When a new disc from Robico landed on my doormat I was eager to see what Robert O'Leary had managed to produce to follow his magnificent adventure Assassin. I haven't played all the adventures written for the Beeb though I have seen most of the better-known ones and I doubt that a better game has been written than Enthar Seven.
The game, which comes on one 80 track or two 40 track discs, is also almost certainly the biggest adventure ever written for the machine. O'Leary has used a combination of disc access and text compression to produce a game of staggering, main-frame proportions - over 450 locations and 1200 messages.
The descriptions and messages are so long that they are presented in paging mode to stop them scrolling off the screen! The disc is accessed after every command, which makes the program's response a little slow, but this is a price well worth paying in my view.
The game has a science fiction setting in which you find yourself stranded on the planet Enthar Seven. The ultimate object is to escape from the planet, but you must first explore it fully. After an initial phase of problem-solving in the spaceship and landing base you find a teleport room from which you may visit each of the planet's seven sectors. This is a very clever construction which makes the huge size of the game manageable. You don't know which order to visit the sectors in, but if you get stuck you can usually teleport back to base, drop any goodies you have found and explore a new sector. If you find something which you think could solve a puzzle in another sector it doesn't take too long to teleport yourself back and try it out.
As in O'Leary's earlier games the quality of the text is extremely high, and the puzzles very satisfying - varied and challenging, but fair and logical. These are the sort of games that you really want to play right to the end and should be able to do so given reasonable time and a bit of help from Robico's clue service. At the time of review, I have managed to play through about half of the game but I have no intention of giving up until it is finished. It's like a novel which really grips your imagination - you know you'll be disappointed to finish it, but you can't stop reading.
Enthar Seven is the equivalent of one of those 1000 page epics that sustains your enjoyment for much longer than usual. If you own a disc drive and like adventure games, then don't hesitate to buy Enthar Seven - you won't regret it.