Is this Dungeon Master too?

Bloodwych logo

ALL the best fantasy games have plots written by failed novelists. Bloodwych is no exception. This is a story of the Lord of Entropy, Zendick, and his quest to make life miserable for everyone except his friends. It is sort of forerunner to the Tory Party, with you playing the equyivalent of Neil Kinnock, the brave but witless adventurer out to stop the land from being subjugated for all eternity, including the weekends.

The objective is to storm the towers of Bloodwych and capture crystals from four of them before trecking on to the fifth for a final encounter with Zendick. Easy enough for experienced dungeon masters because, let us face it, Bloodwych is heavily derivative of the FTL game.

You start off by selecting one character from a selection of mugshots, if you go for the full game. There is the option to start off with four pre-selected heroes, but you will probably want to pick your own.

Supposing that you only have the one, you will need to recruit the other characters, but unlike Dungeon Master this is not quite straightforward - people can be dumped from your party and others hired at any stage.

Recruiting someone demonstrates the communications side of the game. Down the left side of the screen, under the pictures of the characters, are various menus. To recruit potential allies, you will need to praise them, to assure them of their worth, and then boast a little, because they are not likely to join someone who does not think very much of themselves. You can also insult people, should the fancy take you.

On top of these options for interacting with other characters you can ask their name, reveal yours, and inquire about artefacts, legends and rumours. You will need to, so do not go chopping everything that you encounter - the kiss-my-axe style of play is going to leave you floundering eventually.

The last of the communications options lets you praise and admonish members of your own party and shout to attract attention.

Operating a party in Bloodwych is complicated, which is one reason why, when it comes to combat, everyone is fairly autonomous. If you praise a character of yours too heavily, he or she will act more and more independently. This could mean that as you approach a shopkeeper to buy something, Butch the Barbarian will suddenly leap forward and chop him to bits. The counterpoint to this is that if you henpeck them too much they will never do anything independently that is useful.

Each character has ratings for strength, intelligence, charisma and agility, and belongs to a character class - fighter, mage, assassin, adventurer - and a magic class, which are based on suits of cards, each representing a different aspect of magic.

You get magic points according to your character class which increase on gaining a new level. Learning spells from a different branch is hardest for a warrior and easiest for a mage.

The magic system is interesting and totally unlike Dungeon Master's in that all the spells are contained in a big spell book, the pages of which flop over quite nicely. There is room in each party member's backpack for items such as keys, gold, food, and waterskins because, just like in Dungeon Master, you need to unlock doors, eat and drink.

Unlike DM, the gold can be used for buying weapons and information at the various shops and for bribing travellers you may meet in the towers. This all adds up to the enjoyment, and makes up for the small graphics.

Sound is pretty much a forgotten quantity, giving an almost library feel to the game. I keep expecting the monsters to say Hush everytime I scream Banzaii and attack them.

Bloodwych is obviously inspired by Dungeon Master, but it fails to emulate the 3D interaction and falls short of the standard of graphics and sound expected on the Amiga.

What really makes it is the two player simultaneously option. This lets you both have a party of four, who can help or hinder each other party turn and advance down a corridor. Best of all you can trade items, so if you both go off exploring in different directions, you can rendezvous later and swap goodies.

Bloodwych logo

Mirrorsoft £24.99 * Mouse, Joystick or Keyboard

The land of Trazere has all but been destroyed by an ancient evil in times long past. The Bloodwych, a council of powerful mages, was betrayed by the sorcerer Zendyck. The Bloodwych stood for all that was good and decent in the world and were fair and just rulers. Now Zendyck rules unopposed, and Trazere's suffering an age of darkness.

To Zendyck, like all other successful villains, ruling the world's simply not enough. He seeks to reduce Trazere to original matter and then to remake it in his own mage. To help him he's summoned a Lord of Chaos, the only being that can do the job. Lords of Chaos are renowned for untrustworthy, and this one's probably going to do a runner price it has its tentacles round the goodies of the original matter.

