The Valley is an ancient graphical roguelike RPG with an easy to use interface and a quite detailed and nearly-realtime combat system for its time.
The background story is all but non-existent, suffice to say that you're the hero and you want to explore the name-providing Valley to slay monsters and find treasure. Classic!
Character creation is equally quick and easy -- enter your name and choose one of five classes (Warrior, Wizard, Cleric, Barbarian and the not-so-common Thinker), differing by their magic and fighting abilities.
After that tedious work, you're ready to explore the Valley and its contents. You start out at a one of two castles, where you can rest and save your game. The road between the castles is safe, but every other place is teeming with monsters, magic places (upgrading or downgrading your stats) and, of course, treasure. The valley also contains a multi-level tower as well as some swamps and forests, which feature some other dungeons.
The game is played in a turn-based manner, except fighting which is timed delay. As you only have half a second or so to enter your next move, it gets quite challenging. It is also quite sophisticated for its time: You can attack the monster's head, body or legs, or you can cast one of three magic spells. Of course, some monsters can do the same to you. Finally, you may sometimes surprise a monster, getting a free attack or the choice to retreat (which is not possible in a normal fight).
Each level is randomly generated at the beginning of the game. The game provides a saving mechanism with 10 possible save games. Despite its simple graphics, the quick and easy gameplay and the challenging combat make this game quite advanced for its time.
The Valley and The Tomb of Drewan are two excellent remakes of classic Vic-20 games that were first released over 20 years ago. Similar to early Roguelikes, the gameplay in both games are fairly simple, consisting of a lot of exploration, treasure-hunting, and combat. Your goal in The Valley is to find the legendary Helm of Evanna, for which you need to find the Amulet of Alarian and six Amulet stones, while in The Tomb of Drewan it is to destroy the Tomb of Drewan by entering it and find the stones with which you can destroy it. Both games are played from a 2D, top-down perspective.
The Valley is a more simple game of the two: there are no magic treasures, armor, or even shops. Fighting involves selecting a spell (out of three), or selecting a target area on the body of the monster. In The Tomb of Drewan, character stats are more detailed and influential to gameplay - for instance, your strength value limits the weight of items you can carry. You will also find a greater variety of weapons than The Valley, and each magical stone you find grants special powers. For example, the Air Stone of N'gar will give you unlimited strength, so that you can carry around a lot of gold without having to slow down. In both games, you will battle numerous enemies, and gain higher stats in the process.
In terms of gameworld, The Valley makes up for its simple gameplay mechanics by a more interesting and diverse range of terrain. You will explore safe castles (which are also save points), swamps, forests, the Black Tower of Zaexon, Vounim's Lair, and the Temple of Y'Naigoth. In The Tomb of Drewan, you can only explore the tomb itself, but each level is huge and filled with many new treasures to find.
If you are interested in how fun early Roguelikes can be, both games are well worth your time. They are not as classic as the original Rogue or Sword of Fargoal, but they are a cut above the average RPGs of the bygone era when probably only a few dozen programmers worldwide knew what a PC look like ;) Both remakes, programmed by Paul Robson, are very faithful to the original games. The author has also generously put up source codes, so if you know how to program and want to improve them in some way, you definitely can.
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