Cadaver logo

Publisher: Imageworks Price: £24.99

Does the thought of wandering alone through a deep, dark, dungeon fill you with the urge to wet your armour and shout for your mum? You're not alone! Fortunately, the good old Bitmap Brothers have come up with the wimp's alternative: Cadaver.
Yes, I know it is a silly title, and no it isn't some form of rhyming slang. It is however, an excellent graphic adventure. Produced in the - now familiar - 3D isometric format (in the style of Treasure Trap) and for those people with very long memories, the Ultimate series on something called a Spectrum.
Fortunately we've come a long way since the days when everything was in one colour and the sound was enough to make you turn the game off. Cadaver is a fine example of the state of the art.
It's based upon the continuing adventures of Karadoc. Fancy calling a kid that. Some people, honestly!

Anyway, your mission and indeed his, is to explore Castle Wulf, dealing the objects, monsters and people you meet on your travels, as well as the numerous puzzles which need to be solved before you encounter the final task, namely, killing the evil necromancer Dianos. Familiar scenario for adventure freaks?

What Cadaver lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in real quality. The action takes place in the 3D dungeons, rooms and passages of Castle Wulf and Karadoc is moved around this little world with a joystick (as indeed are all his functions).
If you want to pick up an object, move Karadoc next to the required item. This activates a number of icon options relevant to that particular object, you can then pick it up, use it, drink it, examine it and so on, depending on the icons activated.

Certain icons however, cannot be picked up and may only be pushed, dragged or used in the room in which they were found. There are a large number of icons which become available depending upon the item being used and the situation Karadoc is presently involved in. This can make interaction with both characters and objects quite complex and also makes for some interesting puzzles.

Many items can be found on your travels and these fall into four broad categories, the first being food and drink.
Food is usually found in chests and drink usually in barrels, but be careful, always examine what's in the barrel before you guzzle it down.
The second category is best described as a collection of utilities, items which are needed to proceed in the quest, such as keys, ropes, weapons and so on.
The third section consists of magical items, and these can be weapons, healing potions, and various spells for more abstract uses such as learning what certain potions may be used for.

The Main Screen is the window to Karadoc's world, it displays your present position in the game, giving all the details you need to know concerning Karadoc and the items he finds.
There's a rucksack which, in the interests of safe keeping, stores all your goodies. They can be viewed as a whole, or scrolled individually.
In the first room of the adventure you'll find a personal log book. Examining it provides details on your health, score, and the percentage of completion of the present level.
A map is activated by pressing F1 and the result is a display of the rooms you've entered. Maps can be scrolled and zoomed at will.

Up to 10 individual quests can be saved via a separate disk and loaded as required, however there is a price to be paid.
The further you progress in the quest, the more money a subsequent save will cost. There is some good news, at least loading is free!


Cadaver logo

IMAGEWORKS £24.99 * Joystick and Keyboard

Karadoc the dwarf is a thieving, lying, low-down scumbag with only one thought in his head: treasure. The fact is that he has been sent by one warlord to take out another is only a side issue to him. Basically the guy has not had a good time of it and instead of accepting human warmth he has to compensate by rushing around Castle Wulf in search of gems, helmets, potions and gold and trying to beat things up before they get a chance to have a go at him.

Unhappily for him, his exit from the castle appears to be blocked and the evil Neuromancer awaits. Not the kind of entity you would want to take home to your mother, The Neuromancer is one of those monsters which does a hell of a lot of lurking - in the background that is. He, she or it has been in some pretty heavy battles in the past and so is obviously protecting an already fragile psyche by beating the life out of anyone or anything which cross its, his or her path.

What we have waiting here is a potential disaster for the poor avaricious dwarf and lunch for the Neuromancer. Or do we?
Much depends on your hand to eye coordination. Not only are there severe amounts of joystick waggling to be done but there are also several icons to be used.

Dragons lurk in various pools and ponds just waiting to get you. If that isn't good enough you have to avoid the green fluid which passes for water, in the same way as the sea off most English seaside resorts does - in other words it's highly toxic and will damage you beyond repair.