But the Bloodwych are tougher than Zendyck thinks. Being reduced to individual atoms only slows them down. Using arcane magic they have gathered the last sixteen champions in the land and have transported them into the castle of Trendawyl which is where you come in.

Bloodwych is a fantasy adventure based on a role-playing system. At the heart of this system are highly detailed characters which the players control. The character's statistics, hit points, magic and possessions are laid out on the left of the screen, while the picture of the character and his buddies are on the right. The system is easy to use and is also nice and clear.

The game is similar to Dungeon Master or Bard's Tale. You explore a large complex, bumping off the bad guys while attempting to complete the quest. In this one you have to find the four magical crystals and finally destroy Zendyck. The castle is large and contains all sorts of nasties. It is important to know where you are so it would be a good idea to draw a map as you explore.

Being in communication is important. You can talk to strangers as well as some of the enemies. You refer to the communications menu and select what you are trying to say. For instance, if you are attempting to recruit someone, you might introduce yourself, ask what the other guy's name and profession is, and then try to get round him by making smalltalk. Talking can be important: some enemies do have useful info.

Remember to commend other members of the party occasionally to keep their spirits up, or they might just take it into their heads to wander off. Don't forget to keep characters fed and watered, or they start taking damage. Eat when you need to, not when you've got food. It is sometimes better to keep a few characters well fed than the while lot half fed. Sleep accelerates the rate of which characters heal, and also characters only gain experience and magic while they are sleeping. Being by a bed and sleeping is better than sleeping in a corridor.

I have no idea how much experience you need in order to advance your characters a level. During my many games I once managed to get a fighter to second level, but the whole party was greased by a giant crab just as I was about to save the game.


What I saw of the scenery was nice (and as I never got to the lower levels I can't offer an opinion on them). The monsters and characters were nicely drawn, but the way they moved was wooden. Combat involved the bad guys moving their arms up and down with little messages telling you the damage inflicted or received. Overall the artwork was nice, but it didn't test the Amiga's abilities.

The sound was limited to the occasional 'Oooh' and 'Aaargh' during combat, but not much else. There wasn't even any background music.


If there's one problem with he game, it's that you can develop a perfect plan. I enjoyed Bloodwych immensely, but then I'm into this sort of thing anyway. It is definitely not a beat 'em-up, as that guarantees a deceased party and oblivion for Tranzere. Another thing: I ended up hauling round my dead buddies because I couldn't work out how to drop them after they had been killed. Still, great fun for all you role-playing freaks out there, and one that may eventually become a classic.

Bloodwych logo

Wenn man dem stets lauten Bum-Bum der Werbetrommeln vorbehaltlos glauben könnte, hätten Rollenspiel-Freaks allen Grund zum Jubel: Mit markigen Sprüchen signalisiert Mirrorsoft, daß ihr neuestes Game selbst hochkrätige Klassiker wie "Bard's Tale" oder "Dungeon Master" in den Schatten stellt. Wir blieben skeptisch und haben "Bloodwych" auf den Zahn gefühlt.

Die Story strotzt nicht unbedingt vor Einfallsreichtum - es gilt, vier Kristalle zu finden, deren vereinte Kräfte den "Herrn des Chaos"(ein wüster Dämon, der Land und Leute in Dunkelheit und Leid gestürzt hat) vernichten können. Und du bist einmal mehr der einzig greifbare Retter...

Es stehen 16 Charaktere zur Auswahl; vom Krieger bis zum Zauberer ist alles vertreten. Hier stechen zwei Besonderheiten ins Auge: Zum einen wird die Magie in vier Elementarbereiche unterteilt, wobei jeder Charakter sich auf eines dieser Gebiete spezialisiert hat und somit in seiner Domäne deutliche Vorteile bietet. Zum anderen - und das ist, ganz im Gegensatz zur biederen Vorgeschichte, wirklich neu - können zwi Spieler gleichzeitig in die Dungeons klettern. Dazu ist der Bildschirm in zwei gleiche Teile unterteilt; jeder Spieler sieht seinen Sichtbereich auf einem eigenen Screen.

