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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.


Might and Magic: Book One - Secret of the Inner Sanctum PC-98 Oh wow, finally graphics! City gate! Joy!
Might and Magic: Book One - Secret of the Inner Sanctum DOS Dammit! Where's my torch?
Might and Magic: Book One - Secret of the Inner Sanctum PC-98 Character stats
Might and Magic: Book One - Secret of the Inner Sanctum DOS A character's stat screen

Promo Images

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Alternate Titles

  • "魔法門" -- Chinese spelling (traditional)
  • "Меч и Магия" -- Russian spelling
  • "Mech i Magija" -- Russian title

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User Reviews

Great game design -- highly difficult, but extremely rewarding DOS General Error (4364)
Insanely difficult, but good DOS Terry Callahan (63)
An excellent and often forgotten start to this long running series. DOS woods01 (163)
Good but why bother..... DOS cimerians (51)

Critic Reviews

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) DOS May, 1988 825 out of 1000 82
GamePro (US) NES May, 1992 4 out of 5 80
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) Commodore 64 Jul, 1988 9.6 out of 12 80
Power Play Commodore 64 Jul, 1988 6 out of 10 60
PC Games (Germany) DOS Feb, 1993 60 out of 100 60
Happy Computer Commodore 64 Jun, 1988 60 out of 100 60
Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) NES May, 1992 21 out of 40 52
The DOS Spirit DOS Dec 04, 2007 3 out of 6 50 NES Oct, 2012 C- 42
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Apple II Apr, 1987 Unscored Unscored


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  • 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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