This issue is Derek Brewster’s last as Adventure Trail columnist — the programmer/writer is leaving CRASH to set up a software house and won’t have time to breathe, let alone LOOK AROUND.
Starting next issue, adventure enthusiasts from the regular CRASH reviewing team will be covering each month’s major releases in Adventure Trail — and the tips and letters sections, Signstumps and Signpost, will continue too. (The addresses remain unchanged.) So will Superheroes, annoucing the first people to complete new adventures.
But CRL’s Jack The Ripper is, we decided, a special case. Its notoriety and 18 certificate are bound to attract many nonadventurers, so it’s treated here as an ordinary game.
Almost a century ago, Jack The Ripper roamed the dark treats of London’s East End for four terror-filled months in 1988. At least seven murders of prostitutes have been attributed to the killer (or killers) unknown, and the gas lamps didn’t make anyone feel any safer; Jack might be afoot that night, and British razors have always been of good quality.
CRL and the ‘lady’ programmers of St Brides, known for their Victorian attire, have chosen to ‘commemorate’ these events with the first computer game to receive an 18 certificate from the British Board Of Film Classification. It follows in the horror tradition of the same software house’s Dracula and Commodore 64 Frankenstein, both given 15 certificates. (St Brides’s previous credits include the rather milder 1985 adventure The Snow Queen.)
This scrolling script of Victorian terror was written using Gilsoft’s Professional Adventure Writer system, and the mock-19th century text is complemented by graphics screens showing the more unpleasant aspects of the human anatomy when a cutting edge bites deep.
Circumstance leads you to become prime suspect in the police’s hunt for London’s most wanted man. On waking the next morning you discover that your house is watched by the police. To prove your innocence you must escape from the confines of your small abode and follow the pathway of clues that can prove your innocence.
The window seems the only means of escape, but climbing out of a window when there are police close by might make you look a little suspicious... perhaps some kind of disguise could be the answer.
Commands can be given in full-sentence form, or using conventional abbreviations such as W instead of GO WEST; adverbs allows you to accomplish tasks slowly or carefully. Commands can be given to other characters with the SAY TO instruction. The INVENTORY command lists everything that you carry, while LOOK brings up a description of your surroundings.
But whatever instructions you might use, don’t forget that time is precious. The London bobbies are out to get you.
“Jack The Ripper is a reasonable introduction to the world of adventuring. But there’s in fact very little to do; your course of action is clearly mapped from beginning to end. True, there’s some atmosphere when something nasty happens, but it wears off rather quickly. Perhaps the best point is the extensive vocabulary, which allows the novice adventurer to communicate with the computer with hardly any trouble.”
ROBIN ... 65%
“What a gruesome subject — I’m not a wimpo, but I can see why it’s got an 18 certificate. The graphics aren’t really that scary, but the text creates a terrifying atmosphere. Practically, it’s annoying to have to go all the way through the long, time-consuming opening sequence each time you play. But once you get into the meat of the game you have to be really clever, trying to fool everyone as to who you are. Jack The Ripper is repetitive, but there’s plenty of atmosphere and it’s interesting enough to appeal to nonspecialists.”
PAUL ... 78%
“Unlike so many adventures, Jack The Ripper has a wide variety of options, locations and vocabulary available from the start. The language used is clear enough without the very flashy graphics, and it’s extremely easy to follow what’s going on.”
BYM ... 72%
Graphics: small gory pictures
Sound: there’s an ocarina to play in the first room
General rating: an unsophisticated adventure with lots of witty writing and a much-discussed bloodiness