Brave bandits

Sleeping Gods Lie logo

EMPIRE has changed reality. The world has become cubic, kobolds are good guys, it isn't really that far to the chemists and God isn't dead, merely having forty winks.

Unfortunately, during his omnipotence's slumber a wicked arch-mage has taken over the world and several others besides. Now he has prevented the Sleeper from ever waking up.

You don't know what you are going to do but you must stop him, otherwise... Well, it'd be terrible, wouldn't it. He might privatise water. He might introduce Poll Tax. Yes, you must stop him at all costs. That only leave you with one problem. How?

Fortunately at that moment some half-dead kobolds appear at your door, just back from a similar expedition. Before they die they give you a device which will aid you in your quest.
Now it's up to you to brave the bandit-ridden roads, the freezing hills and snow demons, the trained archers in the capital, the denizens of the dwarven tunnels, the airborne attack of seagulls, the fiery fury of dragons and the terrible mind-pummeling wrath of (gasp!) the giant mice. Privatisation is beginning to sound better all the time.

The game, like some starborn software offspring between Dungeon Master and Mercenary, gives you the three-dimensional character's eye view of the terrain and relies solely on the joystick or mouse for all operations.

Unlike most of this genre, there is no fiddling about with icons, and no text entry. If you come across a location with the correct objects in your possession the game assumes you know what you are doing and completes the actions for you.
This is a great bonus since not only can you sometimes get things right by mistake, and you are saved all that tiresome fiddling about typing and clicking and clicking and typing, typing to find the right combination of actions or phrases to bring out the desired result.

Of course this might not appeal to the purists, but if you're after mono text-only sagas, why didn't you stick with your ZX80?

Weapons. There are lots of these. You start off lobbing small stones and pebbles at people end up blasting them with lightning bolts. Ammo is usually collected from baddies you blow up on the way. Yes I did say blow up. Yes, with pebbles. No, I don't know why, but it's fun. Listen to me, here you are prancing round a cubic planet - it's no good going on at me about realism.

Whenever you meet someone they're almost sure to be a bad guy, unless they look exceptionally old and feeble or exceptionally cute and helpless. Anyone else, waste 'em.

The joystick, or mouse if you prefer, controls a crosshair in the viewing screen. Targeting with the cursor and pressing the button will fire the current weapon. When you pick up a weapon, if it is more powerful than the one you are using it will replace the current one.
The weapons' ranges vary considerably. With a simple sling you may be able to detect a baddie's halitosis, but with a longbow you can probably dispatch them to that Rubick's Cube in the sky before they've even noticed you're in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately some of the larger weapons can take an age to load, so you may have to resort to hurling shuriken at an irate dragon or lead shot at a master magician. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

It is vital to save the game every time you achieve something or pick up something new. The program has a very good load/save screen and it is possible to store upwards of about 20 positions on the data disc supplied - the disc that the program runs from - a definite one- up on those adventures that have you swapping discs continually.

The graphics are fairly good, and reasonably fast considering some are quite complicated. The people and creatures you meet are well drawn, although their movements can be jerky, which is very annoying when you are trying to ambush someone and he mysteriously transports right past.
The explosions are good and are accompanied by agonising screams. The fact that they seem to be emitted by throttled pigs is neither here nor there.

The puzzles are quite difficult to solve, but to be honest they often solve themselves. You will be aimlessly wandering around some barren plain when you trip over a molehill and discover some magic boots. Serendipity isn't in it.
This also means you have to investigate every molehill, every rock and every dragon dropping in every kingdom. Some things are not very important and only help to keep you alive (not important?) but others are vital to your quest. There is no way of going back when you suddenly discover on the last level that you are missing a magic toothpick.

There are some good underground sequences and a tastefully decorated castle, both wisely placed to break the monotony of all those wide open spaces.
It is a good idea to get inside before nightfall unless you've been eating lots of carrots because the sky gets dark. As a matter of fact, it all gets dark, including the bad guys. Doesn't stop them from attacking you though.

Sleeping Gods Lie may lack some of the strategic though of the more conventional adventures, but it has a certain playability that prevents boredom and frustration setting in.
Although much of the game involves endless traipsing over the countryside, there is still something compelling about it which makes it all seem worthwhile, an elusive quality which can turn an otherwise mediocre offering into something unusual which deserves a look.