Strange goings on in the Devonshire countryside

Demon's Tomb: The Awakening logo

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.

Demon's Tomb: The Awakening logo

MELBOURNE HOUSE £19.99 * Mouse and Keyboard

This demon - well Brian, he's a demon. A terrier of quite extraterrestrial proportions. So vicious that he makes Vinny Jones look like a pacifist. Your job, in this text adventure, is simply to stop the hideous creature from wreaking violent vengeance on this poor planet of ours.

It would appear that there was once this fellow Barfwyd who had two sons, Thai and Tzen. Both good boys, nice to their father and learned in the craft of high priesthood. Unhappily the two lads argued about whether or not the Universe had an end, as one does. And as usual one of them, Tzen, turned to the bad. Not just smoking behind the sheds: The Forbidden God, Darsuggotha, got his claws into him. After a bit of openly worshipping the Forbidden one, Tzen was banished to the 'Unholy Island of Breton'. But he's all set to rise again - a mere vehicle for the evil Darsuggotha. Unless, that is, you can stop him.

The game begins with you playing archaeologist Prof Edward Lynton. You are exploring a burial mound and have realised that dark things are afoot. Why do you begin by playing your father? Easy. Pa gets it in the neck within the first few rounds. Burnt to a cinder. The point about this prologue is firstly to get a feel for the game and secondly to allow the poor professor to save some clues from the flames.

There is no way you can save the sorry chap so do not waste time trying to. You only have a precious few rounds in which to secrete the secrets. It must be said that this 'straight-in-at-the-deep-end' approach works a treat. All very turbo-charged, it forces you to think but provides some excitement too.

Once you are happy that you have saved enough clues as well as leaving a few pointers too, you die and the game passes over to your 16-year-old son, Richard. Your dad's never been too together but this year he even managed to miss your birthday. So, bereft of prezzies and just a little worried about the old duffer you go out looking for him. Oh, there's also your trusty though utterly brainless dog, Sam.

What makes it easy to 'feel good about yourself', are the excellent documentation and numerous ways of playing the game available to you. Demon's Tomb can be played via a menu system, straight text entry, two column screen, different colours and a whole host of other wonderments. If you get too lazy to bother thinking up verbs for yourself, use the menus. If you're feeling a tad more adventurous you can define one word to mean another and define macros, which are multiple commands.


For some strange reason, still beyond me, text adventures suffer in the sound department. Demon's Tomb has no sound at all. While it does not suffer by this, it might have been improved by the occasional screaming howl and spooky tune.

The graphics are adequate. With Graphics mode on, a press of F1 will bring up some well-crafted piccies, which might even hide some clues. F2 acts as a her-comes-the-boss button for those terrible people who play when they should be working. Happily then, the crucial atmosphere is not adversely affected and the pictures really add to the enjoyment of the game.


This one should run and run. You, rather than the game, make the discoveries, solve the puzzles and get irritated by Sam - the lovable mutt. The descriptive passages, which can make or break a game of this type, are evocative, witty and far from being intrusive. Demon's Tomb has a good, solid, no-mucking-about feel to it which does not detract from the intelligence needed to play it or the excitement it generates. Not only are repellent demons, dead dads, windswept moors and impenetrable mansions in abundance, there are also innumerable strategies to cope with them.


As down-the-line text adventure, Demon's Tomb has a great deal in its favour. The opening rounds, in which you play the dad, are an excellent way to get into the game. Scenes, plot and puzzles are provided with intelligence and not a little flare.

Defeating the foe and avenging your father's death (and your lack of birthday goodies) are not easy tasks to complete with sanity, body and dog intact. The help pages at the back of the manual provide hints and tips in an encoded form, so even when you are attempting to cheat you still have to think. Lord knows what Demon's Tomb - He's Awakened and Wants his Breakfast will be like, but we can only hope it will be as good.

