To be honest the first time I played this game I didn’t appreciate it , I was just 13 in the summer of 84 and it looked daunting , strange and unlike anything else I had ever played. Even the old world style language used in the game was unfamiliar , luckily a pal of mine was more persistent and got to grips with the then unfamiliar way the game played , he called me up to come and see the game in full flow , I saw armies battling , a full world of warriors , magic and excitement , from that moment I was hooked.
Starting off as the four main characters – Luxor , Morkin (his son) , Rothron the Wise and Corleth the fey the object of the game is basically to save your land of midnight from the witchking doomdark . You must use each one (except Morkin ) to gather up a large enough army to guard your citadel Xajorkith against the impending attack by doomdarks forces.
Getting back to Morkin , his quest is a different kettle of fish , he must sneak up towards doomdarks citadel Ushgarak and recover the ice crown , the item that has plunged the land of midnight into a perpetual winter , and destroy it with the help of Fawkrin or drop it into the lake of mirrors.
The graphics were and still are very impressive, the game is played in full 3d , the mountains , forests , armies , hills , keeps , citadels and more , rise in the distance rise as you progress through the world of Icemark. It might not sound much by todays graphical standards but it was a major leap back then.
During the day the land of midnight is yours to wander quite freely , except for various creatures such as skulkrin , giants and wolves which can be deadly to a lone traveller are usually disposed off easily , the hours of daylight left are built into the terrain that’s traversed during day which can last between 2 and 7 moves per character , sometimes if your lucky you can find items which bring a new dawn or maybe your army is tired from marching all day and need a rest to rejuvenate them , also the lakes can be used once to fully refresh a tired lord or army.
Recruiting riders and warriors to the cause is done via the keeps and citadels , each Lord will have his own army and usually have spare riders or warriors at his citadel , as long as your Lord matches the race of warriors to recruit then you can quickly gather a huge army behind Luxor and make your way to defend Xajorkith. When playing i usually try and recruit at least fourteen lords , each with a huge gathering of armies and lead them to the capital , as the game progresses and doomdarks forces march on towards your citadel your army must be in place and ready to stand and defend for around twenty nights of intense fighting , you can also send one chap (usually I send Corleth the fey ) up north as it were , to recruit some fringe troops which you can meet later on , once the battle in the south has eased off , meanwhile Morkin is making his way up the western side of the map towards Ushgarak trying to steal the ice crown and distracting doomdarks forces along the way.
Considering this game is crammed into around 42k of ram , Mike Singleton has done an exceptional job , it contained 32,000 different views from within the land of midnight , 6000 locations , independent computer controlled warriors , great graphics and for the first time made you believe in the world you played in , I was totally astounded by the plot and depth that was shown in the game , it is a non linear game so you can play it in a different way every game , I think that’s part of the appeal , at the time its closest rivals would have been the basic wargames combined with a text / graphical adventure , to me it was a great leap forward , showed what the spectrum was capable of and will always remain a milestone in gaming history.