So interessant das im ersten Augenblick klingen mag, in der Praxis weist das Split-Screen-Verfahren deutliche Schwächen auf. Denn mal ehrlich: Wer hat schon einen Dauerpartner parat, der Zeit und Lust hat, einen Wochenlang durch die komplexe Welt eines Rollenspiels zu begleiten - vor allem immer dann, wenn man selbst gerade spielen möchte? Solospieler müssen jedoch mit dem halben Bildschirm vorlieb nehmen, der Rest bleibt rabensch wartz.

Notgedrungen sind daher leider auch die Grafiken entsprechend klein, die Sprites sind überzeichnet und ruckeln im Bewegungsablauf. Sound ist absolute Mangelware, höchstens ein mageres "Aaah" und "Oooh" lässt gelegentlich die Lautsprechermembran erzittern.

Ansonsten wird der erwartungsvolle Abenteurer mit solider Durchschnittkost abgespeist. Die von den Werbetextern hoch gelobten Verständigungsmöglichkeiten mit dem Programm ("...bietet dem Spieler in nicht gekanntes Ausmaß an Interaktion mit der Umgebung.") sind zwar recht ordentlich, aber häufig eintönige Antworten der Befragten (dazu noch in Englisch) trüben das Vergnügen.

Schön hingegen: das Erlernen neuer Zaubersprüche; gegen bare Münze kann sogar die Magie höherer Level erkauft werden! Stammt ein Spruch nicht aus deinem Spezialgebiet, so ist die Wirkung allerdings schwächer und kostet mehr Magical Points.

Das Spiel wird komplett über Icons gesteuert, die mit dem Joystick angewählt werden. Wer dennoch technische probleme hat, schlägt in der viersprachigen Anleitung nach, deren Deutsch trotz etlicher Logik- und Grammatikfehler noch hinreichend verständlich ist. Und sonst? Nun, Bloodwych fehlt es weniger an Umfang und Komplexität (beides reichlich vorhanden!), denn ansprechender Aufmachung mit gelungenen Monstern und atmosphärischem Grusel-sound. Was bleibt, ist ein solides Rollenspiel, bei dem sich die Programmierer etwas zu sehr auf den zweifelhaften Gag mit dem Split-Screen verlassen haben.

Bloodwych logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Image Works
Price: £19.95

This is exactly what the games world has been crying out for, and is what A500 owners have been desperate to get their hands on for a long time. In short, a glimpse at the screen shots will tell you this, Bloodwych is a one or SIMULTANEOUS two player Amiga version of Dungeon Master.

The Bloodwych are - or were - some of the most powerful beings in the universe. A group of immortal mages, they were all powerful guardians until the world was taken over by a twisted entity called Zendick, who didn't hold with the Bloodwych's philanthropy. After spending many years studying the dark arts, he turned upon the Bloodwych and destroyed them. Using magical crystals, he summonsed the Lord of Chaos, whom he foolishly believed would allow him to recreate the world in the way he wanted.

Many years of great mourning have passed. Zendick has been in power for far too long. The immortal Bloodwych decides that the time has come to call Zendick to task. You, a Bloodwych, and three recruits, must travel through the concrete mazes of McGrane, battle the bad guys, solve all the puzzles and steal the crystals from Zendick.

The game looks like DM and plays like it, too. Controls consist of a pointer and lots of little icons. At the right hand side of the screen are all the controls for casting spells, opening doors and manipulating inventories. On the left hand side are pictorial representations of your party, plus a record of any battle damage that may have been incurred.

Bloodwych seems to be far more varied than DM ever was. The further you get into the game, the more depth you realise it has. One thing that has been salvaged from DM is its logical element. Every puzzle can be solved if thought out logically, which makes it much more fun than a trial and errory jobby.

