Here's another of those American games that promise great things by: a) coming from the same country as Infocom and b) coming on disk. I guess this is the general thinking behind marketing these sort of games in the UK at inflated prices, but frankly after playing games like Ulysses and (even worse) Ripper, I think this general thinking needs a bit of a revision.
However, the good news is that Lucifer's Realm is actually quite novel, though you shouldn't expect anything on the stunning side except for some of the graphics. The plot is hilarious: you find yourself in hospital and all of a sudden the Doc says to the Nurse 'He's going to die very soon.' Sure enough, next moment you're knocking on the Pearly Gates and having judgement passed upon you...
I don't have to tell you (do I?) that all those vile deeds you swept under the carpet are immediately tipped into the balance, and you find yourself with a one way ticket to Down Under - a fiery pit that makes an Australian bar just before closing seem like a deserted Caribbean beach. All you can hear are the screams of lost souls - presumably crying out for water and Band-Aid - and all you can see are flames, flames, and more flames! Try getting out of *that* with only two-word input!
The program kicks off with some rather novel digitised pictures of the programmers, giving the whole affair something of a movie atmosphere. Once you find yourself in Hell, you have to stay on the hop in a bid to escape from the first location, but after that moving around gets fairly easy. Once you've cracked the first two puzzles, the full absurdity of the ploy hits you: Adolf Hitler has got together an army and is trying to overthrow sweet, soft-centred ol' Satan.
Lucifer then offers anyone who can present him with conclusive proof of Mr Hitler's intentions, a safe passage back upstairs to Paradise, and since no-one else seems interested, it's up to you to get your elbows dirty and your eyebrows singed.
The display is rather unusual and slightly limiting - the graphics occupy most of the screen except for a small text window at the bottom of the display that shows the computer's last response. Hitting any key clears the graphics and shows you a text-screen with details of your inventory, what you can see, and an input line. You enter your (short) command, hit RETURN, and the graphics flip back on with the response below.
Sadly the humour of the plot and the excellence of some of the graphics do not deter from the rather basic nature of the program. The vocabulary is extremely limited and the inputs allowed are similarly restricted. Verb/noun is as far as you can go - and sometimes you don't even get that far! The responses are also short and barely to the point - "Try something else', says the computer in response to just about everything it either doesn't understand or doesn't consider appropriate. Not very helpful.
The location descriptions are also extremely short, one-sentence affairs, but then I guess you're meant to be looking at the graphics, not reading the text.
Despite these shortcomings, however, the Wiz had quite a few laughs over this program. If you're not being vapourised by Adolph Eichmann, you're nattering away to John Wilkes Booth (who assassinated Lincoln), or flushing yourself down Stygian drains. This game isn't anywhere near Infocom standard (or Activision, or even Level 9), but it stays on my shelf until I've got that Nazi swine up to the shoulders in lava.