For many years, S.S.I. had the sole rights to the AD&D series on the desk-top computer. In the late eighties, they released some fairly popular titles, that were built on campaigns from the AD&D role playing universe. They employed a slightly modified perspective of what was available back then. The movement was based on a small 3D window in the top left corner of the screen (a la Wizardry I), and when combat was engaged, the perspective shifted over to an angular bird's eye view (a la Ultima). Back then role playing offerings were pretty thin, so the AD&D games fared well. Since then much has changed and S.S.I. no longer holds the exclusive rights to the AD&D universe. A multitude of companies have arisen offering many different types of role playing games. S.S.I. has tried to stay in the game by offering up DeathKeep.
DeathKeep seemed to offer a great deal. It was one of the first games that was released exclusively for Windows 95, offered a real time 3D perspective and was once again based in the world of AD&D.
The introduction of the game was nice. The story is narrated by the use of "stain glass" style pictures, and some small amounts of 3D rendered animation. According to the story line, the Oracle of the Keep has summoned one of three heroes (one of the three player classes you choose: a Dwarven Fighter, an Elven Mage or a Half-Elf Fighter/Mage) to battle the evil Necromancer who has escaped from his long imprisonment. It seems that the Necromancer is out to get his long lost power in the ruins of an old dwarven sanctuary called the DeathKeep. Within the Keep are three towers, each of which holds a magical orb key. Naturally, its up to you to get each one of them. kill the evil one and save the day!
This game has ground breaking graphics. Unfortunately they would only be ground breaking if the game had been released in 1980. By today's standards, DeathKeep's graphics couldn't even be considered poor. When it first loaded up, I was sure that the game was only using four colors (that would be CGA graphics for all of you ankle-biters). The graphics are just really, really bad and I'm still in shock. The walls have poorly applied textures to them. The textures are badly designed and colored. The player's face looks as if it was hand drawn by an amateur. The monsters are also poorly drawn and are almost pathetic.
On the other hand, the music and sound effects were good. Naturally, music and sound effects are never enough to save a low-quality game, and in this case, the player feels as though it was a shame that they didn't use the sounds for something a little better.
The controller interface was badly designed. The mouse cannot be configured for different actions, and there are many keys to learn. There was nothing intuitive about the interface, and some functions seemed outright useless. For example, there was a jump button, but you could barely tell that you jumped.
Another disappointing aspect of the game was that the spell system hadn't changed from the late eighties. The AD&D series have suffered in that there is no originality in any of their products. The spells are the same ones in every single game that they release. They never change!!! That is a big problem. AD&D titles seem to be stagnant, and they can't compete with games like Heretic, Hexen, and even the now old Ultima Underworld series. In conclusion, DeathKeep plays like an in-house pre-beta beta. This is a product that should never have been released, and S.S.I. will suffer for it.
People who downloaded Deathkeep have also downloaded:
Descent to Undermountain, Darkstone, Dark Sun 2: Wake of the Ravager, Demise: Rise of the Ku'tan, Chosen, The: Well of Souls, Dungeon Master 2: The Legend of the Skullkeep, Dink Smallwood, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands
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