Pausing along the way you will find various life enhancing potions and one particular brew which is clever in its effect but not too hot if you need to move fast in the right direction. Remember to examine everything before playing with it, boys and girls.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Nice ones both. As you would expect from the Bitmaps, the sound is not overdone: it is also fairly effective with some beefy 'creatures dying in explosive agony' sound effects. The clink-clanking sound when you pick things up is a little tiring after a while but is not so irritating as to interfere with the gameplay. Thankfully all the audio works on a level which enhances the game.

Graphically the game is wonderful. The backgrounds are rendered in luscious 3D isometrics which are not marred by garish colours - the whole thing has a strangely sepia feel to it. Movement suffers a little with this form of graphics: you can find yourself hanging in mid-air or losing some perspective, but this is true of most 3D isometrics, so we won't quibble.

LASTING INTEREST

Quite a lot of his. While the opening screens are fairly simple with a few puzzles to tax the newer adventurers, the game only really gets going after you've managed to backtrack - won't say where - and have flicked a few levers. Once into the main body of the game there is enough gore to keep Sam Raimi (Who he? - Ed) happy, and there is also a deal of brain power required.

While the manual does nothing to help in playing the game, this merely acts as an incentive to beat the damned thing. A definite plus factor in keeping on with Cadaver is that Karadoc is such a great little guy: endearing and fairly hard with it.

STRATEGY

Cadaver is one of those games which has taken a great deal of working and will be fun to play from now until you finally finish the damn thing. There are a few illogicalities in the play, such as losing a key, or being pinned inside three spikes. Moans aside for a moment, there is no way in which the adventuresome type, the strategist or the arcade freak (or even Karadoc the Dwarf himself) won't get some real enjoyment out of this game. Not a classic, but most certainly an excellent game.


Cadaver logo Amiga Joker Hit

Warum dieses Spiel zuerst für den ST erschienen ist, wissen nur die Götter - und die Bitmap Brothers. Aber die sind ja immer für eine Überraschung gut. Oder hättet Ihr nach "Speedball" und "Xenon 2" ein klassisches 3D-Action-Adventure erwartet?

Der Zwerg Karadoc ist ein richtiger Antiheld: Überall genießt er den zweifelhaften Ruf eines feigen, verlogenen und diebischen Söldners. Während eines Kneipenbesuches erfährt unser Freund von einem Schloß voll sagenhafter Schätze. Zwar sollen die Reichtümer recht gut bewacht sein, aber in einem Anfall von Heldenmut (oder doch eher Habgier?!) beschließt Karadoc sich den Schuppen trotzdem mal genauer anzusehen. Leichter gesagt als getan - bei fünf Etagen mit über 500 Räumen! Das alte Gemäuer ist vollgepfropft mit Monstern aller Art, teuflischen Überraschungen und den verschiedensten Sammelobjekten wie Waffen, magischen Tränken, Zaubersprüchen oder alten Knochen. Gegangen und gehüpft wird per Joystick, im Bedarfsfall kann mit dem Feuerknopf ein Iconmenü aktiviert werden, das 15 weitere Aktionen ermöglicht (Essen, Trinken, Lesen, Gegenstände aufnehmen oder ablegen, usw.).

Zusätzlich ist die Tastatur belegt, unter anderem mit einer Kartenfunktion (Automapping mit Zoom und allen Schikanen), dem Inventory und Save/Load. Die digitale Lebensversicherung (Speichern) kostet aber Gold, und zwar umsomehr, je später im Spiel man darauf zurückgreift!

Die Grafik ist sehr detailreich, aber nicht besonders farbenfroh. Man muß den Bitmaps allerdings bescheinigen, daß sie aus der isometrischen 3D-Perspektive das Bestmögliche herausgekitzelt haben. Die düstere Titelmusik und die schaurigen Effekte während des Spiels sind gut, reichern aber nicht ganz an die Qualität von "Megablast" heran. Zumindest anfänglich ist die feinsinnig konstruierte Steuerung ein bißchen problematisch, nach einer gewissen Einspielzeit kommt man aber trotz der leichten Überbelegung ganz gut zurecht. Was Cadaver dann tatsächlich zum Suchtgame werden läßt, ist das ausgeklügelte Spieldesign: Der Schwierigkeitsgrad steigert sich schön langsam aber sicher, und vom Keller bis zur Chefetage des bösen Endgegners warten Abenteuer, Monster und Rätsel ohne Ende. Kurz und gut: Die Bitmap Brothers haben es immer noch voll drauf! (mm)


Cadaver logo CU Amiga Screen Star

The Bitmap Brothers have gained near god-like status in the software industry for producing top-notch games. Bitmap has become a by-word for quality. Cadaver, the second to last Bitmap game for Image Works before their defection to Renegade, is soon to be released and is every bit as good as their previous gamesware.

