T he old gods of Tessera have been deposed, and the evil Archmage has taken control, imposing his own despotic regime. The only chance Tessera has to regain a sense of calm is to revive the last remaining free god from his ice-tomb in the farthest Coratinian State. By an extraordinary chance, this fateful mission has literally fallen at your door, and so with four shuriken, a handful of pebbles and an earthenware bowl, you begin your journey of discovery.
The quest will take you through the eight kingdoms, each with various geographically distinct regions. Passage from one region to another is via doorways, sometimes open, whilst sometimes guarded or hidden. Within the regions you will encounter the Archmage’s hordes, who come in various shapes and sizes, from the average minion armed with pebbles, to two-headed wolves and rodent-man, and this is just on level one. Often these encounters will result in a head-to-head battle with the vanquished foe leaving weapons or ammunition behind, which if collected will replenish your supplies.
In addition to the obvious arcade elements, a distinct adventuring element is also evident, albeit very simple. For example, one of the exits to another region is guarded by the aforementioned rodent-man. In battle he is practically impossible to beat, but if you approach him with a chunk of mouldy cheese, he is as quiet as a church mouse. The way the game runs also does away with having to type in endless streams of instructions, and in this particular example, if you are carrying the cheese when approaching the rodent, it automatically throws it to the rodent-man, saving a whole lot of hassle hunting for the correct phrase. In this way some of the depth of an adventure is included in the game, whilst the need for endless typing is done away with. Surprisingly perhaps, it works.
The programming and presentation of the game is very slick. A first person perspective view takes up the majority of the screen, within which the scrolling is extremely smooth and fast. Exteriors are a little bland, with the horizon and the occasional tree or building providing the only relief from the bowling green terrain. The figures within the landscapes move fast, and the solid shading of the figures makes the action much more realistic and convincing. Interiors, similarly, are colourful, and the scrolling fast.
Around the main screen are various icons which indicate health, the time, magic power and other relevant information, whilst under the main area is an inventory, which changes to a dialogue box should someone you encounter want to talk to you rather than kill you. This screen layout is well thought out and effective, providing a lot of information in a very clear form.
Unfortunately, the sound is not up to the standard of the graphics, being limited to a tune at the start, and various spot noises throughout. I am sure that a little more sound, well placed and utilised, could have added tremendously to the atmosphere of the game.
On the playability front, the game does not score as highly as the presentation. Within each region, there is little to do apart from slog around bashing minions and hunting for a building or any exits to the next levels. Should you find a building, it is simply a matter of entering and picking up whatever happens to by lying around. Initially this proves a little discouraging, although as time goes on, you progress, building up weaponry and strength and solving puzzles. This begins to increase the addictiveness of the game, and eventually I found the game rather stimulating and engaging. Definitely a slow burner.
An unusual game, which does score in marrying an arcade game with an adventure with pleasant results. It is not going to appeal to every adventurer or arcadester, but I am sure that it will have its devotees, and I suspect that it will feature in Play to Win quite prominently over the next few months.
CU Amiga, September 1989, p.40
Empire, Amiga £29.95
essera is a world abandoned by its creator gods to a harsh fate; as famine and plague ravage its people the tyrannical Archmage rules with an iron first. But you are no insane hero, pitting your puny resources against his legions of henchmen, you are keeping your head down.
Then there is the knocking at the door, at first you fear the Archmage’s troops but once you open it you find a fatally wounded Kobbold – a race of creatures that used to deal with the gods. In the few minutes left of his life he whispers a few, laboured words. The Kobbolds have been trying to wake a sleeping god – N’Gnir – but their attempt to find the necessary device has left many of them dead. The Kobbold passes you this device, and intricate bracelet, and his fever. To wake a god – now that is a quest wouldn’t shirk, would you?
Tessera is divided into eight Kingdoms, each made up of up to six landscapes. As you search for the sleeper you must work out how to move between landscapes and Kingdoms – and once you move to the next Kingdom you cannot return. The Kingdoms range from the lakelands of Delanda (beware of the ferryman) to the capital city of Morav to the deserts of Sunderabad.
Your perspective of the game is first-person, allowing you to freely explore this 3-D mappable landscape. Objects are picked up by simply walking over them, enemies killed by firing objects at them (weapons include a slingshot and even lightning). You need no other actions to solve the game.
Thankfully, for such a massive game there is a good save facility, allowing you make numerous save files.
Zzap, Issue 54, October 1989, p.80