From: "Bozzie" (edharel@eden.rutgers.edu)

NAME: Demon's Tomb - PARSER: OK. Nothing fancy.
AUTHOR: Mastertonic - PLOT: Stop ancient demon.
EMAIL: ??? - ATMOSHPHERE: Nice.
AVAILABILITY: Commercial(Bargain bins) - WRITING: Very good.
PUZZLES: Average, but logical - SUPPORTS: PC
CHARACTERS: Very, very good (See below) - DIFFICULTY: Medium

This is an old game, but nonetheless it is a very good one. It deals with such important issues as fighting an ancient evil, sacrificing yourself in order to save the world (don't worry, not a spoiler), and how to keep a duck from quacking.

The game starts off with you as Professor Edward Lynton, famed archaeologist, in an important site in England. Recently, some strange things have occurred. Your partner has gone missing. You have discovered things in the site which are both more amazing than your wildest dreams, and more horrifying than your worst nightmares. You awake in the middle of the night and smell smoke...

With no escape outside this recently discovered tomb, you must send a message to the outside world, before the tomb becomes your own (and it will, no matter what you do. That's made very clear throughout the skimpy manual). You have only a short amount of time to do what you must do before you are overcome by smoke. Despite your actions, after a certain number of moves, the prologue ends and the game starts.

You are Richard, the professor's son, in a car lot near the archeological site. You are here to talk to your father, but unfortunately, he is in no condition to talk. As you learn more about his death, depending on your earlier efforts, you will find a tale of a centuries old rivalry, of evil about to be unleashed and that you are the only one to stop it.

The story itself is nice, and immediately reminded me of a Doctor Who story, Pyramids of Mars (also a text adventure game at /pc/mars.zip. Somewhat rough about the edges, but is a fairly good AGT game) . The story generally comes in spurts at a time in some wonderful prose. Notes, letters, documents all give some great insights at several interesting people who lived in the area. While most of these aren't necessary for the game, it is well worth your time to read everything.

There are few, if any, "real" characters in Demon's Tomb that you can interact with, and most of those that there are puzzles more than anything. However, the descriptions, as I have said above, more than make up for the lack of interacting agents. In fact, in some ways, it makes it better. As recent debates on r.a.i-f have shown, there is no easy way to make a good NPC in a text game, and indeed, even if you manage to, there will still be problems with him/her. This way, the author manages to show us some wonderful characterizations without having to code a lot of time-eating code. This is not to say that the game is simple. Indeed, the game tries to be flashy by offering a menu system and some graphics, space which could have been used more efficiently. Indeed, I would have liked there to have been a good developed character. For example, how about a motorist I could flag down and warn, and then find him dead later...

The Parser is sub-Infocom, but quite adequate for its purpose. The puzzles themselves are fairly simple, but not overly simple, and they are dynamic, so as not to bore experienced gamers. But that doesn't deter from the game, it adds to it. There are no completely obscure puzzles, and there are a few interesting ones. There are certainly no unfair puzzles, and enough of an area to explore, so that should you get frustrated at one problem, you'll be able to explore another area. And if you really need some help, C. E. Forman has graciously made a hint file of the game on ftp.gmd.de.

It is because the story doesn't try to serve complex problems, the author is able to work on the story, and still throw in a new and interesting puzzle or two. It also manages to allow freedom to explore, although tends to be mostly linear in terms of solving problems. While I could hope for better, in terms of problem solving and a few other areas, over all, I enjoy this game, and it's certainly up there on my list of favorite games.