GIFT FROM THE GODS

Producer: Ocean
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £9.95
Language: machine code
Author: Denton Designs

Screenshot

A puff of talcum powder indicates that Mother has this way been.

One of the happier notes in our article last month on the crash of Imagine, was that megagame programmer John Gibson was working with a brand new software company called Denton Designs, largely financed by Ocean. Gift from the Gods is their first game (they are now busy on Frankie Goes to Hollywood), and the team who created it is John Gibson, Karen Davies and Steve Crane (graphics), systems designer Kenny Everitt and graphics artist Ally Noble.

Gift from the Gods is a multi-screen strategy/adventure game which is joystick driven in a rather novel way. More of that later, first the storyline. Set in the Palace of Mycena in Ancient Greece, it follows the trials and tribulations of Orestes who, under the directions of the Gods Zeus and Apollo, must avenge the murder of his father, King Agememnon. Orestes must fulfill his destiny by trial in the Labyrinth beneath the palace and find the solution to the puzzle, or perish in the attempt.

Hidden in 16 special rooms are objects, known as Euclidian shapes, geometric designs based on triangles, circles and squares; six of which, when correctly positioned in the Guardian’s Chamber, reveal the exit. Orestes has some help from his sister Electra, who has been imprisoned in the Labyrinth, and she can guide him to where the shapes are hidden, but Orestes has to decide himself what shapes he must take to the Guardian’s Chamber. Illusionary creatures created by the Demi-Gods try to sap Orestes’ strength, but in certain rooms, life-giving water drips from the roof, replenishing energy and stamina. The Demi-Gods have also created illusory Euclidian shapes as which sit beside the real ones, and although these do not fool Electra, she isn’t always around to help. The other problem is his mother, Clytaemnestra, who has learned of his task and has entered the labyrinth to kill Electra.

Orestes is able to walk or fly and protect himself with a sword. All these functions would normally require loads of controls, but Gift from the Gods has an innovative ‘intelligent’ joystick feature, which effectively ‘knows’ what you want to do next. Whether it really ‘knows’ is another matter, but depending on the circumstances you are able to walk, fly or fight all from the four directions of the joystick.

The screen display is elegantly simple. Each room of the labyrinth is decorated in appropriate Greek style. It is possible to walk or fly vertically or horizontally between linked rooms. As Orestes disappears from view, there is a fast scroll to the next room into which he then appears. Some rooms are blocked by purple walls, through which he cannot go. Others have doors in them, and when positioned correctly, Orestes may move through them either into other rooms or into the secret hiding places of the Euclidian shapes. The only other detail is the stamina figure and a scrolling message line where Electra, Apollo and Zeus may talk. The labyrinth is a confusing place but Orestes may take some small comfort from the seven Tears of Icarus which he carries. Dropped sensibly these can help mark his passage, but wicked Clytaemnestra is likely to pick them up if she comes across them.


Screenshot Screenshot

A monstrous pile of snake-filled skulls leers at Orestes.

In a side room, Orestes comes across some Euclidian shapes, but which is the real one, and which are the illusions?

CRITICISM

COMMENTS

Screenshot

With winged boots, Orestes takes to the air thankful for his GIFT FROM THE GODS.

Control keys: top row — fire, second row — up, third row down, alternate keys bottom row left/right
Joystick: Sinclair 2, Kempston, Cursor
Keyboard play: very responsive, with sophisticated control possible, clever use of fire to stop movement, pick up/drop and fight. Eight directional movement
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: large, smooth with excellent detail and imagination used, first rate scrolling
Sound: very little really beyond the odd spot effect
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 100 points of stamina — you need it all
Screens: what do you expect — it’s a labyrinth!
General rating: an original, enjoyable game with a wide range of playing options, generally excellent, pity about the higher price.

Use of computer90%
Graphics91%
Playability81%
Getting started85%
Addictive qualities81%
Value for money75%
Overall84%

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