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

aka: Mech i Magija
Moby ID: 1619
Apple II Specs

Description official description

A party of adventurers in what appears to be a medieval fantasy world called Varn is looking for an entrance to the highly coveted Inner Sanctum. Before long the heroes realize that one of the four kings that rule the countries of Varn is in fact an impostor, a creature from outer space. Their task is to find the real king and ultimately stop the mysterious space traveler, revealing the truth about the world's origin in the process.

The Secret of the Inner Sanctum is a role-playing game and the first installment in the Might and Magic series. Core gameplay concept is similar to that of Wizardry games, though the game does not focus solely on dungeon crawling and features overworld areas and towns that can be physically navigated. In this way the game resembles The Bard's Tale, though it has a significantly larger playing environment with several towns. The entire game is viewed from first-person perspective, and the game environment consists of maze-like passages made with pseudo-3D graphics.

In the beginning of the game, the player creates a party of six adventurers. There are six classes to choose from: knight, robber, sorcerer, cleric, paladin, and archer. Each character has six main attributes: might, endurance, accuracy, personality, intelligence, and luck, with each class requires proficiency in a specific attribute for effective functioning. There are also five races to choose from: humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and half-orcs.

As in most RPGs, the gameplay revolves around exploring the game world and leveling up to be able to proceed to the story-advancing challenges. The party starts in a particularly weak state, equipped with only clubs and having no money. The player is free to explore most of the game's locations in any order, and there are few hints as to what needs to be done to advance the plot. Turn-based battles against randomly appearing enemies typically take place against a group of monsters more or less equal in size to the player-controlled party, but enemy reinforcements can appear once their comrades have been slain. It is also possible to try and bribe enemies or surrender to them before entering combat.

The game has no auto-mapping feature of any kind and it is only possible to save the player's progress at inns located in towns.

The TurboGrafx CD version of this game has significant differences.


  • Меч и Магия - Russian spelling
  • 魔法門 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Apple II version)

8 People (7 developers, 1 thanks)

Designed and Created by
Art Director
Book Illustrations
Map Illustration
Technical Writing
Computer Graphics
Special thanks to
  • our playtesters and everyone else who made this project possible.



Average score: 68% (based on 14 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 69 ratings with 4 reviews)

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.

DOS · by Salim Farhat (69) · 2008

Good but why bother.....

The Good
The vast selection of items, monsters, spells and combat mechanics.

The Bad
The storyline is pretty bad, actually there is no storyline. Also the game is simply way too difficult and time-consuming.

The Bottom Line
A vast world to explore with lots of weapons, equipment, magic items, spells and monsters to fight make this a somewhat enjoyable game, but finishing the game is a different matter. The game and storyline (if you can call it that) is very hard to figure out and finish, you will literally walk around not knowing what to do. You will spend at least 40-60 hours leveling up your party and only then will you actually begin your main quest to discover the Inner Sanctum. Hmmm…this doesn't sound like too much fun. You will need incredible patience for this one.

DOS · by cimerians (49) · 2002

Great game design -- highly difficult, but extremely rewarding

The Good
As about every other reviewer noted, Might and Magic I is an extremely challenging game. From the beginning right to the very end, there is a real chance of your party being wiped out at each and every step. This may not sound so hot to the casual gamer, and indeed this game is not meant for casual gaming -- you have to really dig into it. But once you do (and you have survived the insanely hard beginning), you'll realize how well this game is designed.

Leveling up really MEANS something here -- your party gets stronger, but it does so slowly, and your characters do not evolve into some kind of fantasy superheroes capable of slaying a handful of dragons with a single stroke. Loot is always something to carefully check out and never something you'll routinely just cust a Detect Magic on and let it lie -- gold is sparse and keeps being valuable throughout the game, so at least pick it up to sell it (but as the backpack sizes are very limited, you'll have to choose carefully).

The monsters and their powers are very varied, and you'll have to study them and prepare for combat as best you can. And even at the end of the game, you'll meet monsters that you should run away from.

The game is highly non-linear, so you'll have can (and have to) freely explore the vast world on your own. However, I found the difficulty levels of the areas well balanced, so that you'll quickly steer into the right (= not too difficult!) direction.

The user interface is easy to learn and effective to use after a few minutes, and even the graphics are nice -- not really colorful or opulent in any way, but the monsters are nicely pixeled, and the graphics never distract from the actual game play -- indeed, the game has, IMO, more atmosphere than MM2 or Bard's Tale due to the nearly abstract feel of the graphics.

The Bad
The only thing that comes to my mind is the beginning. It's INSANELY hard. Even after finding a good grinding place, it will take you hours to get your characters to level 2, allowing you to venture a bit further than just a few steps from the inn. It would be nice if Mr. Van Carneghem would provide the starting party some more gold to get some decent equipment instead of a few clubs and daggers.

The Bottom Line
Might and Magic 1 is definitely not something for beginners or for casual gamers. In the end, it's -- like any other good RPG -- a complex resource management game: You'll have to think and keep thinking about what to carry, and what to use when, and what to sell and buy, and how to improve your party.

It is highly difficult, but this means it provides a challenging experience for many, many hours -- it took me at least a hundred gaming hours to win this game, and even this with some help from walkthroughs. However, I never felt bored once -- once you get into it, it keeps staying a challenging, but highly rewarding experience.

I can heartily recommend this game to all those looking for a challenging early RPG. It could be seen as a great mix of Bard's Tale and Wizardry, taking the best elements of both and evading their weaknesses.

DOS · by General Error (4320) · 2015

[ View all 4 player reviews ]



  • Computer Gaming World
    • August 1988 (Issue #50) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #23 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list

Information also contributed by PCGamer77

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Old man gamer.

Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Sharp X68000, FM-7, MSX, PC-88, Apple II added by Terok Nor. Sharp X1, PC-98 added by Unicorn Lynx. Macintosh added by Garcia. NES added by Billoute.

Additional contributors: Adam Baratz, Unicorn Lynx, Bullyt, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger, ZeTomes.

Game added June 17th, 2000. Last modified October 3rd, 2023.