To qualify as a member of Reknaught's Raiders, you must be an accomplished thief. By way of an aptitude test, you are dropped by boat at a remote spot in Kerovnia, complete with swag bag, and told to return with your booty only when you have ransacked the nearby castle and surrounding area.
There are plenty of valuables around if only you keep your eyes open - all you have to do is to get hold of them! There is the platinum chalice, for example. The only snag is that it is locked in a cage with a grizzly bear for company. A jewelled die lies in a slotted and locked case. How can it be released? A priceless brooch is hanging in mid-air, way out of reach - can you safely get near to it? Then, of course, there are others that are completely hidden, and have to be found by careful observation, and approached with the outlook of a thief.
Guild Of Thieves is a big adventure, with over one hundred locations. These are set in four main areas: the castle, a temple, a labyrinth of caves and the surrounding countryside. There is great variety in the problems, and a staggering number of objects that may, or may not, be of use in solving them. But now many are there just to add realism to the game, and how many are essential?
No billiard table would be complete without three balls, and for some reason, attributed to artistic license, this one has four! But are any of them of practical use?
The toilet comes complete with flushing system, lid and paper. It works, and can be used! Is there any use for that paper (other than the obvious)?
Surely there cannot be any use for the foam stuffing from inside a cushion, which has been used to conceal something useful from within? But be careful - you could well trip up if you make assumptions like that too often! Even the most innocuous and mundane of objects could just be the key to a whole new part of the game!
The part of the adventure map accessible to the player from the beginning is large. The problems range from gentle to difficult - but few are mind-bending. And as you begin to solve the problems, new parts of the land of Kerovnia begins to open up, and, perhaps, contain the very thing you were looking for somewhere else - so another problem is on the way to getting solved.
On the other hand, you may come across an entirely new set of puzzles!
It is this feature which makes Guild one of the most enjoyable games I have played in recent months. After drawing a basic map, and listing the known problems, together with the dozens and dozens of objects I had come across, I found I was able to sit back quietly and think of ways to approach each problem.
The construction of the game is such that many can be tackled quite quickly when starting to replay from scratch, once a course of action has been decided upon. This is extremely useful, since it is all very well having a number of saved positions to fall back on, but you may have unwittingly saved these with a flawed start.
Guild is a game which has to be explored time and again before attempting a final solution, for there are many clues lying around in books and magazines. These may take time to register, since often they will relate to problems not yet stumbled upon.
Text is the most important part of any adventure, and Anita Sinclair of Scrolls assured me that the parser, vocabulary, and complexity of plot, takes absolute priority. You might be forgiven for doubting that when you see the graphics! For these, believe it or not, make even those of The Pawn look crude in comparison! In the same roll-down style which sets them apart, many pictures have infinitely more detail than ever before seen in an adventure. There is the castle lounge, for example, with the sun streaming in through the arched windows, throwing a subtle band of shadow across the beige wall. You can even decide whether the pattern in the carpet, upon which stands a very ornate table, is to you liking!
Whilst the Amiga has a graphics capability superior to that of the Atari ST, apart from the 'special' title screen, Amiga owners will get pictures identical to those on the ST. The ST is the machine used to produce the basic 16-bit pictures, and Magnetic Scrolls are so satisfied with the quality, they feel there is little point in using the Amiga for development - a machine which they find infuriatingly clumsy to use at times.
Geoff Quilley, who illustrated The Pawn, is responsible for the pictures. The 64 pictures are copied from Geoff's Amiga originals by artist Tristram Humphries. These have a different style, and again, far more detail and colour, than those on 64 Pawn. This is achieved by something of an optical illusion, creating the effect of colours that do not exist on the 64 by using tiny points of different colours close together - a most time consuming but worthwhile effort.
The Guild Of Thieves adventure itself was developed on a VAX and had been in the making since before even The Pawn became available on the QL, way back in late 1985. Expect both Amiga and 64 version to be available very soon after its initial release. It will come in the usual Rainbird high-quality blue box, complete with a glossy novella and instructions.
If you own a system on which it can be played - go out and buy it! Even at the relatively high price compared with tape games, it is extremely good value, for there is simply so much in it, so many puzzles to crack. None of them are so mind-bendingly impossible that you are likely to become frustrated and give up.
Well, except, perhaps, the dice problem. Or that macaw who won't co-operate. Or perhaps the ice constrictor who keeps squeezing me to death. That reminds me, how am I to practise black magic? Oh yes, and then there is a little matter of the safe with no key, and that pre-historic bird, and... Nothing much really - certainly an adventure to enjoy!