Personal Computer News5th January 1985
Published in Personal Computer News #093
Luxor lolled in his throne and knocked back another goblet of mead. "Luxor the Moonprince, Lord of Midnight - it's got a nice ring to it," he thought. And he could dine out for the rest of his life on the story of how he stuck his dagger in Doomdark's giblets.
Pity about the kid though. He'd sent the little moron up to the Tower of Doom with instructions to smash the Ice Crown, and not only had he done it - he'd come back in one piece. It had to be the truth, Luxor reasoned. There it was in black and white in the manual for Doomdark's Revenge.
And he was beginning to find the last couple of chapters disturbing. Morkin, heir to the throne, had suddenly stopped messing around with computer games (smashing Ice Crowns, stomping around being utterly bold and the like) and had taken an interest in girls. First he starts interfering with the Lord of Dreams' daughter, then next morning, if you please, he falls in love with Shareth the Heartstealer and goes running after her.
"I never knew Doomdark had a daughter," he mused. "Still, good riddance to the brat - wonder why it's called Doomdark's Revenge?"
His question was answered when Rorthron the Wise blew in. Shareth was holding Morkin hostage; Tarithel, the jilted bride, had run off looking for Morkin, and the Lord of Dreams had a funny look in his eye. "Suppose I'd best go and look for the little swine," he muttered, and headed north to the Icemark.
Doomdark's Revenge uses the same graphics system as Lords Of Midnight - you control a number of characters and see the world through their eyes. But the interaction of the characters is much more complex. In Lords of Midnight you started with four characters whose job was to recruit allies, and either the ally would join you or he wouldn't.
In Doomdark's Revenge they have more of a mind of their own, so if you approach the wrong bloke (Badbazza the barbarian, say) he's as likely to tear your head off as join you. The other characters are often off on quests of their own, and initially Shareth isn't nearly as well organised as Doomdark was. You're in the persuasion business and so is she, so you'll find the situation a lot more fluid. Your supporters may change sides, fight among themselves, refuse to cooperate - it's a real bundle of laughs.
You've got five tribes to deal with - Giants, Dwarves, Icelords, Barbarians and the Fey, and it may be helpful if I pass on a few hints. As yet I haven't manage to recruit a Giant, but they haven't attacked me so they're probably neutral. The Dwarfs in general aren't much use. They're shiftless, treacherous and cowardly, and even if you manage to recruit one he's liable to skive off at the first available opportunity, leaving you in the lurch.
The Fey are your best bet, although some (watch out for Thigrak) can be troublesome. But even the troublemakers here can be recruited provided you can recruit their liege lord, or keep their sword enemies out of sight.
Initially the Barbarians can seem bad news, but it's mistake to assume that they're not worth approaching. If you head straight north on entering the Icemark you'll probably run into a bad lot, but run like mad in a north-easterly direction and the immediate danger should pass.
Once you've started a game the immediate problem seems to be survival. There's a fairly unpleasant barbarian war band due north, but if you can avoid them and recruit a few followers the danger passes. The armies here seem to have less staying power than in Lords of Midnight, and you get a much clearer advantage by being on the attack, so it can sometimes make sense to go for a superior force, and run for your life the next day.
Running off immediately doesn't seem to work - they follow you and catch you off guard, so in the case of the war band it's best to wear it down with a series of short attacks.
So far, the best I've managed in this one is survival. Morkin is probably somewhere up to the north-east, but I haven't got that far, and although there's probably a quest involved as well as a military conflict I haven't managed to identify any structure to it. Once you reach breakthrough point on survival (I reckon recruiting around ten lords) the game could probably go on for some considerable time.
So as far as I'm concerned, those long winter nights look much brighter now those nice people at Beyond have given me Doomdark's Revenge. There are only two blots on the horizon. First, my review copy's almost as difficult to load as Lords of Midnight. It uses a fast loader of sorts, and one of those tiresome RAM checks that happily resets the Spectrum two times out of every three - Beyond should get its act together just in case it ever launches a game that isn't worth the extra effort.
The other problem is the non-existent map. Beyond is cashing in by charging £1.95 extra for said map, but it wasn't ready at the time of review, so I hope you lot appreciate the hours of scribbling on squared paper that's gone into this review.
A better drawing with the manual would definitely have been appreciated.