What do I have? What’s this in my big box of magical things underneath the Great Suprendo’s glasses? Why it’s a new indie game for the Amstrad CPC called Eternal Light!
Now, first off I should tell you that this game has been written in BASIC with a bit of help from something called the “Sprites Alive” which, I presume, makes sprites move around the screen. Secondly, that it’s by someone called Morrisoft and it apparently took six months to write.
So, what do we do in this game? What’s it all about (they scream and then they shout)? Well, to be honest I’m not sure. None of the stuff I found on this game online said much about a plot, all I know is that the player controls a bloke with long white hair and a beard of similar hue dressed in blue robes (probably a wizard of some kind although it could just be someone’s mad old
grandad wandering around in his dressing-gown) who explores a maze of screens looking for lanterns. I’m not sure why he’s looking for lanterns but they surround him on the title screen so they must be quite important to him. Maybe they’re those Chinese lanterns people release into the air and that people keep mistaking for flying saucers and that have come down to land and our hero has to fetch them all back because the company that sells them is really cheap; maybe he just really really likes lanterns and has a house full of them, that and cats. Anyway, why blokey is wandering around in his gown hunting down lanterns is unimportant, it’s what he does and why he does it isn’t really any of our business! What matters, as ever, is how this game plays.
From what I’ve described of the game you’re probably thinking that it’s a little like Sabre Wulf or Project Future and, yes, at its most basic the gameplay is like that. But it’s nothing like those games to actually play, and the main reason for this is one of speed. Yes, this game is slow. It’s very slow. It’s probably slower than Magic Pockets and that’s jolly slow.
Now, the programmer says this game is written in BASIC and, assuming Amstrad CPC BASIC is a bit like Speccy BASIC I assume that means that it stops things running at a fair old rate. If this is the case then that’s understandable but it doesn’t actually change the fact that this game is fairly boring to play as a result. It takes ages to have grandpa lantern-lover wander from one side of the screen to the other and when you enter the next screen there’s a wait of about a second and a half until the next one shows up. That’s making a slow game even slower!
Most of the game consists of wandering around the maze-like play area looking for the lanterns. Some are easy to reach, some are behind “puzzle” obstacles like women who won’t budge until you find their missing brother. So there’s a very slight arcade-adventure element to gameplay as well.
There’s not really much to fight. The only enemy I encountered was some kind of little black ball things which bounce around the screen. They can be dispatched by a magical blast/stale roll fired by our magical/geriatric hero but it never gets either especially challenging or exciting. Energy is represented onscreen by a row of hearts (or are these lives, again I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter). When our hero is touched by an evil ball-thing one of these hearts is lost and when they’re all lost it’s game over.
One thing I really did like about this game, though, is the presentation. Things open with an excellent high-resolution loading screen and the in-game graphics are, in the main, pleasantly chunky and colourful. I particularly liked the background graphics which had a nice Zela-esque feel and represented paths, forests, rivers and mountains nicely. It’s a shame the bad guys look so naff, though. Sound’s pretty good as well – no tune but lots of pleasant blips and blops as whitebeard goes about his business. This game isn’t exactly packed with great art but it’s above-average for something that’s been knocked-out by an independent developer.
Overall, though, this is just too slow and unexciting to grab the player. It looks nice and I think there’s definitely something there that can be expanded on but currently all we have here is a slow, rather boring maze game with some nice graphics. Speed this up, add a few more nasties (which are a bit more threatening) and maybe a bit more variety to the maze and a smattering of bonus pick-ups and you’re heading into the realms of proper old-school maze game. At the moment what we’ve got feels like nothing so much as a work in progress to show the boss, let him know you’re getting on with that Sabre Wulf beater but that you’ve not finished yet. Because there’s still much to do. And that’s a shame.