Title Eye of the Beholder Game Type RPG Players 1 HD Installable Yes Compatibility 020 + (?) Submission Cathy Macdonald Profiled Reviewer Review Piergeiron, Chief Lord of Waterdeep, receives a troubled letter, from Khelben of the Council, concerning a growing evil. Its source is unknown to Khelben, but he has reason to suspect that it emanates from the elusive Xanathar and below the city itself - out of sight of the Lords and the Watch. You are given a Commission to investigate the threat. The quest is to find out what lurks beneath Waterdeep - or so you are led to believe by the Council! On arriving at the sewer entrance, you realise that you have, in fact, been duped. It's someone's ploy to get rid of you, for their own sinister designs. The real objective, therefore, is to deal with what is behind the Council's evil inclinations, thus aiding the side of Good - then get out of there! The definitive computerised version of TSR's "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", this is more than simply a "Dungeon Master" clone. In my opinion it appears superior, both in graphic quality and depth of gameplay. Nonetheless, the sequels of both games do look very similar - but more on that when I've, eventually, finished playing both of them! The intro animations are very nice for the time of release. (It's quite amusing to skip the animation where they're going up to the steps - as the last frames speed up, watch their wee legs go! Sorry, I digress). The in-game graphics, sound and interface are mostly well done, but some in-play access to various panels can get a bit fraught, especially during real time combat, when trying to access spells or change weapons/positions. A bit too much clicking going on for my liking, and sprites can freeze when things get frantic. The front layout is nice though, and the character generation panels (available only at the start) are well thought out. There are male and female of several "race" mixtures, faces, attributes and combinations to choose from. These are all clearly explained in the manual, so no excuses for poor judgement! The animated characters you encounter (good and bad) are generally well drawn and imaginative, but with the typical "static" animation held on to by subsequent RPG designers, like Silmarils (who could have done more). You are whoever you have chosen to be, with up to 3 compatriots, through the character generator. The game is viewed in first-person perspective; yourself and your fellows are only seen in the face panels, from where everything is accessed. Trouble, as ever, is seen coming at you - when it's not sneaking up behind you! You start out, with very little, outside the gate to Waterdeep sewers, accompanied by the devious Council members who subsequently seal you in - yep, it's a trap alright! No way but down now. Thankfully, there are some useful items in the immediate vicinity, and the trouble you meet through the first, lever- controlled, gate is easily dealt with. Later, there are Runes to read, but if you haven't got a Gnome, tough cookie! Continue wandering about, solving "puzzles", investigating things and fighting things, in usual D&D fashion, to reach the ladder down to Level 2. This is where you find that Level 1 was really a doddle! There is a big jump in the difficulty level already. This game needs a lot of strategic saving if you are to survive. Here we hit the big downside to this game - the single save slot. You can get round this with several copies of Disk2 if you're floppy-based (i.e. still in Amigan Dark Ages!) or renaming and storing the #?.sav on hard-drive. But it's a bit of a pain. On the programming side, apart from the above-mentioned sprite-freeze, it is completely stable even with AGA which is more than can be said for the, otherwise superb, "Ishar" (AGA) series. Be aware, not all creatures pose a threat, so some are to be listened to rather than butchered; there are 1 or 2 dwarves to be rescued and even a couple of otherwise dubious characters have something to say. So, how was it to play? This game has been criticised by others for being totally linear. Well, there are one or two parts where you can just about get through on an alternative, but, on the whole, it is a very linear game - miss a particular key/item/message, and you can be thwarted for ages before realising it. Having said that, you don't have to find every part of every level to complete the game - which can save a lot of time, as well as trouble. The repetition of certain types of "traps", like spinners/invisible teleports, verges on becoming more irritating than challenging; one feels like just getting on with it when the game is getting difficult enough without them! And you really need an eagle eye as some secret buttons are so tiny, or disguised, that they are easily overlooked. By the time you get to the last level and meet the dreaded Eye of the Beholder, apparent mouthpiece of Xanathar himself, you have to be at top level experience to defeat him - even with the aid of a certain wand. The latter is obtained via one of the sub-quests involving the very helpful (if you're nice to them) dwarves. My team survived to this point as only 7th level characters and still had to build up more experience to defeat the Beholder and find the way out. A challenging game. Overall? Not at the top of my own list to try again in a hurry, as there are other games I enjoyed more. This is not a criticsm of the game, I just prefer the more outdoor, graphical RPGs myself. It may be interesting, though, to try later with various team combinations. Despite being lulled into a false sense of security by the ease of level 1, it's not an easy game. But if you're into book-based AD&D, this'll be right up your street - a real treat for indoor dungeon-lovers!