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Might and Magic: Book One - Secret of the Inner Sanctum (DOS)

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Written by  :  Terry Callahan (67)
Written on  :  Jan 29, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Summary

Insanely difficult, but good

The Good

Well, what's there to like about this game? Quite a bit actually, and let me begin.

First, the immense scope of the game. Back in 1986 there were titles like King's Quest 3 and Space Quest 1, along with the Ultima IV a year earlier, and though those games were pretty good, none of them matched the scope of the game and it's sheer size... a quick look at all the grids put together, along with the maps of the dungeons and towns and what could and could not be accomplished and when would definitely set the tone for the later games in the series, but yet for some reason, they don't seem to have as much of that 'epic adventure' to it. In this case, the technology limitations might actually help since you'll need to really stay focused on your quests and where you're going otherwise you'll veer off course and will waste too much time.

Secondly was the interesting twists to the game plot and, in fact, the game world and general overaching plot. Seriously, how many fantasy games do you mix in pure science fiction with a world of goblins and wizards and sword slashing knights? To top it all, one thing which boggled my mind is the fact that the world of VARN, which is an acronym standing for Vehicular Astropod Research Nacelle... and that basically means that it isn't a planet at all, but a giant research vessal going through the cosmos just like that. Just thinking about that boggles my mind, and this part would be the best of the game, and perhaps of the series as a whole.

The Bad

A lot of things that are good about this game can actually be annoying in some ways. For one thing, the game is not easy. I'm not talking about 'this is gonna need some extra hours' type. No. What I'm talking about is that this game is something you dedicate yourself to, perhaps for months, or even a year or so (assuming you use no help from the old, but still functioning websites on the internet) to complete successfully.

When I said the scope of the game is huge, I was serious, and while the freedom this provides is great, it also means that's all too easy to get lost. There's no auto-mapping feature in the game meaning that you will have to hand-draw everything as you move along, and taking into consideration that the in-game perspective has absolutely no indication of any objects you might run into (if you run into a place where a town is supposed to be, you see nothing, but instead just get a message), what this means is, unless you know all the maps by heart, which is no easy task, you'll be moving along the game with your eyes darting back and forth from the map you've drawn constantly. This seriously detracts from the game play and makes it less enjoyable.

And there are no less than twenty overland grids (just the overland... there are also over 35 maps of towns, caves, and castles out there) meaning that you'll be spending a LOT of time mapping out the places least you get lost (and it's not easy to find your way back, even with a map at times), plus finding quest-givers is no easy... and to make matters more difficult, you can only be on one quest at any given time. This problem becomes solvable later on after you've gotten some spells capable of removing your current quest, but the fact still remains that having only one quest at a time is a tad annoying.

The other issue the difficulty of the battles, and most especially the beginning of the game. The monsters are way too strong and your starting party has only a bunch of clubs and no money or gems and barely enough food for a few rest periods. Unless you're patient enough to save constantly and hope to run into monsters that you're capable of defeating at the beginning, you're going to be frustrated easily and you will give up.

Also, for the first time players, there's no sense of direction at all in the game, the person who gives you the quest which starts off the main plot seems fairly innocent and non-descript. While many games suffer from this defect, Might and Magic, is, unfortunately, extremely unforgiving in that regard.

The Bottom Line

As I mentioned, this game is for dedicated players and not for the casual gamer. You wanna play a nice classic game that you can finish relatively quickly and in a linear fashion, then you're gonna have to go elsewhere for that.

But if you've got the patience, dedication, and drive to finish a massive game (which I believe would be among the hardest of all in the M&M series) then you might have a shot at this one. It's insanely difficult, with the mapping work needed taking a great deal of time, mastering a lot of dangerous monsters, an d getting a party up to scale and not running into the countless pitfalls that await... and finally, the possibility that you might need to start over and over again with different character combinations and alignment to see what different results you might get.

The back of the game box mentions 'After you've played Might and Magic a few hundred times, you'll know all of this... but you might not know the secret'. There's a lot of truth in that quote, so consider yourself warned you enter the world of Might and Magic.