Demon's Tomb: The Awakening logo

Adventures sind in letzter Zeit ja wirklich Mangelware, entsprechend groß war natürlich meine Begeisterung, als das "Dämonengrab" in der Redaktion eintrudelte. Dennoch schien Skepsis angebracht, zumal nicht Infocom, Level 9 oder Magnetic Scrolls für das neue Game verantwortlich zeichnen, sondern "Melbourne House". Diese company ist mir nämlich noch als Schöpfer mittelprächtiger Kassetten-Spiele für den C64 in schlechter Erinnerung...

Die Story läßt sich jedenfalls nicht übel an: Was haben die verfeindeten Zwillingsbrüder Thai und Tzen aus grauer Vorzeit mit dem reichlich seltsamen Tod einer alten Dame, der erst letzten Mai das Herz buchstäblich in Stücke gerissen wurde, zu tun? Und vor allem: Warum ist Papi, seines Zeichens Archäologe, noch immer nicht von seiner Buddelei an einer alten Grabstätte zurückgekehrt - noch dazu an seinem Geburtstag? Fragen über Fragen, zu deren Klärung man zunächst einmal in die Rolle des Archäologen Prof. Edward Lynton schlüpft, der (gefangen in der Ausgrabungsstätte) seinem sicheren Flammentod ins Auge blickt.

Nur wenn es gelingt, so viele Hindernisse wie möglich zu hinterlassen, hat man später in der Rolle seines Sohnes Richard eine Chance, das drohende Unheil abzuwenden!

Leider stellt man in der Praxis recht bald fest, daß die Fantasie des Autors nicht unbedingt auch die Programmierer beflügelt hat: Demon's Tomb ist ein klassisches Adventure mit reichlich Text und einer Unmenge von Grafiken, die allerdings sehr klein und von äußerst bescheidener Qualität sind.

Sound gibt's keinen, und die Rätsel sind allesamt relativ leicht, einmal davon abgesehen, daß nahezu lückenlose Englischkenntnisse vorausgesetzt werden. Allerdings wurde eine Menge Arbeit in die Benutzerfreundlichkeit investiert: der Spieler hat die Wahl, ob er seine Anweisungen lieber per Tastatur oder per Maus (ähnlich wie z.B. in "Maniac Mansion") aus einem Menü herauspicken mag.

Leider gibt sich einerseits der Parser ziemlich unverständig, andererseits ist die Kramerei in dem etwas zu groß geratenen Menü ausgesprochen lästig. Dafür können noch die Preferences verändert werden, man kann sich Kurzformen oft gebrauchter Befehle erstellen (z.B. X für "Examine" etc.) und auch die üblichen Funktionen wie "Undo" oder "Ramsave/Load" sind vorhanden.

Was also bleibt unter'm Strich? Nun, ein reichlich mittelmäßiges Text/Grafik-adventure, das zu den goldenen Zeiten von Infocom oder Magnetic Scrolls nur Müde belächelt worden wäre, dank der momentanen Dürreperiode aber zumindest für Adventure-Freaks mit ausgezeichneten Englischkenntnissen interessant sein dürfte. Immerhin ist die Story spannend, und die Bilder haben auch ihren Sinn, was ja leider keine Selbstverständlichkeit ist.

Addiert man jetzt noch die Tatsache, daß sich eigentlich alle gestellten Aufgaben mit Logik bewältigen lassen, so könnte man schon mal einen Blick auf Demon's Tomb riskieren - nur scheinen mir die geforderten 85 Märker reichlich hoch gegriffen! (mm)

Demon's Tomb: The Awakening logo

Melbourne House/Silhouette Software
Price: £24.99

Melbourne House's latest adventure is a tale of dark deeds and wrongdoings in a murky, mythological setting. As Richard Lynton, son of a famous archaeologist, you must rescue your father's notes and work out the whereabouts of the soon-to-be-awakened evil priest.

Demon's Tomb is presented in one of the most flexible adventure systems I have ever seen. A text adventure with graphics which are artistically drawn, and which displays as inset pictures occupying about a quarter of the screen area. These are accompanied by a caption relating to their context in the game.

Commands can either typed direct from the keyboard, or selected from a menu-entry system using the mouse. The text size and format can be changed, as can the foreground and background colours of both the text area and the menu. You can even have a two-column text display.