A deep and involving one player game. A deep, involving and highly competitive two-player game. A thumbs up deserved if ever there was.

Bloodwych logo

Masters David McCandless and Jonathan Davies our knights of old battle with The Bloodwych, Mirrorsoft's latest adventure game...

Atari ST review

Jonathan: I usually dread having to tackle this breed of game as it tends to involve staying up until the wee small hours with a manual in one hand and a mug of re-caffeinated coffee in the other... And that is just to load it! Actually, playing them is too mentally devastating to contemplate. But this time was different. In fact I was so surprised to find myself enjoying Bloodwych that I decided to abandon my attempt on the world record for filling in an Etch-A-Sketch completely black (29 hours 46 mins 16 secs - P, O'Flannigan, USA) and instead attempted to thwart Zendick and the Lord of Entropy.

The first plus point worthy of attention is that in spite of the massive complexity of the game and the apparent enormity of the manual, Bloodwych is not really that difficult to get into. Most of the manual is in Spanish anyway, and what does need to be absorbed is concisely written and free of all this 'Vestry!' and 'Treihwdwy!' rubbish. That stuff is all confined to a section at the beginning, and can be torn out and discarded. Actually I decided to try it without the manual altogether to start with, and was surprised to find I only needed to refer to it a couple of times. This could be put down to my intuitive genius, but I think the game's sensible layout is a more likely explanation.

I was intrigued to find that some attempt has been made to give personalities to the characters, apart from the usual strength, intelligence etc. I accidentally disturbed one chap who had obviously just got out of bed and met with a hail of abuse. Naturally he refused to join my posse.

Map-making is essential, as the dungeon (or whatever it is meant to be) is an architectural disaster. Your sense of direction is not aided by the scenery, which is a uniform shade of grey, broken only by the occasional tapestry or door. The graphics as a whole would best be described as minimalist, which is excusable as two players need to be squeezed in somehow, and animation only exists in the sense there is some.

In enjoyed Bloodwych enormously. It really is an, erm, 'world inside your computer' (cough), and anyone looking for a few weeks of solid entertainment for the least possible financial outlay should grab a friend of similar inclinations and step this way.

Amiga review

David: Bloodwych is unashamedly Dungeon Master cut down and squeezed into a two-player game - and there are no pretensions to that fact. Bloodwych has the same 3D first person view, the same looking catacombs and caverns, similar puzzle mechanisms (writing on walls, buttons, locked doors etc.) and the same control system.

But Bloodwych improves on Dungeon Master in some respects. In the original, when you encountered another creature it was just a case of slamming your sword down its gullets first - no questions asked! In this two-player variant, you can actually communicate with adversaries. You can flatter them ("Thy sexual prowess is reknown in these parts"), you can insult them ("Thy codpiece exudes the odour of pig swill"), you can ask them to do suspect things ("Please reveal thyself"... Cripes!), and you can generally banter with them. You can even recruit them to your 'merry' band, and engage your charisma to win them over if they are a little reluctant.

You move around the dungeon, using the joystick or mouse to click on a directions pointer. Doors are opened and objects picked up simply by clicking on them. Objects like keys and money are used by placing the relevant object in the 'use' box and clicking on it. The same applies for spells. Everything is straight forward and icon-driven.

In the dual player game, each player starts in a different part of the dungeon with the chance of a 'rendez-vous' likely only by accident. Nevertheless, it is fun to watch your pal struggle against several trolls or get stepped on by some renegade wizard.

In adapting a game like Dungeon Master to two players you are bound to lose something. In this case it is sound and animation. The eye-watering thuds and groans of battle are gone, as are the clicks of opening portcullises and the blood-curdling screams of mutant mushrooms. Animation has been stripped to a minimum, with characters restricted to two frames, and a bare jerking limp when they move.

