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Sword of Sodan logo

Price: £24.95

I Sword of Sodan f you are sick of awesomely strong heroes being the size of a small fruit fly with rippling biceps pixel high, Sword of Sodan is going to come as a pleasant surprise. Not only does your hero, or indeed, heroine (you have a choice) standard good half screen high; they are depicted in all the detail you would normally associate with a superior arcade game like Altered Beast.

For a hack ‘em and slay ‘em adventure of this nature the graphics really are spot on. During the level in which you negotiate a graveyard full of nefarious zombies, the whole scene is picked out in silhouette by blinding flashes of lightning. A very pleasing effect indeed, a lot of attention has obviously been lavished by Discovery on getting the feel of this game exactly right – all the way down to tweeting of little birdies outside the city walls in the first scene. I shall not bore you with the scenario which is the usual for this sort of business; nail the necromancer who did over your old man, in short.

Sword of Sodan will take you through eleven different levels before you can accomplish this, each of which is utterly distinct from the next and all superbly drawn. The monsters and people you will be pitted against are all highly imaginatively worked out and you will be able to dispatch them with a variety of different moves that such an enormous player sprites allows you to make.

Sword of Sodan Occasionally, the combat has the habit of wandering off the screen altogether, leaving you to listen to the groans and screams as your hero, or heroine, engages in unseen strife with your combatant. The tendency towards splatter graphics, for example when, in a later level, a spike comes through the floor, through your hero and out of the other side, makes this not the best game for young and impressionable Norbert to play last thing before bedtime. I would not call it gratuitous, but it is a little feisty.

Sword of Sodan really comes into its own when it comes to sound. Speech at the beginning, wolves baying, the howling of the wind. Sound is very much underrated as an important consideration in games. It is more than just an atmosphere creator. Good sound is integral to all good games, except maybe text adventures. If this was not enough, Sword of Sodan also has a delightfully haunting tune playing over the end screen, sounding something like a warped copy of Clannad’s ‘Harry’s Game’.

What might put more serious game players of this is the fact that, despite the intricate combat, it is all a little bit easy. With hidden pits, descending columns, lava streams and spikes to deal with, it is not turkey shoot, but after a couple of weeks better game players might find the obstacles to their progress just a wee touch straightforward. That said, it is miles in front of some other games which have concentrated on getting graphics of a quality like this. Mercifully, the game is on three disks so you do not have to suffer an inordinate amount of disk swapping.

If you are looking for a big game, they do not come any more impressive than this. There are plenty of nice little touches and a seriously impressive sequence when you straddle your Orville-like battlebird. Filling just about the whole screen, this monstrosity has thighs like Fatima Withbread and a boat race match. If you want to buy a game which uses the abilities of an unexpanded Amiga to the full and still gives a more than reasonable playing quality, buy Sword of Sodan.
Mark Heley

CU Amiga, March 1989, p.p.52-53