ADVENTURES are changing. Once there were only txt games, anything graphic was all in the mind. Then we had what we glibly called graphic adventures, similar types of games but with some pretty crude pictures that, if anything, destroyed the pictures your mind built up from the text.
With the coming of the Amiga, these graphics took a healthy step forward. Some can actually improve our mental simulations of places far away in space and time. Mouse control is a logical roll forward. Apart from suiting us lazy types, it is an excellent way to keep a good flow of play, especially in role playing adventures. In the jargon Dungeon Master is a "third generation".
A new adventure in this category is Galdregons Domain from Pandora Software - good graphics, a smooth mouse and icon command structure, and a role playing game that will tax those little grey cells.
Had Galdregons Domain appeared before Dungeon Master, it would have received better reviews. Dungeon Master has slick graphics with animation and you are prompted to tackle it in a very definite, systematic order. Galdregon is free ranging, has no animation, and although to win through you must solve some sections in a strict order, there are few hints as to that order.
You play the part of a barbarian, a northlander skilled in the use of arms. Seeking fame and fortune you visit the city of Secnar. There you are enlisted by its king in the fight against the evil priests of School.
The priests have resurrected the long dead wizard Azazael, who intends to seek vengeance on all mankind. His aim is to find the five lost power gems of Zator and use them to control and enslave all who stand against him.
YOUR quest is to find the gems and return with them to the king. The location of only one gem is known - it is in the hands of an evil Lich, an undead wizard, who rules the catacombs under the city. You stand no chance at all against the Lich and his minions unless you can retrieve the other gems, gaining experience, weapons and armour in the process.
Leaving the castle you will meet many creatures, not all evil. Question them. Some will provide useful clues, some will merely pass the time of day.
There are mysterious cottages, inns, forests and towers to visit. Rangers, elves, gnomes and hobglobins wander the countryside. You must be careful not to enter into battle too readily. Kill the wrong opponent and you could bring down the righteous wrath of his companions.
Leaving the castle you have only food, a lantern, a dagger and a healing potion. A visit to nearby cottages will provide you with a magic sword and a few magical scrolls. You are now equipped for the first stage.
Any weapon you find will sooner or later break in the heat of battle, so make certain you have a back-up weapon ready. Once you have overcome enemies you can take whatever they were carrying. Various small flask will contain potions. Watch out for poison.
Scrolls are once-only magic spells written on human skin. They range from a simple spell to give light to useful offensive ones wo summon up fireballs or poison clouds.
Half of the screen shows your view beneath which is a line of sideways scrolling text. The lower part of the screen is the command area accessed with the mouse, icons and menus.
Food and drink affect stamina, healing potions or clerical cures. Strength can be won with potions or spells, and also appears to increase as you progress though the game and acquire better armour.
Click on the right mouse button and the display changes to the inventory screen, a picture of you on the left, and two pull-
Clicking on a dead body shows what the creature was carrying: click on a chest or bag to see what is inside. Items may be dragged from one menu to the other, although there is a weight limit to what you can carry around with you. Armour you want to wear should be dragged directly on your body.
When out in the open, clicking twice on the right button displays a map of the countryside with a cross showing your location. It shows all except one of the major places of interest, although you may not realise their importance just from the map.
Movement controls seem slightly strange. If you see a door in a building, but not exactly in the centre of the screen, you must go past the building and then turn towards it before you can enter.
Cottages are simple one-
Forests, the Caves of Doom, the Temple of Set, the Labyrinth and the Castle all have a number of locations and must be mapped very carefully. Note that walls, whether made of trees or brick, may not have any thickness, so watch what you draw on squared paper.
When you are in forests or underground caves there is an indication of when a path leads off to the left or right. In other locations what appears to be a continuous wall to one side may contain a doorway which is not visible unless you look directly at the wall.
Before you start make sure you have several formatted disks ready to save your game position. It is very easy to die in Galdregon's Domain - most of the special locations have hordes of unpleasant creatures just itching to spill your blood.
It is easy to buy ale to increase your stamina, or a cure to improve your health. Unfortunately it is not as easy to find the money with which to pay for them.
Scrolls and potions have to be used to the best effect for the supply isn't inexhaustible.
My review copy seemed to have a few bugs scattered the lower half of the screen with coloured pixels, a situation that grew worse as I progressed. Still, Galdregon's Domain is a welcome addition for the role playing gamer. Let's hope there are some more like this in the pipeline.