Deja Vu 1 logo

64/128 Price: £14.95/disk
Amiga Price: £29.95

Deja vu is a most unusual adventure, driven almost exclusively by joystick. Nevertheless, it is a text adventure, not an arcade adventure! Let me explain.

The screen consists of three main windows. The graphics window shows a pictorial representation of the current location. A window below it conveys the text narrative, plus any messages in response to commands like EXAMINE. The inventory window, to the right, is used to deposit objects shown in the graphics window that have been TAKEn. Above these windows is a collection of verb boxes, and below the inventory window is an exits window.

Control is effected through an arrow which can be moved and superimposed over any part of the screen, by means of the joystick. Amiga users will be familiar with this GEM-type system, but it is likely that C64 owners will not. Once the arrow is positioned, the fire button is used to issue that command. For example, to take an object that is displayed in the picture, the arrow is placed over it, and the button held down. The joystick is then moved to 'drag' the object into the inventory window, and releasing the fire button 'drops' the object into the inventory. No words are used at all.

To issue a 'real' command, a verb from one of the verb boxes is pointed to with the arrow, and the fire button clicked. It is then linked with an object to the main picture, or perhaps, the inventory. So to unlock a door, OPERATE is selected as the verb, then KEY in the inventory is clicked-on, followed by the door to be unlocked in the picture.

There are OPEN windows too. If you OPEN the coat, a little coat window springs up over part of the picture, showing the contents of its pockets. If there are too many objects to display, the scroll boxes can be used to scroll down through the contents. Taking this one stage further, you may decide to open a wallet found in the coat, and so you will now have two 'open' windows at the same time.

The plot is that of a mystery thriller. Finding yourself in the toilet cubicle of Joe's Bar after closing time, you have suffered a total loss of memory. Locked doors prevent you from escaping, and soon you stumble upon a corpse in an upstairs office. His face is vaguely familiar, but you cannot quite place him. Are you being framed for the murder - or did you actually commit it? You do no know, and you cannot remember.

Playing an adventure sitting back with joystick in hand makes a welcome change from a lot of keyboard bashing. However, whilst there are simply no difficulties in finding the words you need, the vocabulary, limited to eight verbs, inevitably leads to a find/examine/do series of problems, rather than those of a more subtle and varied type.

I played the C64 version, and one or two quirks in the way it operated caused a little frustration. The arrow moves smoothly across the screen, but its speed varies depending upon where it is. It is therefore difficult to exercise a fine control, and placing the arrow accurately in a small area takes some doing. Double clicking on exits usually takes you through them without having to resort to the GO icon, but often I found I had to give the button two or three more clicks to get myself moving.

The high Graphics rating reflects the cleverly laid out screen and system of controls and boxes, rather than staggeringly artistic pictures. The Playability rating takes account of the lack of fine control over the arrow. These ratings, and comments on the operation of the game, refer to the C64 version. Play should be significantly superior on the Amiga version.

For something different, Deja vu is worth trying, and in any event, makes a worthwhile adventure.