T he latest in the Mindscape’s Amigaventures, follows on from the excellent Déjà Vu and the pretty good Uninvited. In Shadowgate you find yourself taking on the role of the final generation of the ‘Line of Kings’, and your quest is to find and dispose of the Warlock Lord who, surprise, surprise, is the cunningly evil villain in this game.
For anyone who has ever played Déjà Vu or Uninvited, the way of playing this game will immediately feel familiar. Those people more used to blasting things with the mouse, and playing adventures with the keyboard will, however, find the user-interface (that is the way you control your characters actions to you and me) both novel and perfectly suited to the Amiga.
On screen at any one time there are six windows, each one giving you information vital to your quest. At the top left corner of your screen is the graphics window, showing your surroundings. As well as that there is a text window for written description of locations, an inventory window to show what you are carrying, and an exits window to show any non-visible ways of getting out.
To take any actions in the game there is a menu system which allows you to choose one of eight suitable actions to take. They are, in no particular order: Examine, Open, Close, Speak, Operate, Go, Hit and Consume.
The first thing you see when playing Shadowgate is a front door with a skull above it. It leads to a hall with two doors, both of which are firmly locked. As you wait in the hall, the torch you are carrying goes out and you are, to put it in plain English, buggered. To get past this, you must tell the computer to attempt to move the skull. This is done as follows: click the mouse on operate, then on the window called ‘thyself’ and then on the skull. That will then reveal what you need to get past the first problem. In essence what you are doing is telling the computer you want to move the skull.
As with its predecessors, Déjà Vu or Uninvited, Shadowgate was originally programmed for the Macintosh, but Mindscape have perfected porting it to the Amiga, and the changes it has made to the graphics and in particular sound, mean the game does begin to use the Amiga’s facilities.
Each room you enter has a different picture, ranging from basic dungeons to raging demons (the latter being accompanied by an impressive scream). Colour is used well, although the pictures are not really as carefully drawn as they were on the Macintosh version of the game I saw earlier.
What Shadowgate does have that Déjà Vu did not is animation and extensive use of sampled sound. The animation is fairly limited at the beginning of the game, to rats scuttling across the floor and eyes glinting at you menacingly, but later on it becomes a little more widespread.
The sound effects are surprisingly good. Screams, hysterical laughs, and creaking doors are just three of the multitude of impressive and atmospheric sounds that add a great deal to the game.
Overall Shadowgate is a pretty good game. To quote the advertisement currently running in the American press it is “a new way to give thrill-seekers the willies” (oo-er sounds a bit rude!), and although I could not agree with that, it did provide a few hours of harmless fun. Unfortunately, retailing as it does at £29.99 you have to either be very rich or very dedicated to buy it.
Ian J. Frogsac
CU Amiga, February 1988, p.p.72-73