Sunday, 1 November 2009
Eye of the Beholder
[Eye of the Beholder box art via Wikipedia]
This classic game comes up in conversations every now and again, and for a few reasons. Eye of the Beholder dates back to 1990, running in DOS prior to other ports - I wonder if I will be able to get it on the iPhone anytime soon...
Anyhow, for its time, the graphics was pretty good (scary looking at them now) and we had this virtual 3D world, well a simplistic turn-based grid rendered to look a little 3D anyhow. Here are a few screenshots of the game:
[screenshots from Eye of the Beholder assembled from multiple sources]
There are several reasons I like to reference the game, apart from some fond memories of lots of hours playing. One of the elements of the game involved collecting keys to open doors, esp for a sequence at the end and while a fine mechanic, if you get to the end and start unlocking doors to find that you need 4 silver keys and only collected 3, then you were stuffed. The idea of going back through the whole dungeon hunting for another key was silly, so you would just give up - maybe start again. It had quite a good level of re-playability actually.
The main feature to note for me was the level with the spiders. Here you had a maze of tunnels with spiders moving around in them. The spiders had a poison attack that was very deadly, so you start with a certain amount of apprehension. Then as you (and the spiders) move around in single turns you can hear the spiders, through the walls or down the corridors. This made for a truly exciting experience, you were nervous about going around corners (2 turns) and a T-junction was scary because it took a turn to move forward a turn to look left and then 2 more turns to look the other way. All this time the clicking of the spiders would get louder and louder.
This is one of the best examples of building tension using very simple mechanics. If we leap waaay forward to doom3 we get a similar effect with much greater visual impact with the flashlight.
There were some nice features, you could assemble a party of 4 at the outset and have other characters join you as you went along. I remember even making a party of 4 paladins who stomped merrily around the spider level with their immunity to poison.