide much competition for a typical Hammer horror film on TV. And just like those feeble horror movies the plot in this adventure is weak, consisting of a hotchpotch of unconnected places and ideas which don't gel together. Deprived of any kind of effective mystical atmosphere the 'shocking' scenes are simply amusing.

On the technical side the game is much better with useful VOCAB and RooM commands. The +3 version features some excellent, and completely innocuous colour pictures, loaded in when they're needed. +3 owners also get a free, humorous adventure, Teacher Trouble.

Hopefully these technical talents will be put to use in a better adventure next time as The Hermitage wastes them. 'Shock ' scenes cannot compensate for a feeble plot, and with only a few problems needing to be solved to complete it this is a disappointment.

The Hermitage is available direct from Pegasus Developments (cheques payable to Tom Collins) at 760 Tyburn Rd, Erdington, BIRMINGHAM B24 9NX.

CRITICISM

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