We've all woken up bruised and uncomfortable in a slimy dungeon from time to time, but Dermot is definitely in trouble! The gaoler looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a skin condition and his conversation is singularly charmless. So begins The Lure of the Temptress, and why not? It's a fairly standard sort of intro for interactive games; how to get out of the first room without getting beaten to a bloody pulp by the Skorl (big, bad tempered, ugly, gaoler types). Once Dermot finds his way out of his cell, he is loose in the dungeons and must enlist the help of any fellow prisoners he might encounter. Which brings us on to the subject of Ratpouch! Ratpouch is Turnvale's first, and probably only ever, stand up comedian. The Skorl, who seem to be in charge, didn't appreciate his jokes. Once Dermot figures out a way to free him, Ratpouch will become a very useful ally: his mixture of street cunning and ignorant strength coupled with Dermot's good looks and brains make a formidable combination. Once free from the dungeons (a precipitous departure). Dermot and Ratpouch must set about exploring the village of Turnvale in search of the adventure. The adventure is certainly connected with the apprentice sorceress: Selena, who has taken control of Turnvale, and killed the king (Dermot's master). So it might well transpire that the plot might involve over throwing Selena and replacing her with someone who doesn't employ 400 pound troll-things as their personal bodyguard. Who should they consult? They must deliver a message to the local blacksmith, but his mother's gone completely gaga, so he's more likely to be in the pub. The local gossip is a wealth of information, the local shopkeeper is obviously several sandwiches short of a tea trolly, and why are those monks only interested in comparing art with male nipples? How did the barbarian get barred from the pub? Where is Taidgh the magician? All these questions and more crop up in Turnvale, an every day tale of a medieval village under occupation by a bunch of badass mercenary monsters.
The Game is controlled entirely by mouse, which takes a short while to master, but once you've got it you'd be amazed what you can accomplish with two fingers (ooer, as Ratpouch might say). The Left button is usually either walk to, or examine. The right hand button is usually either drink, look, examine, list status, or interact with. Where menus are involved, the left button acts as a selector and the right button a deselector, using menus it is possible to program a series of actions which Ratpouch can perform, remember to program return at the end of a series of instructions, or you'll have to go and find him. A lot of humour has gone into the dialogue of this game and it is well worth stopping and talking to everyone you meet: the Virtual Theatre aspect of the game means that news of events travels between inhabitants of the game, as these events take place, their responses change. Some responses are particularly telling: 'Is he a great philosopher? No, he's a lazy old sod!', for example. It's also worth evesdropping on other people's conversations, you can learn that Skorls are fond of squirrel in a basket for their lunch. Every aspect of this interactive adventure is dripping with quality: graphics, sound, and dialogue are a joy to behold. The whole thing works brilliantly, looks great and isn't boring (a real problem these games can suffer from!). Does it's Virtual Theatre aspect contribute to the effect in any significant manner? Dunno really, it's clearly a great idea though I suppose that it was subtle to the point of being taken for granted. Information was being exchanged in the absence of the protagonists, events were taking place elsewhere, but the willing suspension of disbelief required for these games is at such a level, that that sort of thing is usually taken as read. The manual says that Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame is involved with the production of the next V.T. game, if this one's anything to go by, that should be well worth waiting for.
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