Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Bloodwych'

Rating:5 User: Digital Prawn

Excellent and absorbing RPG, played from a first person perspective in an immersive 3D multi-level dungeon environment. You control a team of up to four members selected from an initial pool of champions. There are the usual fighters, mages, adventurers and archers available and you'll probably want to construct a well balanced team. In fact the game is so addictive, whilst brushing up on it for this review, I just lost nearly two hours totally engrossed in it again!

The game sports single player mode and split-screen two player mode and is also well known for its primitive conversational system where you can charm or insult NPCs, barter with them and so on. You can even recruit new members to your party provided it isn't already full. It's hilarious when you try to sell something and a character says something like "Wilt thou rip me off?", that's medieval realism for you!

The game supports the usual varieties of weapons, foods, spells, skills and enemies as expected in an RPG and it's also very large. I don't know how long it would take to complete, but I imagine it is measured in weeks.

The game is essentially of the 16-bit era and usually when such games have been ported to 8-bit systems, I will typically ignore the 8-bit version and instead play the Amiga/ST/PC version. Here though, I am very interested in the ZX Spectrum version as it has a different level set than the 16-bit versions. My understanding is that the 8-bit versions all share this set of levels and the 16-bit versions all use another (even larger) set of levels. So, even if you have played the 16-bit versions as I have, the 8-bit versions still hold a lot of interest in exploring the levels.

Technically the game is an amazing feat, I have read that on the 48K version, some of the larger levels were squeezed in so tightly that merely 7 bytes of memory were remaining. So, this game really pushes the speccy to its limits.

It goes without question, for those who really love large and complex RPGs in the "Dungeon Master" mould, you couldn't ask for much better than this on the speccy. In fact when I first heard that 8-bit versions of the game existed I was completely surprised, yet it has somehow been achieved and despite the somewhat inferior graphics, there's absolutely no loss of playability whatsoever.

Only minor criticism is the control system. It's really based around use of a mouse driven pointer, hardware lacking on the standard speccy. By default the game will user Sinclair 2 joystick Port 2, or you can define keys to move the mouse-like cursor around. It would have been really good though if time-saving keyboard shortcuts to move the party around forwards,backwards,left,right had been implemented as its a little clumsy using a keyboard-driven mouse pointer to click on the movement icons, but I guess there really was no extra RAM to play with.

So overall, just a magnificent achievement to have shoe-horned such an ambitious game into the humble speccy, but most of all it's recklessly addictive once a new game is started. Really gives the player the experience of exploration and adventure. Brilliant.