Galdregon's Domain logo

Dave Eriksson explores the generation of adventure games where point and click has replaced type and spell.

ADVENTURES are changing. Once there were only txt games, anything graphic was all in the mind. Then we had what we glibly called graphic adventures, similar types of games but with some pretty crude pictures that, if anything, destroyed the pictures your mind built up from the text.
With the coming of the Amiga, these graphics took a healthy step forward. Some can actually improve our mental simulations of places far away in space and time. Mouse control is a logical roll forward. Apart from suiting us lazy types, it is an excellent way to keep a good flow of play, especially in role playing adventures. In the jargon Dungeon Master is a "third generation".

A new adventure in this category is Galdregons Domain from Pandora Software - good graphics, a smooth mouse and icon command structure, and a role playing game that will tax those little grey cells.
Had Galdregons Domain appeared before Dungeon Master, it would have received better reviews. Dungeon Master has slick graphics with animation and you are prompted to tackle it in a very definite, systematic order. Galdregon is free ranging, has no animation, and although to win through you must solve some sections in a strict order, there are few hints as to that order.

You play the part of a barbarian, a northlander skilled in the use of arms. Seeking fame and fortune you visit the city of Secnar. There you are enlisted by its king in the fight against the evil priests of School.
The priests have resurrected the long dead wizard Azazael, who intends to seek vengeance on all mankind. His aim is to find the five lost power gems of Zator and use them to control and enslave all who stand against him.

YOUR quest is to find the gems and return with them to the king. The location of only one gem is known - it is in the hands of an evil Lich, an undead wizard, who rules the catacombs under the city. You stand no chance at all against the Lich and his minions unless you can retrieve the other gems, gaining experience, weapons and armour in the process.

Leaving the castle you will meet many creatures, not all evil. Question them. Some will provide useful clues, some will merely pass the time of day.
There are mysterious cottages, inns, forests and towers to visit. Rangers, elves, gnomes and hobglobins wander the countryside. You must be careful not to enter into battle too readily. Kill the wrong opponent and you could bring down the righteous wrath of his companions.

Leaving the castle you have only food, a lantern, a dagger and a healing potion. A visit to nearby cottages will provide you with a magic sword and a few magical scrolls. You are now equipped for the first stage.

Any weapon you find will sooner or later break in the heat of battle, so make certain you have a back-up weapon ready. Once you have overcome enemies you can take whatever they were carrying. Various small flask will contain potions. Watch out for poison.
Scrolls are once-only magic spells written on human skin. They range from a simple spell to give light to useful offensive ones wo summon up fireballs or poison clouds.

Half of the screen shows your view beneath which is a line of sideways scrolling text. The lower part of the screen is the command area accessed with the mouse, icons and menus.
Food and drink affect stamina, healing potions or clerical cures. Strength can be won with potions or spells, and also appears to increase as you progress though the game and acquire better armour.

Click on the right mouse button and the display changes to the inventory screen, a picture of you on the left, and two pull-down menus showing you what you are carrying and what is on the ground.
Clicking on a dead body shows what the creature was carrying: click on a chest or bag to see what is inside. Items may be dragged from one menu to the other, although there is a weight limit to what you can carry around with you. Armour you want to wear should be dragged directly on your body.

When out in the open, clicking twice on the right button displays a map of the countryside with a cross showing your location. It shows all except one of the major places of interest, although you may not realise their importance just from the map.

Movement controls seem slightly strange. If you see a door in a building, but not exactly in the centre of the screen, you must go past the building and then turn towards it before you can enter.
Cottages are simple one-roomed or two-roomed buildings, towers are two storeys high and have a few more rooms.

Forests, the Caves of Doom, the Temple of Set, the Labyrinth and the Castle all have a number of locations and must be mapped very carefully. Note that walls, whether made of trees or brick, may not have any thickness, so watch what you draw on squared paper.
When you are in forests or underground caves there is an indication of when a path leads off to the left or right. In other locations what appears to be a continuous wall to one side may contain a doorway which is not visible unless you look directly at the wall.

Before you start make sure you have several formatted disks ready to save your game position. It is very easy to die in Galdregon's Domain - most of the special locations have hordes of unpleasant creatures just itching to spill your blood.
It is easy to buy ale to increase your stamina, or a cure to improve your health. Unfortunately it is not as easy to find the money with which to pay for them.
Scrolls and potions have to be used to the best effect for the supply isn't inexhaustible.

My review copy seemed to have a few bugs scattered the lower half of the screen with coloured pixels, a situation that grew worse as I progressed. Still, Galdregon's Domain is a welcome addition for the role playing gamer. Let's hope there are some more like this in the pipeline.


Galdregon's Domain logo

PANDORA

Once upon a time - in the deepest, darkest depths of the Lands of Mezron - there was this wizard guy wandering around with the weird name of Azazael. Old Az belonged to an elite occult movement and generally did evil thing. His wrong-doings didn't make him a happy man though.

GAMEPLAY

Az is searching. Searching for the five gems of Zator. It's up to you to get hold of the gems before him. These little gems aren't like the diamante earrings in your ma's jewel box; they actually do things like giving your powers.
This might seem like a fairly easy task - after all, it's only five sparkly things. Unfortunately there's a twist to the tale: the gems are spread across 2500 different locations. The problems don't stop there. You see, there are also a range of incredibly ugly beasts who've taken it upon themselves to guard the gems. This would be fine if they made some attempt at being friendly, but do they? Do they hell! If you're going to get hold of the precious gems then you'll need to make lots of stealthy moves and do some quick thinking.

