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text adventure

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Behold - Atlantis, by Laurence Creighton

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Retro fun beneath the waves, July 19, 2020
by ChrisM (Cambridge, UK)
Related reviews: Zenobi, 8-bit, retro, text adventure

A fairly typical Quilled text adventure from legendary ZX Spectrum publisher Zenobi. This one is set on the Greek island of Thira, putative location of the Atlantis of fable, where you have decided to go on holiday and accidentally stumble upon a fabulous underwater kingdom during a quick dip in the sea just down the road from your hotel room. It's a fun little run-around with some amusing writing in the usual droll style of 8-bit text adventures. Thira itself is a small but lively place, populated mainly by shifty mule-vendors and sandal-proffering youths who are just after your trousers, whereas Atlantis itself is so sedate that most of the inhabitants have fallen into suspended animation! But in spite of that, there is still some puzzly fun to be had if you're looking for a retro-flavoured diversion to fill an hour or two.

The parser is more or less what you would expect for a game from this era: mostly two-word, with a couple of occasions where a multi-word input is required. There are the standard 'guess the verb' frustrations in a few places (although the right words are not that difficult to work out, for those players gifted with more than minimal patience), and a couple of unexpected sudden death scenarios (I was arrested for (Spoiler - click to show)indecent exposure in one instance, and (Spoiler - click to show)burnt my feet on a hot beach in another. Part of the normal daily routine for the average British holiday-maker, but seemingly enough to make you give up your quest for Atlantis in this game). Naturally, this being a classic text adventure, you have to spend a lot of time examining objects and locations, most of which yield nothing much but occasionally prove essential to completing the game. If youíre feeling really lazy then you might need to glance at a walk-through, but there is nothing too perplexing involved here and there is even the (very occasional) built-in HELP prompt to assist with the more obscure puzzles. The ending feels a bit as though the author is running out of ideas, with the Atlantan royal family snoozing in rooms next to one another (yet desperate to be reunited) and separated by a slightly odd locked door puzzle. But that doesn't really matter as the player has probably had enough by that point and the end is in sight! And duly arrives, after a rather pointless-seeming return to your starting point.

Judged by the standards of the time and taken on its own terms, this isnít a bad little game at all and should certainly provide a brief and mildly fantastic diversion for players interested in such retro stuff.

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