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Atari STComputer and Video Games (CVG)
With the game comes a 36-page manual containing full instructions, and a novella. I can usually take or leave a novella. So often they consist of so much contrived drivel to lend a degree of credibility to the game plot. But The Sign of the Orc is really amusing, and is a good read in its own right. It really is useful, too, for the game starts where the story ends, and so you feel you know many of the characters when you start playing. Here is an adventure that is like nothing you've ever played before.
In Knight Orc I'm most impressed by Rainbird's masterly grasp of what even the nonadventurer wants. One of the best features is the ability to examine almost everything within reach; examining the various sorts of trees is an experience in itself! The only problem is the speed with which you can die; if you happen to fall into a fight, then hours of careful adventuring can be gone in a flash. Still, in a game of this complexity, these are the things you have to look out for. Knight Orc is an atmospheric, intriguing, absorbing (time-consuming) and thoroughly worthwhile adventure. Together with the excellent novella, Level 9's achievement more than justifies the high price.
Atari STACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment)
Knight Orc is an important release for Level 9. There is no doubt that it takes time to get used to, and there is a strong lack of direction in the game's early stages. Most committed players will not rest until they have cracked it, but how many stick it out to the end without recourse to hint sheet or psychiatric help is another matter.
Gone are the rather rudimentary and meaningless ‘representations’ replaced by ‘digitised’ pictures. Amiga owners get the best of the deal here, for there is more colour per picture on that machine than the others – including the Atari ST.
But it is the mode of play that has changed most dramatically. No longer do you have to make a map, and slavishly follow it move by move to return to a place you have visited earlier. No longer do you have to remember where you dropped an object that you may need later. All that is required is that you know which object you need, or which location you want to reach. If that makes playing Knight Orc sound dead simple, then forget it! To offset the ease of operation, the adventure is endowed with more than its fair share of independent characters, with minds of their own, who get in your way, grabbing the very item you are looking for, and attack you with relentless determination.
Atari STHappy Computer
Schade um die wirklich tolle Handlung, denn bei Knight Orc wimmelt es nur so von technischen Unzulänglichkeiten. Brilliant gelöst wurde die Sache mit den über 70 verschiedenen Personen, die unterschiedliche Verhaltensweisen zeigen und denen man Befehle erteilen kann. Doch hier traten schon die ersten Haken auf. Frage ich eine Person nach einem Gegenstand, dann erhalte ich immer exakt denselben Text, den ich auch mit "Exanime Gegenstand" bekommen hätte. Außerdem erschien mit der Parser überqualifiziert. Er versteht zwar die tollsten Kommandos, doch wenn ich ganz einfache, logische Sätze eingebe, muß er recht oft passen. Von den digitalisierten Bildern halte ich auch nicht viel, denn die sehen teilweise sogar recht scheußlich aus. Aber trotzdem: Handlung und Puzzles sind toll, und deswegen bekommt Knight Orc noch eine ordentliche Bewertung von mir.
Atari STASM (Aktueller Software Markt)
Fazit: Ein solides konventionelles Adventure im Stil von PAWN und GUILD OF THIEVES.
While Knight Orc falls short of becoming a classic on the merits of pure art through this medium (unlike, say, "Sentinel" or "The Space Under The Window") it nonetheless does hold up eleven years later due to the strength of its atmosphere, gameplay and sheer indifference it shows to the player.