Help can be attained by popping down to the local tavern where you can communicate with the natives. The friendly chaps will give you information on the bad guys and clues as to where the gems are hidden. But beware, these guys have the morals of a skunk - and smell just as badly, if you're not careful they'll make moves to destroy you.


INTERACTION

Communication with this sort of game is always dubious. Ideally you could sit in front of your monitor and chat verbally to all the different characters. Galdregon's Domain doesn't offer this, but the range of options available are extensive.
Along the bottom of the screen is a box which gives you an extensive choice of options for each situation. By pointing the mouse onto one of these and clicking you can select the feature. To the side of these are icons used to provide access to all sort of spells and fighting options.


GAMEPLAY

The graphics set the game aside from its forefathers. Brilliant detail can be found in every backdrop, and the characters look menacing enough to have you quivering in your boots. One of Domain's best features is that you'll never come up against a grey wall - every single screen employs a wide range of colours and detail.

The sound effects have not been forgotten either: digitised sound effects accompany each location and a range of grunts and groans fill the air during combat. You begin to feel involved in the action. Switch off the lights and turn up the volume; you'll soon forget that you have to be at work the next day.


CONCLUSION

Galdregon's Domain is similar to the now infamous Dungeon Master, but is set aside from the rest by its great graphics and atmospheric sound. You'll be wandering the territory for ages. And with a Galdregon II promised, you just know what you'll be doing every night for the next decade. It's a great game and well worth the challenge. You'll be hearing a lot more about Galdregon's Domain from now on.


Galdregon's Domain logo

Pandora
Price: £19.99

It had to happen sooner or later. Here it is: the first of the Dungeon Master clones.

GD is a little run of the mill. Adventure games have always played a large part in the software market and, up until recently, have been text based, with one or two rare exceptions. Then came Dungeon Master, the first 16-bit icon-controlled adventure. It featured 'real' 3D first-perspective views and on-screen-manual-manipulation. Now comes GD.

Control is via the mouse and a group of icons at the bottom of the screen. At the bottom right are the four movement icons (rotate left, rotate right, move forward, move backward). On the bottom left are six icons that do all the adventure bits. First of these is the attack icon. This brings up a sub-menu of all the weaponry you are carrying, including your fists. Click on one of the items, and you are prompted to select an enemy.

Click onto one of those on the main screen (see later) and you are greeted with a nice effect that tells you whether or not you are hit. Next to that icon is your compass. Then there is your scroll inventory, which lets you use any scrolls you have collected. Next to that is the game actions menu. This presents you with a list of options such as open/close door, lock/unlock door and talk (if there is anyone to talk to).

Above that is the main screen. This gives you a detailed first person view of your surroundings, including any people in the area. The interiors of buildings are bland and get a little repetitive but, outside, there are some pretty breathtaking views to be found. But one funny thing is, it seems that everyone in the world looks like one of four different people.

The sound is great. Lots of 'ughs' and 'aaarghs', while in combat and a pretty loading tune put it slightly above your average Amiga soundtrack.

What do I think of it? Normally I like this kind of game, but I could not help getting really bored after about thirty minutes of play. There just is not enough variation in the game to make it lasting, which I remember is exactly the same problem with Dungeon Master. Maybe the next one will be fun. Let us hope so.


Galdregon's Domain logo

Pandora, Amiga £24.95

Azazael, once dead, now resurrected, can destroy whole armies at the wave of a wand - his little finger contains more magic ability than a sorcerer's apprentice can make a mess of learning in a year (and none of those walking broomsticks, either). Worse still - yep, there's more - he's gathering his forces for a massive assault on King Rohan and Galdregon's Domain.

Unless you - one nasty, iron-wielding, mean-man barbarian - manage to recover the five gems of Zator, no-one, but no-one, is going to be able to stop him. Aargh!

The action is shown in first person perspective 3D and you can pick up objects, talk, drink potions, check your status, fight etc, using the icons at the base of the screen.

Not that all this is just yer usual gory hack and drink blood of stuff. This may be abit unusual for a barbarian, but it might help if you try talking to people and helping them out when they ask you a favour.

You never know - you might actually enjoy the odd two minutes being nice. Make a nice change, anyway...


Gordon Houghton I've been waiting for this with baited breath ever since I first heard about it last year. Is it as good as I expected? Erm... no, not really. I was hoping for something with interactive graphics, nifty icons and brilliant first person perspective 3D. OK, so it hasn't got those, but it has got some substantial gameplay: a huge game map, plenty of characters and lots of magic. It's pretty hard to get into, though, so I reckon it's been designed to appeal more to specialised RPG freaks than your average arcade player. If you've got an A500 and you just can't wait for your own version of Dungeon Master, don't rush out and buy this straight away. Keep calm, take a deep breath and try it first.
Kati Hamza It's no good, I can't keep my mouth shut any longer - I've just got to say it... Dungeon Master! There, it's out! That's basically the trouble with Galdregon's Domain - it's so similar to Dungeon Master in design (3D, inventory screen and all that), so it's a bit of a disappointment to find that it's not as good. For a start there's only one character, little animation, the fighting options are much less complicated and the 3D graphics are a bit confusing. Once you've got over that though, Galdregon's Domain actually turns out to be a pretty nifty game in its own right. There are plenty of puzzles, loadsa magic, more than enough people to bash and an enormous environment to explore. Think you're a well-hard barbarian? Then check this out.
Zzap's Thing: Thingies' Domain!