Lurking Horror, The logo CU Amiga Superstar

Infocom/Activision 64/128
Price: £24.99 (64) disk
£29.95 (Amiga)

There is a blizzard raging outside the GUE Institute of Technology as you sit, late into the evening, at your terminal. You have an urgent assignment to complete. But something has gone wrong, your files have been screwed up, and all you seem to be able to edit is a document emanating, it seems, from the Department of Alchemy. What you see on your screen, is so horrific, that you faint... or do you?

You wake up in a sweat, from a very vivid nightmare, and find yourself clutching a cool smooth stone, with a very strange symbol carved into it. Hungry, you go into the nearby kitchen, and feel distinctly uneasy as you microwave a carton of Chinese food. It bears that same symbol. (M&S? Ed)

You decide to check with Alchemy, to see whether your file is on their terminal. As the weather prevents you from leaving the building, it seems the only route is via the basement and tunnels that link the various college buildings. Following a number of student deaths, these have been declared unsafe and placed off-limits. At this time of night, there'll be no-one around to stop you... will there?

But as you emerge from the Aerospace basement at the end of the so-called "Infinite Corridor" you notice there is a cleaner, busy with a floor-waxing machine. He seems determined not to let you through, deftly manoeuvring his machine in your path each time your try to step past him. You feel you want to murder him, but as you are about to split his head with a handy fire-axe, he gets off his waxer, and moves threateningly towards you, looking intensely in the direction of your throat, which he proceeds to strangle.

Successfully passing the waxer leaves you shaken and sickened, but nevertheless, you head towards the Alchemy lab, where the lights are still on. The professor in charge is less than helpful over your missing files. Something interesting is going on in the next room, and as you edge towards the archway, it becomes obvious that the prof is most anxious that you don't enter.

Giving your file up as a bad job, you decide to further explore the basement and tunnels, while you have the chance. As well as pipes and cables, there's all sorts of junk stored down there. A rummage around soon leads to yet another appearance of that strange symbol! - on a stone altar underground chamber. Nearby, is a covered pit, which reveals the fate of those missing students. What's down there causes you to look away, and put back the cover in revulsion.

If Station Fall was akin to a science fiction movie, then Lurking Horror, written by Dave Lebling, co-founder of Infocom and author of Zork among many other games, is as near as you'll get to taking part in a horror movie. There's all sorts of gelatinous tendrils, clawed flying monsters, killer rates, and severed human parts, all waiting to scre you, as you go on to solve the next problem. And you get the feeling that sooner or later, you must lure HIM with a suitable sacrifice, and have the means to destroy HIM at your disposal when he appears.

Lurking Horror is not a humorous game, but it has its amusing moments, plus, of course, the usual range of Infocom workable gadgets, such as a microwave, an elevator, and a forklift truck. No Infocom adventure would be complete without some reference to the lore that has built up over the years, and so it's a delight to come across a container of Frobozz Magic Floor Wax (and Dessert Topping_, and unsurprising to find a Hacker in the computer room.

An Urchin who lurks around the building, his threadbare Parka bulging suspiciously, could have walked straight out out of Zork I - but has he the same gifts as his counterpart? And what is to be done about his newly hatched, slimey, chanting, brothers?

Most of the problems are not too difficult to solve - it's spotting them that's not so easy, for this is a game in which it is often more difficult to find something to do next, than to do it.

The vocabulary is not always too easy, either. One or two unusual words seem to be required, although to be fair, they are mentioned in the text. They just require noticing and using! Some of the replies leave a lot to be desired, including an unforgivable "How can you do that to a sign?" if you try to read signs that aren't meant to be read. Of course, it's all relative, for that sort of reply is quite commonplace in many adventures - it's just that such a high standard has come to be expected from Infocom.

The Lurking Horror, along with Station Fall, are the first two games to be released in Infocom's new packaging. Whilst the overall size and shape remains the same (handy if you proudly stack your collection on a shelf) the interior is quite different. Gone is the booklet stapled into the cover, and the plastic covered internal box containing the goodies.

Instead, you get a n outer case holding a slide-out container. This does have the advantage that the printed matter that comes with the game is flexible in format, not being restricted to the package sized booklet. LH comes with an Operating guide for your version of the software, a Technical Manual with playing instructions and tips a glossy Freshman's Guide to the G.U.E. Tech, a plastic Student's ID card, a gelacious plastic creepy-crawly, and three admission tickets as well as the disk, and various other bits and pieces.

If you want a real gruesome spine-chiller, you will not be disappointed with Lurking Horror. High recommended for playing late at night in a darkened room!