The Micro User1st October 1988
Published in The Micro User 6.08
Escape from space
This disc-based text adventure was originally available for the BBC Micro and has now been re-written for the Archimedes with some graphic screens added. Robico does a thorough packaging job but I wonder if that has pushed the price up unnecessarily. Apart from the disc itself, a detailed booklet is supplied and a hint sheet, notepad and Robico pen - perhaps that should have been a pencil and rubber.
Your objective in the first instance is to get off an interplanetary space hopper which is in imminent danger of crashing. But having arrived safely on the semi-derelict planet your problems have only just started - your real adventure is the escape from Enthar Seven. The game is massive, boasting 80 objects, all of which are of value, and 450 locations - one is described, tongue in cheek, as giving you the feeling that it is only there to make up the number.
There is no way you are going to complete this adventure without drawing a map. Be warned too, this is not for those with either a short temper or low concentration span.
You can save and re-load your position to any disc at any time with a filename of your own choice. The command structure also allows you to issue many system instructions by prefixing them with @.
Generally I prefer adventures to start very easily and become progressively harder as the game develops. Unfortunately the very first puzzle requires a certain amount of lateral thinking. If you don't get it immediately you are likely to waste several frustrating hours.
But once on the move, the game becomes easier to get to grips with. Well for a while anyway. Finding directions embedded in the text can be a bit difficult sometimes if you don't read it properly though this does encourage you to take your time and enjoy the scenery.
The graphic addition is nice especially as some pictures are at the top of the screen and others at the side. However, apart from adding a little atmosphere there are no additional clues and have the feel of being tacked on to take advantage of the Archimedes' graphics.
The 80 column text builds quite a respectable atmosphere and is a good read - a feature sadly lacking in many adventures. After playing the game for a while you really do get the feeling that almost everyone has gone somewhere else and you start to mentally look over your shoulder.
Puzzles are detailed and fairly linear - it would have been nice if the game was structured so that more of the threads could be followed independently. Later you can do this to some extent - when bogged down in one area you could continue with some other aspect and return later. At this point you find out why it's called Enthar Seven.
I'm far from completing the game but it is pleasing to see fair puzzles and believable solutions. Some of the clues are rather oblique but that really adds to the fun. As usual you need to put yourself in the right frame of mind. One bonus point must go for the good sense of humour running through the game - try typing SCORE and see what happens.
One indicator of the re-write status is the parser - though it can handle multi-statement input, it is not at ease with it and can easily be confused. Try PICK UP THE HELMET which will get this object for you and then tell you that you can't do it. I did contrive that example but this sort of thing is a nuisance. To sum up, a good logical adventure that should keep you busy for many hours - despite the parser.