As Karadoc, a bloodthirsty psychopathic dwarf bounty hunter, you must enter a castle possessed by magic, evil creatures, traps and tricks, defeat a vile Necromancer, then escape to spend your hard-earned riches on a flagon of ale in the nearest hostelry.
The quest starts shortly after you've run your boat aground at the entrance of the caves that run beneath the castle. Unfortunately your boat decides to make friends with a rock and is rendered useless, so there's no turning back.

Moving through Cadaver takes more brain work than brawn. The start of level one is an exercise in exploration and collecting. The only obstacle to start with is a wall which is easily smashed up with a pickaxe. From there on the puzzles come thick and fast.

To help you with your conquests, messages and books are littered around the caves and in the crypts. These contain clues and hints. Although you can find your own way around, using these tips cuts down the amount of aimless wandering you might do while searching for inspiration.
Your main weapons are stones, which are in plentiful supply. Spells can also be used, but your supply is limited and it's best to save these for the later levels.

Once you get the hang of puzzle-solving you start to know what to look out for, and realise how the game system works and how the various objects can be manipulated.
Controlling Karadoc is done almost entirely through the joystick. Clicking on the fire button gives you access to the icons which allows you to examine or manipulate objects or to run through your inventory one object at a time. Hitting return brings up a full list of the contents of your back pack, saving you the need to scroll through the items individually.

Level one ends with a huge green dragon, which doesn't cause too many problems, providing you've done everything right until then. If you missed an important move you could well find yourself entering a prolonged battle.
This first level features a variety of corpses, skeletons, crypts and other not-so-nice creatures that hide out in damp caves.

Level two takes place inside the castle. The decor changes to bright walls and fine decoration and even the spell icons change from scrolls to wands as the game takes on a different feel. The puzzles, too, become more intricate and complex.

Cadaver contains five levels, each containing between 50 and 150 screens. The graphics are smart and imaginative and the sound effects are interesting to say the least. The puzzles give the game its substance and are pitched so that they're not too difficult but require quite a bit of thought and trial and error before you can solve them.
I only have one criticism: some of the room exits are very obscure. I wandered around for half an hour before I came across one - and that was almost too thin to see.

This minor gripe aside Cadaver is a strong package, and definitely one of the most complete arcade adventures to grace the small screen this year.


Cadaver harkens back to the days when a company called Ultimate ruled the 8 bit scene. They employed a 3D technnique called filmation which spawned many clones and created a unique game environment. It used a 3D view and allowed the player to move objects around the screen, stack them or jump on them. Since its first appearance in Knightlore on the Spectrum in 1984, this style has shown up on almost every home micro and in every conceivable scenario.

Cadaver logo

Imageworks, Amiga £24.99

Wulf Castle, a murky mysterious place, devoid of human life except for a vile necromancer, Dianos. Killer of King Wulf, it is said he abducts villagers for use in his black magic rituals. Karadoc the dwarf has been hired to fin and kill Dianos, taking any treasure he finds as payment.

Cadaver is a flickscreen, isometric 3-D arcade adventure with five levels of 70 screens, filled with objects, unsavoury creatures and treacherous traps. Objects are divided into a number of categories and when touched bring up icons in the lower left of the screen. The least you can do is search something (with a second icon to return you to walk around mode) and the maximum is five actions. Depending on the object, these actions include drink, read, open and give.

Food and water (held in barrels) are essential to restore energy lost from contact with creatures and the poisonous swamp water. Potion bottles often don't specify what ability/disability they give the consumer so they are quite a gamble. Scrolls give useful information or hold spells for use against adversaries or at certain locations. Tools, armour and weapons have more conventional functions and are accessed via a 'rucksack inventory'.

