The Bitmap Brothers have gained near godlike status in the software industry for producing top-notch games. Bitmap has become a byword for quality. Cadaver, the second to last Bitmap game for Image Works before their defection to Renegade, is soon to be released and is every bit as good as their previous gamesware. As Karadoc, a bloodthirsty, psychopathic dwarf bounty hunter, you must enter a castle possessed by magic, evil creatures, traps and tricks, defeat a vile Necromancer, then escape to spend your hard-earned riches on a flagon of ale in the nearest hostelry.
The quest starts shortly after you've run your boat aground at the entrance of the caves that run beneath the castle. Unfortunately your boat decides to make friends with a rock and is rendered useless, so there's no turning back. Moving through Cadaver takes more brain work than brawn. The start of level one is an exercise in exploration and collecting. The only obstacle to start with is a wall which is easily smashed up with a pickaxe. From there on the puzzles come thick and fast. To help you with your conquests, messages and books are littered around the caves and in the crypts. These contain clues and hints. Although you can find your own way around, using these tips cuts down the amount of aimless wandering you might do while searching for inspiration.
Your main weapons are stones, which are in plentiful supply. Spells can also be used, but your supply is limited and it's best to save these for the later levels. Once you get the hang of puzzle-solving you start to know what to look out for, and realise how the game system works and how the various objects can be manipulated.
Controlling Karadoc is done almost entirety through the joystick. Clicking on the lire button gives you access to icons which allows you to examine or manipulate objects or to run through your inventory one object at a time. Hitting return brings up a full list of the contents of your back pack, saving you the need to scroll through the items individually.
Level one ends with a huge green dragon, which doesn't cause too many problems providing you've done everything right up until then. If you missed an important move you could well find yourself entering a prolonged battle. This first level features a variety of corpses, skeletons, crypts and other not-so-nice creatures that hide out in damp caves. Level two takes place inside the castle. The decor changes to bright walls and fine decoration and even the spell icons change from scrolls to wands as the game takes on a different feel. The puzzles, too, become more intricate and complex.
Cadaver contains five levels, each containing between 50 and 150 screens. The graphics are smart and imaginative and the sound effects are interesting to say the least. The puzzles give the game its substance and are pitched so that they're not too difficult but require quite a bit of thought and trial and error before you can solve them. I only have one criticism: some of the room exits are very obscure. I wandered round for half an hour on the first level before I came across one - and that was almost too thin to see. This minor gripe aside, Cadaver is a strong package, and definitely one of the most complete arcade adventures to grace the small screen this year.
It's an isometric action adventure from Bitmap Brothers / Image Works. You play a thief called Karadoc. You heard a legend, that the castle Wulf is filled with treasure. What legend didn't say: It's also filled with deadly traps, riddles and monsters. The isometric view makes the game similar to the Heimdall series.
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