If you've been a big fantasy fan since you were knee-high to a hobbit then this game may appeal to you. If you're into swords and sorcery, Conan the Schwarzenegger and so on, you may as well skip the next paragraph.
Shadow Sorcerer is set on the world of Krynn, home of the Dragonlance saga. The whole story is contained in an immense set of books, which was cleverly designed by TSR (owners of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game) to be the cornerstone of a marketing era. Put it another way - the background is Tolkienesque with a few twists.
The good guys in the game are the Companions. The game starts just after said crew have feed the slave population of a city called Pax Tharkas and imprisoned the former master race (the Draconians).
The situation isn't as rose as it seems. The ex-slave refugees have nowhere to to and nothing to eat. The Draconians are not going to stay walled-up forever - they'll break out in a day or two, and they'll hunt you down.
You've got to find food ans shelter for the refugees and get them to a permanent sanctuary. Blocking your goal are a varied assortment of monsters, several mountain ranges, and a democratically elected group of refugee leaders who bicker all the time.
Shadow Sorcerer is played on two different levels. The game starts on the strategic map. It's composed of hexagons and only shows the main mountain ranges. The objective is to get from the top end of the map to the southern part, where you understand a lost band of dwarves live, who might help you out with refugee resettlement.
You don't have the mundane task of moving the refugees around the map. Instead, you control a small scouting partyof up to four characters, drawn from the larger group of Companions. You can also mix and match your small team.
There's a wide range of talent in the group, from a dark horse magus called Raistlin to a sweet old cleric named Elistan. The usual ensemble of heroes, cut throats and warrior maidens fills the gap in the middle.
The main body will follow your party, gradually. As you move through the terrain, detail gets filled in on the main map. The terrain varies from old roads to lakes (which are totally impassable).
When you find something of interest - whether it's a small group of monsters or a whole underground labyrinth - the view changes to an isometric close up of your group and any surrounding nasties.
There are magic items and weapons to collect which can help later on. Gradually you pick up the plot threads. Without giving much away, the manual gives plenty of clues (assuming that you read it).
Hit and miss
It may sound wonderful, but I've got more reservations than a tribe of Red Indians. It's not so much the way you play the game - the method of controlling your heroes is simple to learn, and the tactics are straightforward (run away unless you know you can win easily).
No, it's the way the game behaves. The larger cave networks are teeming with monsters. It makes sense to send in your fighters through the door first. On the other side, your puny magic user/thief gets beaten to death, as the fighters migrate to the rear for no reason.
When a character 'dies', they mysteriously reappear at the main body of refugees, ready to be healed and sent into the fray. How illogical.
These are the tip of the iceberg. The game has no sense of humour at all, yet I cannot take it seriously. It looks great, plays all right, but keeps tripping you up with its bizarre logic. No long-term fun at all.