The castle holds many puzzles, solved using objects, spells, buttons and levers - the latter usually unlocking doors - and through interaction with castle inhabitants (some are friendly). As the castle is explored it is automatically mapped. The map shows rooms entered, highlights Karadoc's current locations, can be scrolled around and zoomed in on. The game position can be saved and loaded with appropriate spells, a gold fee (increasing with the level) required for saving.


Stuart Wynne The Bitmap Bros have effectively grafted an adventure interface onto a traditional isometric 3-D arcade game. A massive inventory, loads of puzzles and a profusion of commands from drink to pull to lever to fight. The need to explore and examine everything puts Cadaver in a different league from games such as Treasure Trap - pushing a few crates around won't get you far here. This really is an arcade adventure.
Thankfully the icon system works well, with the icons usually quite obvious in their meaning, and the way they appear only when necessary means the control system is never too unwieldy. After only a short while puzzles are being solved quite easily. This draws you into the game which gradually gets harder and, with five levels and approximately 350 rooms, dwarfs previous isometric games. All in all, a very impressive departure for the Bros which should keep gamesters occupied for ages.
Warren Lapworth I thought the Bitmap Bros would inject some speedy action to the isometric aardvark format but it is the usual 'explore, collect and use' affair, albeit on a more complex level than games it is inspired by. It is not easy, partly because too much emphasis has been put on the icons - you have to highlight one to do virtually anything and, on the default control setting, it is only too easy to accidentally bring them into use. As for the puzzles themselves... well, I have never been any good at this type of game and although I have had plenty of theories of what should be done and where, my success in Cadaver has been limited. This is partly due to the odd way certain objects are used - throw a pick to break a wall down for example. Nevertheless this is certainly the largest and most sophisticated isometric aardvark yet. Anyone prepared to sit back and think awhile should find Cadaver highly rewarding.

Cadaver: The Payoff logo

£1499 (requires original Cadaver)

The Pay Off is an add-on levels disk that gives Cadaver owners four new levels of puzzles to play with. Cadaver, (AF17 83%) was the Bitmap Brothers' isometric dungeon romp, that sent a dwarf scurrying around, solving problems for profit. The plot picks up to where Cadaver left off with the wobbly hero seeking the folks who hired him for the first mission.

The Pay Off uses monsters far more than the original, employing them as obstacles and as an active part of puzzle solutions. A sound 'sequel', at a sensible price, it features not only new tricks but completely new graphics for each level.
The Pay Off pulls fewer punches than Cadaver, as players are guaranteed familiarity with the mechanics of the game. If you own and enjoyed Cadaver, it's a must!


Cadaver: The Payoff logo Amiga Joker Hit

SOS an alle Fans von Karadoc - der kleine Kampfzwerg sitzt schon wieder mächtig in der Patsche! Diesmal hat es ihn sogar besonders böse erwischt, an seinem neuesten Abenteuer dürften selbst Experten lange zu kauen haben...

Soviel Pech kann eigentlich nur der Held eines Computerspiels haben: Da hat er sich nun unter Einsatz seines Lebens durch dieses teuflische Schloß gekämpft, und was ist der Dank? Als er zu, Abkassieren kommen will, sind die Leute, die ihm vollmundig eine fette Belohnung versprochen hatten, einfach verschwunden! Aber Karadoc ist Kummer gewohnt, also begibt er sich unverdrossen zurück nach Wulfheim und packt die nächsten vier Level an. Weil, zu tun gibt es hier wahrlich genug: Die Rätsel sind so gut, daß man sich alle Haare einzeln ausraufen könnte, die Monster dermaßen grimmig, daß unser Zwerg froh sein kann, daß es auch ein paar neue Zaubertränke und -sprüche gibt - tja, und überhaupt stirbt es sich sehr schnell in Wulfheim und Umgebung!