Other easy-to-play features include an advanced parser that will try and anticipate the end of an unfinished sentence, commands like UNDO, RAMSAVE and RAMLOAD as well as the usual disk save and load, plus a line editor and userdefined macros. This enables the player to substitute an abbreviation for a frequently used command. For example, after entering DEFINE IN = INVENTORY, using the letters IN alone will save the player typing in the whole word.

Help is discreetly built into the game, using a THINK ABOUT command. Somehow, this seems far less like 'cheating' than using the word HELP, for it encourages the player to think about what he's doing.

The system allows you to adjust the mode of play to the player's taste. There is even a panic button that clears the screen and displays the df0:> prompt for those who play the game at work. When in panic mode, any text entered will draw the response: "This machine is busy - do not touch!".

The only flaw in the game that I came across was when I commanded Richard's dog Sam to fetch the outline of the professor's dead body, and he obligingly picked it up in his mouth. Hmm... yes, well every adventure has its silly moments, doesn't it?
If The Jetsons is a lighthearthed adventure ideally suited for the beginner, then here are some meaty problems. With plenty of atmosphere, this is for the more experienced adventurer to get his teeth into.

Demon's Tomb: The Awakening logo

Virgin/Melbourne House, Amiga £19.99

What do you call a moor that isn't? No, not a less but an exmoor. And it's here, in deepest, darkest Devon (and Somerset) that an ancient horror stirs. The very fabric of time and space is at risk as forces of good and evil prepare to battle. And guess who is in the thick of it (but thankfully you've got your trusty dog Sam with you? just in case things get woof).

While working in an archaic tomb your father, an expert Egyptologist (what's he doing diggin' in Devon then?), dies a sudden and horrible death. His disappearance naturally causes concern and you set out to discover what's become of him.

However, plunging you straight in at the deep end, Demon's Tomb begins with you actually playing your father as he explores the tomb. Accidentally - or so he thinks! - his lamp tips over and ignites the dry leaves that lie on the floor of the tomb? just as the door slams shut. He suddenly has very little time in which to store his records in a place safe from the now-raging fire, especially if future explorers are to learn from his findings. There is no way to save your father though, he's doomed to die.

If he doesn't manage to save everything from the flames before they engulf him, completion of Demon's Tomb is impossible. Fortunately, you're given the chance to play the prologue again before entering the adventure proper.

In the main game you play Richard as he strives to discover what's happened to his dad. Mapping is fairly logical and Demon's Tomb lets you wander around without having to do anything to begin with. However, as you stroll, the clock ticks on. And as there's a time limit to this adventure, it's best to get down to business quickly.

A good atmosphere is created using adequate text descriptions and attractive graphics. Humour nestles nicely in the prose; unlike many adventures it doesn't thrust itself at you but gently touches your arm, leans forward, and whispers jokes in your ear - some of which nearly made me laugh. Try typing in Score? then hang on to your insides.

As well as having the Examine routine (although you have to be carrying items before you can examine them), Demon's Tomb also includes a Think About feature which allows you to er? well, think about items and people you've seen or met in the game. This nice little feature provides more clues about your surroundings and experiences.

Although most problems and solutions are sensible, some are illogical. For example whilst amid the oak wood, dropping an object then picking it up results in you being transported to a different location. Very odd, particularly as there's no indication of it being a magic wood.

The ability to customise the screen (40/60/80 column, two columns of text, and Text or Menu option) is great and Demon's Tomb features many more really useful options: user definable abbreviations (such as defining X for example), undo last move, previous line recall and edit, and ram save/load. The Text or Menu option is most useful; playing in menu mode (pick 'n' click, basically) provides clues to playing 'cause all examinable and Think About objects are listed, plus all verbs and adjectives available.

The packaging claims that Demon's Tomb features 'Some of the toughest problems you'll ever tackle'. For me, this wasn't true, as I'm sure it won't be for every seasoned adventurer (if I were any more seasoned I'd be a Madras). Nonetheless, the game is good. I found it a little easy to make progress but thoroughly enjoyed my romp through Devon.. well who wouldn't?