I can foresee Dungeon Master purists turning their 'oh-so-disdainful' noses up at this apparently inferior attempt. But it is not. The interaction element and two-player option add something new to what could become a stale genre. If you can forgive jerky graphics, fairly poor animation, and slightly unwieldy controls, then Bloodwych will put a big grin on your face and a big dent in your social life.

Bloodwych... ...Data Disks Volume 1: The Extended Levels logo

Kaum hast du dich deiner Truppe (und unseren Karten?) durch die zahlreichen Türme des komplexen Duo-Rollenspiels gekämpft, da wartet schon die nächste Herausforderung!

Ätsch, reingefallen: Trotz gewonner Finalschlacht, hast du im Original den üblen "Lord of Entropy" nicht wirklich einen Kopf kürzer gemacht, sondern bestenfalls mit einem Fußtritt in seine eigene Welt zurückbefördert.

Dort hockt er nun und hat auch schon die nächste Gemeinheit ausgebrütet - ein riesiges Verlies mit noch mehr Fallen und noch garstigeren Monstern! In Sachen Spielablauf und Präsentation ist alles beim alten geblieben (Split-Screen etc.), dafür gibt's jetzt eine neue Magier-Klasse, rekrutierbare Monsters (als Kanonenfutter), sowie 25 brandneue Level.

Da man es hier natürlich mit weit grimmigeren Gegnern zu tun bekommt, geht's erst mit Charakteren der Stufe 14 los - die altgedienten Haudenen des ersten Teils können übernommen werden. Sollten die Recken noch etwas zu schwarch auf der Brust sein, genügt ein Nickerchen; sie werden dann sozusagen im Schlaf befördert.

Bei der Transaktion gehen zwar sämtliche Ausrüstungsgegenstände verloren, zum Trost verdoppeln sich aber die Trefferpunkte, was ja auch nicht zu verachten ist.

Zusammenfassend läßt sich die Sache auf einen kurzen Nenner bringen: Bloodwych-Fans werden ihre helle Freude mit den vielen neuen Aufgaben haben, und für alle anderen war's sowieso nicht gedacht... (wh)

Bloodwych... ...Data Disks Volume 1: The Extended Levels logo

Mirrorsoft/Imageworks, Amiga £14.99 (Original Bloodwych required!)

Whenever there's a demon lying dormant somewhere, waiting for the right moment to pounce on an unsuspecting world and have his wicked way with it, who gets lumbered with the job of stopping him? Yeah, you! And after all the heartache, blood, sweat and tears spilled doing just that for the good people of Trazere, what do you get for your efforts? The princess's hand (urch), riches beyond belief, a kingdom of your own? No way! You get another chance to risk your life fighting the foe you thought vanquished... life's like that.

Zendick, the Lord of Entrophy, is alive and living in his own dimension. There he's constructed a dungeon so full of foul creatures, evil traps and mindnumbing puzzles that around every corner you expect to find Michael Barrymore asking, 'what is a spot not?'

From the safety of his domain, Zendick summons you to his dungeon to prove your worth solve the mazes and defeat the Crystal Guardians. Should you be successful he vows to nevermore trouble the Land of Trazere (smacks of porkies to me); fail and Zendick will feast on your soul before destroying your world.

To play the data disk you need to have a saved game handy from the original program. Ideally a saved game with characters who've achieved Level Fourteen. However, should your party not be of the required standard you can still enter the fray and your level will increase at an accelerated rate until it reaches the magic Fourteen.

All control features of the original Bloodwych have been retained - two-player option, spell casting, combat, icon-based control system, 3-D views and character interaction - together with the introduction of eight new spells, recruitable monsters, enhanced graphics/ sounds and 25 tough levels to explore. Also (thoughtfully) included, a very useful hint book for the original game.

Basically, the Volume 1 data disk is very similar to the original Bloodwych but with enhancements, providing more of the same thrills, spills and adventure... but better.