If one name springs to mind when it comes to high quality, no nonsense adventures, that name is Jack Lockerby of River Software. Jack's latest game, The Dark Tower, is all about orcs, magic and the fight between good (in the guise of man) and evil (as portrayed by all manner of orcs and other nasty entrail-eating critters). When the game starts you find yourself in a forest with the task of retrieving various artifacts stolen from a monastery by the orcs as they rampaged throughout the land. Actually, the orcs have largely been defeated by the forces of good, it's just the odd band of them that are sending the crime figures soaring in your area.
Orcs, especially when they've had their butts kicked, are dangerous creatures. As they make their way back to their lair, the dark tower, they leave behind heaps of traps and nasty surprises for you to wander blindly into. Having said that, all the problems you do have to overcome are well signposted. On your travels you'll discover a rather magical black sack, a giant ladybird, a gorgeous horse with a hole in its head (it's not really, it's something far more mystical and mythical), a rather handy loom which enables you to create a spectacular garment, and a whole host of other classic fantasy items to locate, manipulate and just generally have a good time with.
The first half of the game is spent almost exclusively solving minor problems which lead to major ones which, in turn, lead to the discovery of other important objects or useful information. After the 50% mark is reached things get pretty tricky as you'll have travelled from the pleasant countryside where you're free to wander around gaining experience, into the realms of darkness. The dark tower of the games title is a formidable fortress indeed! Orcs abound, as do guard dogs and other lurking nasties. Here you'll find the stolen artifacts that you seek, mostly guarded by mystical means and fiendish traps which take some beating I can tell you.
It's difficult to fault the game really, and I give it full marks on all fronts, though I must take a hundredth of a point off for the rather tricky chance/real time encounter with some orc guards towards the latter stages which had me stuck for ages. Overall though it's a rip roaring fantasy romp that should find its way into your collection as soon as possible!
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