Hey, Hey, Skara Brae, what a cool game you have to play!
This game was an innovative game in every aspect. It introduced concepts that would not be implemented in computer role-playing games for years, including the idea of being able to improve a character's basic statistics with each level gained. The story, while basic, was strong, with the characters questing to defeat a mad god. The dungeon crawls were filled with traps and mazes, and each had its own distinct layout. The turn-based combat was full of options, and the variety of monsters was immense. The variety of character classes and races to choose from was staggering, especially for a game of its time, and the ability for spell-casters to change classes was quite a welcome feature. In addition, the choice of spells was large, and gave a flavor to the game not felt for almost a decade. Finally, the hint text file that came with the program was an example of what every single hint file should strive to be. It gave hints to the game about what was needed, without being specific as to the location of these essential ingredients, and did this in a very entertaining story of the last group of adventurers to attempt to defeat the mad god.
The lack of an auto-map feature was crippling to this game, as the dungeons were all arranged in a similar format, yet were unique enough to not be able to use one standard map. True, none of the games of the time had an automap feature (Ultima, Wizardry), but since the ascii predecessors of these games, like Rogue, had a map layout, it couldn't have been too difficult to implement, and would have saved hours of frustration, especially when coupled with the teleportation traps in the later dungeons.
The Bottom Line
This is the very definition of what a role-playing game should be. It had a strong story, a wide range of characters, and a variety of treasures and monsters. This game outshone all of its contemporaries, and is far better than many rpgs released today. For the serious gamer, it is essential to find a copy of this and play it to the conclusion; this is where true computer rpgs began. Also, this is a required play for anyone designing a rpg of any sort, because of the simple elegance it possesses in its character creation, development, and combat design.