Rasputin is one of the first titles to be released in Firebird's new Hot range, and certainly bodes well for future releases on the label.
Mind you, I'm inclined to give a slap on the wrists to whoever wrote the incomprehensible waffle that attempts to pass itself off as instructions; not only is it useless in explaining anything about the game, it's also very badly written. That, however, is my only criticism of Rasputin as in all other respects it's a thoroughly classy game.
Rasputin is a cosmic icon intent on wreaking havoc on the universe, but who relies on the sacred Jewel of the Seven Planets for his powers. Your task is to venture into the netherworld, armed only with your magic sword and shield, and to destroy the Jewel. Naturally this isn't going to be easy and as you set out on your quest you'll be set upon by strange netherworldly creatures, and be faced with a number of tasks that have to be completed before you can reach the Jewel. The main task being to neutralise the eight speels that stand between you and the jewel.
The netherworld is based around a rather tasteful courtyard with exits leading off into various dimensions. The courtyard is patrolled by what seem to be the souls of dead warriors who will be reanimated and seek you out if you hang around too long. Once you enter the various dimensions, you are faced with Knightlore-style obstacles, presented in highly detailed 3D graphics. But rather than simply being rooms, these dimensions float above the clouds and any wrong moves will send you tumbling down to the clouds below.
Assuming that you manage not to drop over the edge, the task that faces you in each dimension is to locate the stones that carry the mark of Rasputin and step on them in order to absorb their magical powers. To add to your problems, each dimension is occupied by a variety of deadly creatures just waiting to sap your life force; there are mystical spheres which will home-in on you if they touch you just once, cyclopean creatures and a sort of ectoplasmic frog, all wandering round and standing between you and your goal. Getting to Rasputin's stones requires a combination of arcade reflexes and strategic planning that could provide a challenge for weeks or even months.
Your troubles don't end there though, for when you've stepped on all the stones in a particular dimension Rasputin will unleash another monster which will probably zap you pretty quickly. But, if you do manage to kill it, the creature will leave behnd a run that will counteract one of the eight spells. To add yet another complication, the dimensions and runes are 'colour coded' and if the dimension you are in doesn't match the colour of the runes, you may not be protected when you attempt to neutralise the eight spells.
Yes, it is as complicated as it sounds, and I must admit that, partly due to the gibberish in the instructions, my initial reaction to Rasputin was 'nice graphics, but where's the game?' simply because I couldn't work out what on earth it was all about. Fortunately I persevered and gradually the game started to reveal itself. In the end, Rasputin turned out to be one of those games that actually becomes more challenging and addictive the longer you play it, as all it intricate twists become clear.