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One Dark Night
Paul Brunyee £3.00 Dec 1988 YS36
8
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Mike Gerrard
This adventure by Paul Brunyee is more home-grown than most as he's written it all himself in assembly language. That alone makes it worth a look these days! Paul's system allows for multiple inputs, recognition of ALL/IT/AND/THEN and commands like RAMSAVE - though you've only got four of these in any one playing session.
    The title tells you what it's about - yes yet another dark and stormy night and you and your companion are travelling across unfamiliar moorland looking for shelter for the evening when a flash of lightning topples a tree that falls and bars your way. The keys are stuck in the ignition, the car won't start, and there seems nothing for it but to get out and explore the dark driveway that you can just make out in the gloom... there must be a house of some kind at the end of it, right? Right, and we all know what kind of house it'll be when you get there! We've seen all the Hammer Horror films, so no points for plot originality here.
    The adventures quite well done, though, with an interesting start as you choose whether to be Jon Howes or Ann Miles, the two people in the car. Whichever you choose, your partner tags along with you and will (surprise, surprise) occasionally be needed to help with some of the problems. Yes, there in the opening location, alongside the car jack, was my companion Ann. EXAMINE ANN. "You see nothing of any great interest." How unkind!
    The text of this text-only game is better than average, and the author's obviously studied at the Colossal Cave School for Adventure Writers. At the end of the drive is a porch lit by a flickering and smoking oil lamp, and on the front door is a heavy brass knocker in the shape of a coffin. Before grabbing the knocker, a search of the grounds is advisable, and then, "as you touch the brass knocker you realise you have activated some kind of mechanism. A tiny arm emmerges [sic] from the coffin and delivers three stout knocks upon the door. Presently the door is opened by a tall sombre fellow sporting a dinner jacket with a prominent forehead and receding hairline." Funny looking dinner jacket, and just when the prose was going well, too!
    That sample of text sums up the game for me. A lot of good things about it, but often let down by slight errors. Maybe a spelling mistake, or a fault with the quite good parser, for example READ BOOK produces "You read the bookcase." You can't GET ARMOUR but you can WEAR ARMOUR. Trying to move a barrel is tricky, too. PUSH BARREL. "You can't push that." PUSH BARREL WITH ANN. "You can't push that" ANN PUSH BARREL. "Ann is not listening" ANN PUSH BARREL WITH ME. Success! And it was only when I asked Ann to drop everything (well, I was getting bored) that I discovered she had a metal comb with her. The commands ANN INVENTORY and INVENTORY ANN had no effect.
    For all its little faults, the game does have a lot going for it. It's sizeable, with wide range of problems, a fast response and some good ideas too, like a sensible HELP feature. There are better and cheaper home-grown games around, but if you've got three quid to spare then this'll pass several dark nights for you quite pleasantly, I'm sure. It made me look forward to Paul Brunyee's next effort, to which I'm sure he'll give a better final polish.

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