Written by  :  Matt Styles (5)
Written on  :  Jul 21, 2005
Platform  :  Atari ST
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Home of Multi-Player

The Good

Hmm, seems like a pretty big claim doesn't it? Well it certainly was one of the first multi-player dungeon crawls and where it differs from other multi-player games (even those of today) was that the 2 players had to play co-operatively. It was possible to kill the other player, in fact some of the spells made it quite a frequent occurrence, but if you killed the other player and they stayed killed then you could only get so far in the game.

I've made it sound like it was only a multi-player game and of course it had a single player game. In fact, I only ever played it as a single player, often with other people in the room watching and helping.

What was it like? Well, it's contemporaries were Dungeon Master and Eye Of The Beholder but, it differs from those in the same way they differ from each other. The graphics were small, under-stated yet well designed. The control system was perfect, employing the Dungeon Master style 3rd-hand to 'reach' into the pseudo-3D world for interaction. The sound was, admittedly, pretty bad. However, the gameplay...ah, well thats what makes it stand out.

The level construction was paramount for this game and it had to be. There's only so much time and effort that can be poured into a game and the ingredients for this game have definitely been ejected into a large urn labeled 'How it Plays!'. For a start, this game was meant for the masses, so, while it was an RPG it shied away from heavy statistics, hid the dice rolling in the CPU and negated the need to draw accurate maps.

The linear approach to level flow is shunned in most modern games but Bloodwych channeled you through levels and areas by giving you only a few immediate goals to accomplish at a time. For example, the way ahead would be barred by a locked door but the key for this locked door would not be placed 300 footsteps away where you'd forget what the key was for when you got there. The concept sounds limiting but the reality is compelling - it plays like reading a good book. Sid Meier always tried to create 'No decent point to turn off the game' and that is what Bloodwych also created. It was a case of, 'ah, I finished this little bit but now there is this place that I need to go to', almost the perfect interaction of a series of majestic set pieces.

The whole aura of the game spilled sophistication that is seldom matched even today. The limited graphics need only imagination to transform and this can be surprisingly liberating, after all, if you've created the creature or scenario then aren't you really there?

The Bad

Well, yes, the sound was bad. I guess it served its purpose and, like the 'functional' graphics, it allowed your imagination to fill in the gaps. This 'space' in games (as in life I suppose) is all too rare nowadays.

The Bottom Line

An RPG dungeon crawl for the masses. Sophisticated and compelling although perhaps lost on those who haven't grown up with it.