The trouble with being a reviewer is that you have to give opinions about everything. That's not normally a problem, but what happens when you can't make your mind up, as I can't with Zenobi's latest game, The Pendant Of Logryn? It certainly got off to a great start, being available on +3 disk, meaning quick and easy loading and quick and easy saving of games. Well done, Zenobi, for supporting those with disk drives... and I've more exciting news of Zenobi disks next month.
Meanwhile, who is Logryn? And why's his pendant so important? Well, Logryn's the King, that's who, and his pendant's important 'cos he's lost it, that's why. It was given to him on the grand occasion of his 110th birthday... by his grandmother! And granny's about to take a trip to visit Logryn, which is why you, Kormin, an 'umble elf, are also about to take a trip. And why? Don't all shout at once - to find the pendant! Logryn kindly hands you a sword and two gold pieces, pats you on the head (which is better than patting you on the bottom, you must admit), and sends you off into the land of the humans.
Pendant is PAWS'd by one Jamie Murphy, a new name to me, but it's a name to watch out for as the game's certainly well done from a programming and presentation point of view. The graphics are simple but attractive, and quick to appear. You can switch them off if you like, or have them permanently on, or have them only appear the first time you visit a location. There are also five different presentation options, called up by typing in MODE 0-4, and these mainly affect whether location text or responses stay on the screen or scroll off. On top of that there's the usual range of PAWS features, like RAMSAVE, use of ALL commands, speech to characters and complex inputs. A nice idea is that many of the objects you find, or creatures you encounter, are shown on the screen if you decide to have a closer look at them. EXAMINE SWORD and up pops the piccie with the info underneath - "A well-balanced weapon but not very sharp". Sounds like a sword-sharpening job will be called for at some stage. I also love the graphic of the ogre that comes up, when you encounter this creature. I don't much care for the ogre, as the nasty thing won't let me past, but I like its picture.
All this sounds hunky-dory, doesn't it? So why am I undecided about the game? It's just that... well... it's a bit dull, that's all. Now I like making maps as much as the next adventurer, but this game has far too many meaningless locations. You'll know the type of thing if you've played Level 9's Knight Orc - "You are on a rough road", "You are on a dusty road", "You are on a rough and dusty road" and so on. My elf self jumped for joy about every 20 minutes or so when I actually found another character, an object or something to do.
Pendant is definitely a game to map on the back of a roll of spare wallpaper -- even then you'll probably need the wallpaper paste before you've finished. You begin by exploring the forest, and note one or two things to come back to later - an arrow stuck in a tree out of reach and an immense tree whose trunk proves impossible to climb. In another direction is the city, with the inevitable Magick Shoppe and Supplies Shoppe, whose owner is fast asleep allowing you to pick up the equally inevitable lamp and backpack and walk out with them. This was so easy I made sure to RAMSAVE the game as I was waiting for him to wake up and chase after me with an axe. About two hours of playing time later he still hadn't done it so I guess I'm safe.
Elsewhere there are boulders to block your path, caves, waterfalls, an old woman in a house, a signpost you can't read, a ring you can rub, orcs, ogres, a jeweller to buy your treasure, wandering tradesmen to sell you stuff like knives, dark tunnels that need a light, a chasm where the rope-bridge has collapsed and even a riddle to answer. In fact every adventuring idea you can think of and have seen ten times before... though I haven't yet found the obligatory maze or someone flogging a map. It can only be a matter of time though!
I've even found the obligatory spelling mistake and essential bug - "hurriedly" is spelt "hurridly" in the location next to the South Gate of the city, while if you EXAMINE GRASS in the place where it's 'tremendously long' (having searched it once and found some goodies), you're told to make sure that your disk is not write-protected. Yes, fine, whatever you say. There's even the obligatory bit of frustration, as in two places you find ledges which you cannot get onto because your boots are too smooth and slippy. Try to REMOVE BOOTS and you're told you're not wearing any. A bit more thought needed on that problem, methinks.
And yet, and yet... new players might love the game, as there's plenty to do, and if you find a problem stumping you in one direction you can go off in several others and explore to your heart's content. I've been exploring for hours and still haven't been down every avenue open to me. It looks like excellent value for money, a good sizeable game. But unless I come across something original soon I may well not want to devote another few hours to it, when there are other more exciting adventures still unfinished... and even unstarted!