Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Heavy on the Magick'

Rating:5 User: Matt_B

Returning back to the realms of fantasy, albeit rather more Jack Vance than Celtic legend, for their fourth graphical adventure this game saw Gargoyle Games give the system a rather radical overhaul. Alas, despite the promise of several sequels, it was to be their last as Gargoyle would choose to end their Spectrum era with a more profitable line in arcade-style action games under the FTL banner.

Instead of the scrolling backgrounds, the game was divided up into a series of rooms; although perhaps not quite so pleasing on the eye, it improved the gameplay in the sense that it was no longer necessary to change direction in order to look for doors or objects in the background.

Another radical change to the look was that the game had blockier graphics as something of a trade off to allow characters of the same size, but with many more frames of animation. This was used to memorable effect with a much larger cast of distinct characters and creatures than previous games.

Further changes involved the use of text input to control your character; you could use shorthand to enter some of the most common commands, but for a game that still ran in real time, you needed to be pretty quick to keep up sometimes. The game also had a touch of RPG influence in the magic and stats based combat systems.

Despite all the technical innovations, what really makes the game is the atmosphere and puzzles though. It's a much richer experience than their previous games which, although enjoyable, could seem rather sparse at times. There are numerous distinct areas within the dungeon, populated by their own creatures, with a few wandering monsters, a veritable pantheon of demons, and three separate exits to be found.

All in all, this was far and away my favourite of the four adventures. There's the usual mixture of lateral thinking and atrocious puns, but it all seemed so much more logical to me with very little to get stuck on for too long, and the non-linear nature gives you plenty else to have a go at whilst you're trying.