Like Shard of Inovar and Kobayashi Naru, released in the same year, Mastertronic's Venom is a text-based adventure game that uses a novel cursor interface system instead of the traditional text parser. And, also like the other two games, Venom's interface system is quite innovative in theory but less than ideal in practice. Unlike Kobayashi Naru, though, gameplay is solid enough to overcome the problems caused by the interface system.
Instead of the Kobayashi Naru style icon-based verb selection system, Mastertronic opted to put the actual words on the right side of the screen in a list. This is a bit of an improvement, as the icon system used in the aforementioned game was hard to decipher at times, forcing you to scroll through all the icons one at a time to find the one you want. Being able to see the words directly on the screen makes the verb selection process much easier.
Unfortunately, Venom takes Kobayashi Naru's input sensitivity problem to the other extreme. Whereas Kobayashi Naru was so sensitive that pressing a direction button would send your cursor flying across the screen, Venom's cursor moves with such a distinct lack of speed you'd think it was swimming through molasses. Any speed gains made through Venom's use of a verb list instead of icons is lost by the plodding speed of the cursor.
Venom's graphics are passable representations of what you're intended to see. After playing for some time, though, you're likely to ignore the graphics altogether and just concentrate on the textual descriptions since the graphics are crude drawings that give you virtually no substantive information.
With so much information being passed through the game's textual descriptions, you'd think the developers would have chosen a better font. Venom's text is done in a small, squat and thick font that can be difficult to read for gamers with less than perfect vision or those not used to reading large amounts of text from computer monitors.
The game makes up for its deficiencies by offering you a solid adventure experience with some challenging puzzles. Venom's storyline is typical derivative fantasy fare in most respects, putting you in the role of a hapless traveler who ends up saving the land from some overwhelming evil but the text descriptions are written well enough to keep you from snoozing.
The puzzles in the game are typical adventure game fare and require you to get and use "item A" at "location B" to solve "puzzle C." There are a few non-player characters throughout the game but your ability to interact with them is so limited they might just as well be switches, scrolls or other objects depending on their function in the game. You won't find anything great or original in Venom's gameplay but it is solid and enjoyable nonetheless.
Venom is a solid, if uninspired, adventure game that uses an innovative cursor interface system that isn't as polished as it could have been. If you're an adventure gamer and don't mind putting up with the interface, Venom might be worth your time.
Graphics: Crude graphics and a poor font make the game ugly to view.
Enjoyment: The storyline may be formulaic and puzzles derivative but the game nonetheless manages to be an enjoyable adventure puzzle experience.
Replay Value: The plot and puzzles are entirely linear and negate any true replay value.
Venom is a text based adventure game with graphics.
Many, many years ago the great Lord Mirosima defeated the evil Traklan and condemned him to spend eternity underground. Time passed and Traklan has arisen and once more threatens the land of Armosin. The player takes the role of Rikka, a warrior and friend of the current ruler, Arrel. The game starts outside an inn, the Dancing Drayman, where Rikka has arranged to meet his friends Arrel and Beris, and unfolds as they explore the land.
This game can be played either with the keyboard or by joystick. The commands needed to play the game, 'Go North', 'Examine', 'Give' etc are listed in a window on the right of the playing area. The player selects one by scrolling to it and the game then allows the player to select a suitable subject from either the inventory, the list of companions, or the text describing the current location.
The last Mastertronic adventure game disappointingly abandons the innovative icon-based interface used in Kobyashi Naruand Shard of Inovarin favor of words menu that you must scroll down relentlessly to find words you need to construct the sentence. Other than this nuisance, it's a solid fantasy adventure that starts you out as a weary traveller stopping by an inn for rest, without knowing dangers that lie within.
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