DON'T GO ALONE
Ahaunted house sets the perfect stage for adventure. Your heart races; your hair pulls away from your skin; you sweat. What a wonderful feeling.
Accolade's first attempt at role-playing games, Don't Go Alone, is a journey through a haunted house so large that you'll think you're in a mall. Nasty creatures lurk around every corner, down every hall. Some, you can conquer in one battle. Others keep coming back for more.
Patience is the key. You can't finish this game in one sitting; the action isn't very fast-paced, and the interface is sluggish. The story line has great potential, but it unfolds too slowly.
The premise of the game is fertile ground for a good suspense tale. Your grandfather tried to prove that this large house is haunted. In the process, he disappeared into the depths of the old building. On the bottom floor, ten levels away, you'll meet up with the Demon of All Demons. Beat him in battle and your grandfather will go free.
As ghost stories go, this game isn't strong on plot. You move from room to room and, most of the time, at least one monster attacks you. Special weapons and magical chemical concoctions are your only defense. As the levels get deeper, so does the trouble. Besides monsters, you'll encounter other dangers, such as darkness squares and fear squares.
You see the adventure through four characters: a technician, a chemist, a psychic, and a fighter. They start out as beginners, but, as they gain experience, they advance in rank and become more powerful. If you could play an active role in the party, this four-person group would be very interesting. Except for guiding the characters through the mazelike house, however, you aren't directly involved.
You can use a mouse or the keyboard to activate directional icons. This makes it easy to get around the house (it's better than typing text directions). But when it comes to battle, the game's interface isn't very good.
In Don't Go Alone, you'll have to deal with a wide variety of surprises.
Battle is dull. You fight by hitting the left-arrow key, or you build a formula by hitting the right-arrow key. There's no skill involved; the game decides if you hit the monster, if you incurred any damage, if you were scared by the monster, and so on.
During fights, the interface is anything but responsive. Offensive actions take several keypresses. In the meantime, the monster is terrifying your other characters, driving them crazy with fear.
If you don't want your characters to go insane with fear, you must spend a lot of lime waiting for their fear levels to decrease. To calm them down, you can either brew up some antifear potions or sit and wait until the yellow fear bar sinks to 0, which slows down the game even more.
All in all, Don't Go Alone lacks the element of surprise. Even when I ran into new puzzles and new frights, I didn't have that fearful thrill that leaps from a good ghost story.
But what it lacks in thrills, Don't Go Alone makes up for in intricacy and depth. You can explore for hours and hours. You make progress, so—once you realize that success isn't represented by dramatic victories—you don't get frustrated. The maze is quite involved, with one-way doors and camouflaged secret passages. As your characters build strength, you'll see them improve as monster killers.
People who enjoy role-playing games a lot will welcome Accolade to the flock of software companies that produce role-playing adventures. Newcomers to the role-playing arena will enjoy the game because the graphics presentation isn't as intimidating as the text adventures of the old days.
Don't Go Alone suffers from a slow-moving plot, but if you're content with just exploring the house, the adventure will come to you.
HEIDI E. H. AYCOCK
IBM PC and compatibles—$39.95
550 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Joss, CA 95128