LYNTON stands in front of the inscriptions, scribbling in his notebook. His shadow moves wildly on the wall in front of him, cast by a flickering oil lamp. Working feverishly, he is totally oblivious to the horrible fat that will befall him before the end of the third paragraph.
Suddenly a strange wind slams the door to the burial tomb shut, and Lynton is trapped. But worse, as he turns, his lamp falls to the floor and shatters, spreading burning oil which ignites the dried leaves and timber scatted on the floor. The tomb fills with smoke, and Lynton realises that he has only seconds to live before it becomes his tomb too...
...which is when you take over. With your last few breaths, you must try to preserve as much information as possible. The more you can save, the more help you will have been to those who will come to investigate your absence.
You have only a short time before you are overcome with the heat and smoke, so full use must be made of the small number of moves available. Whatever you do, you cannot thwart the prophesy of the opening paragraph; Lynton dies.
This "prologue" is a game in its own right, and finishing it will provide vital clues. It is an original start to a game - a miniature and exciting adventure before the main challenge begins.
Once this prologue is ended - by the unavoidable and uncomfortable death of the good professor - you begin the adventure proper, playing the son Richard as he tries to solve the mystery of his father's death.
One of the first locations you'll visit is the tomb, and if the prologue was played correctly there will be some clues waiting to be carefully examined. The major one is a notebook, complete with suitably vague scribblings. These notes point to a unusual astral arrangement, which when combined with strange happening the locality, all point to some rather dark deeds afoot. To add to the general weirdness, the adventure starts on Sunday, March 20, 1990 - which is particularly odd because my diary shows March 20 as a Tuesday.
The program provides a traditional text only system, and a menu based one for the terminally lazy. The text parser is a pleasure to use, and it is definitely a shame to play with only the menu system and so miss out on it.
Text can be edited, and a history of the lats few moves is kept in memory. Typing mistookes can corrected easily. If you type "go mouth" all you have to do is hit arrow up and replace the m with an s. Almost as much fun as AmigaDos.
You can also define macros. For example, you might want to type Invent instead of the longer Inventory all the time (wears out the keyboard, don't you know). In fact all the usual features such as ram load and save are included, as well as allowing complete control over how the text is displayed on the screen.
The command Thinking about will provide a way of discovering what Richard knows about people and places. This is something that has always been lacking from games where you play a character other than yourself. It is obvious that the character you are controlling must have some background knowledge of their own, but in other games you could never actually get at it - a serious omission.
A sense of humour is always important in an adventure, and this time I think it's just right. Not too sarcastic, not too silly. Unless, of course, you type something strange like "eat feet" which will produce an equally silly reply. I also like the response when you ask for your score so far.
If you are stuck, the menu system might provide some clues. All the possible verbs are there at the bottom of the screen and can easily be selected with the cursor keys or a click on the mouse. Once a verb such as Drop has been highlighted, all the objects being carried will appear. You might think that having all the options displayed like this will make the puzzles easier to solve, but this isn't the case, as the problems require some thought.
Graphics are provided for all main locations, loaded from disc when needed. They take the form of small sketches to help you visualise what is going on but if, like me, you prefer to stick to the mental images conjured by the text, you can ignore the drawings if you wish.
Demon's Tomb uses a good system, combined with an interesting plot. It is a tough adventure, with many locations and puzzles to solve, and should appeal to the old school of adventurers.