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Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
Baf's Guide ID: 82
A treasure hunt set against, of all things, Hamlet. Not all that Shakespearean, really - the major characters from the play are present, but their function is limited to blocking doorways until you give them the right item. Knowledge of the play makes a few of the puzzles easier, but mostly it's just a treasure hunt set in and around a Danish castle. Frequent randomized combat and several mazes, although even in the mazes most connections between rooms are logical. Some fairly obscure puzzles and an extremely obscure riddle in the endgame. Lots of purely decorative rooms.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
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Despite the author's name at the top of this particular game it seems to have been written by Dian Crayne, a prolific science fiction and text adventure author who released several games in the early eighties under the Temple and Norell Data Systems software labels.
Most of the games use a structure akin to the old Colossal Cave game, with a thief (masquerading as a swordsman here) a pirate (a seaman in this particular game) several mazes and randomised combat, in this case noblemen instead of dwarves. Keep on the move and you should be able to avoid any bloodletting on your part.
Castle Elsinore was the last of Dian's games and probably the best. Some others like Granny's Place are unfinishable because of bugs.
The version I played came from 1983 although there is an archived version from 1992.
The quest takes you back to Shakespearean England in 1602 and your task is to collect sixteen treasures while placating various members of the Royal Family and solving a tightly timed endgame.
Mapping is essential as the forest in particular zig zags all over the place and the gardens and cellars are similarly disorientating. It weighs in at over a hundred locations and the descriptions are quite compelling in places. As you solve puzzles, different areas of the castle become linked by hidden passages and moving walls. My particular favourite here is the secret passageway from the King's Chamber to the Maid's Quarters.
You will meet the guilt-ridden King Claudius, a depressed Hamlet, a quidnunc Polonius, what is left of Yorick (alas!) and the Queen amongst other characters. They are however pretty one-dimensional and really only serve as human locked doors to standard puzzles. You also have to commit an act of manslaughter against an individual.
The game has a fairly large inventory limit and a lamp timer, although it can be refilled and should not present a problem.
The hardest puzzles come right at the end, one involving a time delay and another solving an obscure riddle.
I came across a few bugs but nothing that made the game unfinishable. The shopkeeper appears to change sex (although that seems acceptable nowadays!) the SWEEP and CLEAN commands elicit a blank parser response and items dropped in the castle mysteriously reappear in the crotch of a tree in the forest but can't be taken from there. I only came across one object which doesn't seem to play a role in the game.
I played via DOSBox-X which has scope for ten saved game slots and these are necessary as you are likely to die at the tip of a nobleman's sword more than once.
It took me about seven hours playing time to complete and I enjoyed it although as an inveterate map maker that's not surprising. I have only played one other of Dian's games, namely Hermit's Secret and I found Castle Elsinore to be rather easier.
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