Barsak the Dwarf

Producer: Gilsoft
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £5.95
Language: Machine code
Author: P & V Napolitano

Barsak is another Quilled adventure in Gilsoft’s Gold Collection. During and after loading it says behind the title ‘The Early Days’ — does this imply it’s only the first of a series? Barsak takes us back to the heartland of traditional adventures, the ancient days of the mythological underworld where the dwarves held the Nine Treasures. They have been lost, and now Barsak seeks to recover them. To complete the game it is necessary to wear or carry all nine treasures and sign the book at the end. Short instructions inform you of some basic facts about Quill adventures, the use of verb nouns format and the fact that the computer only examines the first four letters of a work, so that there is no need to type beyond that number, also that the adventure can be SAVED at any point.

Barsak commences his adventure in a dense forest with only one exit North. This leads to a clearing in which stands a large and rather run down castle. Exits to the north-east and north-west end up leading right round the castle in a circle. Leaving the clearing northwards takes you into the castle itself with its numerous locations in the curtain walls, barracks and keep.

Useful objects in this text-only adventure are shown in a darker blue. The first major problem is to find some food — you only have 17 turns before death sets in through starvation.

CRITICISM

‘Of the four adventures from the Gold Collection, this was the least interesting I thought. As it is strictly text-only, it does require more location description than is provided. After all, playing an adventure like this is a bit like reading a book, The Adventurer needs to have his appetite whetted, and a sense of excitement built up. The descriptions in Barsak are very short and to the point and reminded me a bit of those provided in the manual to The Quill for its tiny example adventure. The limit on surviving before finding food also irritates, not in itself, that would be fine if there were sufficient interest to capture the player before the limit runs out, but in Barsak it seems awfully difficult to get anything done with what you are offered.’

‘One of those bare adventures which make you wonder why they’re called adventure at all — travelogue would be a better name. But even the “sights” don’t amount to very much, and there is hardly anything to do. You can’t EXPLORE, EXAMINE, LOOK under or into and the closest I got to food before the seventeenth (dying) move was to be holding a jar of pickled gherkins which I couldn’t smash open, even though I was carrying a trusty battle axe. How’s that for logic? No doubt someone cleverer will tell me I’ve missed the point somewhere, but I might have tried harder if I’d been more gripped by it all.’

COMMENTS

Response: instant
Graphics: text only
General rating: in this case the excellent implementation seems more due to the excellence of The Quill than to the game itself.

Use of computer78%
Playability43%
Getting started54%
Addictive qualities42%
Value for money48%
Overall53%

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