Sound und Steuerung sind zwar mehr oder weniger gleich geblieben, aber ansonsten ist The Payoff alles andere als nur der Neuaufguß eines alten Spiels. Die Story ist noch besser als beim ersten Mal, die isometrische 3D-Grafik hat ebenfalls zugelegt, und trotz der etwas geringeren Zahl von Räumen ist das Game insgesamt auch komplexer und actionreicher geworden. Nur eines ist es garantiert nicht - einfach! Wer Cadaver gespielt und gemocht hat, wird die Zusatzdisk eh als Pflichtkauf ansehen, und für alle anderen gibt es jetzt einen Grund mehr, sich dieses Meisterwerk der Bitmap Brothers anzuschaffen! (mm)


Cadaver: The Payoff logo

The Bitmap's first add-on disk - great for Cadaver fans, of sod all value to the rest of us.

First things first - this isn't a complete game, it's a levels disk (the first one we've reviewed, in fact) and the only way you're going to be able to play it is if you have a copy of the real Cadaver to boot up first. Level disks have become fairly popular over the last couple of years, though it's the first time the Bitmaps have done one - the idea is that you increase interest in a popular game, and satisfy the demands of fans for a sequel, without going to the time and effort of doing a full blow follow up.

The downside is that it's only going to be of interest to owners of the original game - and ones who are desperate for more of the same, at that - so the market is limited. The plus side is that since all you're really doing is changing locations, graphics, and particular in-game tasks (as well as perhaps fixing a few bits and pieces you may have felt were wrong about the original game) it's really only a couple of week's work. This one costs (two thirds of the price of the full Cadaver, but then it's a bit smaller (about two thirds of the size, in fact!) so all's fairly fair. (Or something).

So is it any good? Well, yes it is. The plot follows on nearly from the first game (our mercenary hero returns to collect his wages for the first mission, only to find that his employers have gone missing - what's up?), the main character still looks like his limbs aren't properly connected to his body when he walks (a bit of a downer) and overall everything gives the impression of being better than the first game, but not stunningly so.

Puzzles are still a mix of arcade style jumping about, arcade adventure style lever pulling and text adventure style lateral thinking, but in some ways the new tasks seem a bit more action packed than the last, or at least a bit more visually interesting. The monsters you come across are no longer mindless baddies out just to get in your way, but form integral parts of the puzzles and can even, in some cases, be won over to your side and used to your advantage.

Many of the locations are new too - the disk takes us outside into the streets of a village for the first time, for instance - and the distinctly Germanic look to the whole thing (from the names of the towns to the whole look and feel of your surroundings) goes up a notch as well, a neat reference to the particular success of the original game in Germany.

So there we have it. Lots of new rooms (200 or so), four new levels and a very professional looking product. Great news for fans of the first game, unlikely to be of any interest at all to people who didn't like it, and, erm, that's it really. Level disks, eh? Don't you just love them?


Cadaver: The Payoff logo

The Payoff is the sequel of the adventures of Cadaver, involving Karadoc, the heavily armoured person of diminished stature. An isometric puzzle game which takes place in a village setting, our diminutive hero is trying to claim his reward from patrons who seem to have conveniently taken leave of the country.

The game is in a similar style to the first adventure, the difference being new puzzles, rooms and riddles to solve. Targeted exclusively at Cadaver fanatics, the makers of the game used the skills of experienced players to find out what would make an exciting, new sequel. The result is a concise and sharp conundrum with plenty of mysteries to make the brain achieve cerebral pyrotechnics.

One of the most endearing aspects of the game is the character Karadoc. Something of an anti-hero and misfit, the poor misunderstood duffer is treated with insults and hatred by everyone he comes across. Probably because of this treatment, Karadoc has learned to look after himself and can usually get out of scrapes. The layout and background to the game is planned well, enabling the player to travel through rooms, village squares, temples and caves. Tip-toeing through the rooms is essential for picking up valuable objects, spells and potions. These can be used to befuddle the various monsters, which range from squeaky metallic blobs to floating blood shot eyeballs. Killing them is not necessary, in fact, they can be put to good use to help in the quest. For example, some monsters are heavily addicted to gold and will go to any lengths to acquire it. A nifty spell enables you to capture and then release them to collect gold from dangerous nooks and crannies that Karadoc would rather avoid.

The Payoff is filled with cryptic, mind bending puzzles which truly give a sense of satisfaction when solved. Although the game will be savoured by Cadaver fans, it could also be addictive for those who have not crossed swords with the character before. Unfortunately, though, you'll have to fork out for the original game's disk to load up these data disks.