The aim of this interactive fiction with graphics is to escape from the land of Kerovnia, where strange occurrences are routine. The Roobikyoub dwarves have been banished from the kingdom, which is not good as they produce high-quality whisky. King Erik is not popular for this decision, as some feel that ale brewers and mineral water bottlers have influenced him. Honest John the trader and Kronos the Magician play a key role in your journey, each offering sub-quests to attempt.
The package includes a novella complete with map and decipherable hints, which are accessed by typing 'hint' followed by the code into the computer. Therefore, those with only a pirated copy would struggle to complete the game.
Your score and the number of locations visited are both displayed in the title bar. The parser allows whole words to be deleted and unaccepted previous entries to be re-edited.
You're awake in the middle of nowhere in the land of Kernovia, with a strange wristband (you can not remove) on your hand. You are but a pawn here and wish to have an independent life. In order to leave, you need to finish one of the better text based adventures I've ever played.
There are quite some things that impressed me when I first played this game. The game (although text based) has some nice looking graphics, although the resolution is quite strange (640x350). I was also surprised to see that the picture covers up the text, so you need to scroll it up, to read everything. You can even get some hints within the game (which I found a really neat idea). But there are two things impressed me the most.
The first one is of the technical nature. The parser recognizes complex commands and I don't mean just a set of commands you could give at the same time (like: “get key and unlock the door with the key and open the door and drop key”), no you can say something like: “drop everything but this and that”, so you don't have to drop every single inventory item separately (you don't even have to know what you have in the inventory). This was very impressive.
The second one was the idea of an adventurer, who's traveling the land of Kernovia at the same time you are. This means you have some competition and if the other guy gets to some place before you, he can take the items you'd need to collect there. Luckily there's a way to get rid of that guy, but this was the only text based computer game where I saw this feature.
Apart from the impressive parser, and a few novel ideas supported by graphics, the game also has a good plot line, where you‘ll meet some interesting characters on the way. No wonder this game became an instant hit when it first came out. It was only a matter of time, before they made a sequel to it (and they off course did).
So if you're in a mood of traveling into a magical far off land and become a part of an interactive fiction story, I strongly suggest The Pawn to you. It's an absolute “must have” for all text based adventure fans out there.
Definitely one of the "Finest Hours" of the British interactive fiction scene, Magnetic Scrolls' first release The Pawn was an instant sensation in Europe when it was first released by Rainbird in 1987, and instantly earned its the developer the moniker of "Europe's Infocom." The PC version, not surprisingly, fared much worse than the Commodore and Amiga version due to inferior graphics and almost nonexistent music.
The game is off to a good start with an imaginative fantasy plot. After being knocked out on the way home from the market, you awake in the magical land of Kerovnia, with a silver band clasped around your wrist that cannot be removed. Your goal is to escape Kerovnia, where a general election is about to be held to decide whether King Erik will continue to reign. A dwarf, whose campaign pledge (to cheers of adventurers worldwide, no doubt) is to "rid dungeons of mazes of any sort" is running against the King. Other locals you'll meet are Kronos the Magician, a Guru on a hill, and a Dragon, all of whom are very well-written and memorable in his or her unique way.
If you've never heard of Magnetic Scrolls, or a parser that not only rivals but surpasses Infocom's in many respects, you are in for a pleasant surprise with The Pawn. With a 3,500-word vocabulary, it understands adjectives, pronouns, and two interpretations of the conjunction (instead of just one as with most parsers). How many games could handle this sentence: "Get all except the cases but not the violin case then kill the man-eating shrew with the contents of the violin case."? The parser outdoes Infocom's in the number of multiple commands it can deal with in one go: 32. In fact, the only feature of the (late) Infocom parser that is missing here is the "oops" feature (if you've misspelled or used an unknown word in a command, such as "get the yellow frob," you can say "oops frog" instead of retyping the entire command).
But even the world's smartest parser is just a bunch of bits and bytes unless it's put to work inside a good game, and fortunately, The Pawn delivers in spades.The game wraps a well-honed prose, great graphics (even though they are grainy in the PC version), and scores of puzzles - some diabolically difficult, others deceptively simple - in a fun story that unfolds as you progress (you won't learn the significance of the game's title until later in the game). Most puzzles are object-oriented, and there are dozens of things to juggle while figuring out how and where to use them. If you get stuck, the game's on-line hint feature doles out graduated hints, similar to Infocom's Invisiclues hintbooks. Purists who don't want graphics to get in the way of their imagination can turn them off, to no detriment to gameplay, since most scenes are described in great detail, ofen with a wry sense of British humor.
With a great plot, outstanding parser, and many imaginative puzzles bound to keep adventurers up late at night, The Pawn is a revolutionary step in interactive fiction, a pioneer in the field that just no IF fan should pass up. Magnetic Scrolls even includes a thick, well-written novella "Tales of Kerovnia" that sets the stage to the game. A must-have!
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Guild of Thieves, Planetfall [Solid Gold], Wonderland, Dungeon Master, Neuromancer, Quest for Glory 1: So You want to be a Hero (remake), Rocky Horror Interactive Show, The, Quest for Glory 3: Wages of War
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