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atari adventure
Written by  :  Vashna (19)
Written on  :  Oct 04, 2007
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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A game to rival Eye of the Beholder

The Good

Black Crypt was the debut game of software developer Raven. A group of AD&D players who set out to make a dungeon style computer game similar to Eye of the Beholder. The game is a Dungeon Master type of game with a first person view, walking one square at a time and with real time battles. A lot of work went into making this game as it is equally as good as Eye of the Beholder 1 & 2. Not only graphics and sounds, but the quests are least as good, in some regards even better. This was back in '92 when the Amiga ruled the computer gaming world and it was released on that platform only.

The packaging is top notch with a very nice and evocative cover of a giant demon emerging from the Black Crypt. Unlike the earlier dungeon games where you had to buy a hint book if you got stuck, here all the maps are contained in the manual. This could be a bad thing too since it was tempting to cheat by looking at them. The computer press in general gave it high scores and some rave reviews. I remember one reviewer joked that you should buy two copies of the game, one to frame on the wall and the other to play.

The background story to Black Crypt is that a powerful cleric named Estoroth Paingiver was banished from the land called Astera. He afterwards returned with an army consisting of demons and undead but was banished yet again, this time magically sealed in the Black Crypt. Now, twenty-two years later it seems like he is attempting to unseal the crypt in order to return to get revenge on those who banished him. Four heroes must now enter the dungeon in order to find four artifacts which can be used to seal him for good. In fact, these artifacts are powerful magical weapons which can be used as equipment in the game when found.

The game starts with some upbeat intro music to the title screen which sets the mood. Similar to EoB you begin with creating four characters who in this game are of four different classes. Here they are called in order: Fighter, cleric, magic user and druid. They start the game with some basic equipment like a warhammer for the fighter and a wand for the druid. Funny why they couldn't get some more powerful stuff from their benefactors to begin with for such a dangerous mission to save the land. Obviously then the game would be too easy. Like EoB the characters have to eat, so they also begin with some food such as meat and cheese. New to this game is that they also have to drink, so it is equally important to always have their water flasks full. These can be replenished from wells located at different points. A convenient thing is that the inventory has predesignated spaces for different containers. One for a chest, a box, a backpack and a bag. Clicking on each one of these opens up their separate inventory, with the chest able to carry the most, the box the second most etc.

Three of the character classes can cast spells. The spells in turn have different levels and needs to be memorized in order to be cast. An interesting detail is that in earlier dungeon style games you had to draw a map of the tunnels on paper. Here there is a spell that the magic user has called 'wizard sight', which when cast automatically map it out for you. This is convenient of course, but at the same time takes away some of the fun of having to map it out yourself, unless you wanna do so.

Black Crypt uses a graphics mode on the Amiga which allows sixty four colours compared to the usual thirty two, albeit the second half of them using the same colours as the first thirty two, only at half their brightness. This makes for some nice looking graphics, like that of the upper starting levels. The walls there have a nice sand colour and the doors have some kind of demon-like heads decorating the fronts of them, which is all very elegant. Along the tunnels there are lots of buttons and levers to pull, which in turn opens a wall or moves a pillar somewhere, heard in the distance as a rumbling noise. There is a lot of figuring out which pillar or wall moves when a certain lever is pulled, but also a lot of interesting problems to be solved, like figuring out how to battle some invisible creatures. Decorating the walls are plaques which contains hints and riddles. Sometimes you have to actually type in an answer to some riddle using the keyboard in order to solve it. And as you progress further down, the interior of the crypt change with different looking walls and new and more dangerous monsters. There is even a whole underwater level inhabited by mermen. To enter it you have to wear a magical helmet allowing you to breath underwater. This is a very interesting idea and very different from other similar games. All in all there are 28 levels to go through, with sizes varying from large areas with more complex quests to smaller ones. The goal of the game is to locate the four artifacts and reach the last level where Estoroth himself is lying in the crypt.

The Bad

One level had some design which was not to my liking.

The Bottom Line

The game still holds up very well if you like older games from the early nineties and is very enjoyable to play. If you like the Eye of the Beholder games then you should definately take a look at Black Crypt.

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