Demoniak. (computer game) (Evaluation)
by Richard Rapp
In today's world of full-color graphic adventure games, an old-fashioned text game appears out of place. It would seem more at home in a museum next to a dinosaur display than on the new releases shelf at your local computer store. But Palace Software's Demoniak proves that text adventures aren't quite ready to follow those reptilian giants into oblivion.
Created by British author Alan Grant, who has worked on such popular comic books as Batman, The Punisher, and Judge Dredd, Demoniak takes you on an interplanetary quest filled with humor and plenty of science fiction high adventure. Your mission sends you in search of a way to close a gateway into our universe, thereby foiling the planned invasion by the Hoards of Demoniak.
And just who is Demoniak, you ask? Simply put, Demoniak embodies evil, and he wants to destroy the good parts of our universe. Fortunately, your quest isn't alone.
Your motley group of adventurers includes Sondra Houdini, radical feminist and worldclass psychic; Madlok, a powerful sorcerer and suspected serial killer; Flame, a pyrokinetic and frustrated superheroine; and Doctor Cortex, supergenius and possible cause of the imminent invasion.
Proteus, the world's first living spaceship, provides your transportation. Most of the time, you play the role of Johnny Sirius, a human-alien halfbreed and the star of the world's most popular television show, "Man Alone."
British-based Palace Software spawned this engaging epic via its new Pure Fiction adventure game system. Whereas most text adventures present you with a set story line, this system simulates a world which the player can freely explore.
Independent, artificially intelligent characters populate the world, constantly interacting with each other and with you. They all have unique personalities, and their attitudes change according to the game's events. Even the members of your own party maintain their independence, refusing to slavishly follow your orders. In fact, they won't listen to you much at all until you have earned their trust.
Another of the Pure Fiction system's unique features allows you to switch characters anythime you want. In something like the adventure game world's version of possession, you literally jump from one character to another, seeing the world through the new character's eyes and retaining any and all of his special abilities.
This definitely adds a new strategic dimension to the game, forcing you to decide not only where to go and what to do, but also who it is most advantageous to be. The only characters I've found that you can't become are Proteus and Demoniak.
The two main drawbacks of text adventures have always been their heavy dependence on keyboard input and their limited parsers. Due to Demoniak's traditional keyboard interface, you can't count on much relief from finger fatigue. For the nontouch-typists among us, such adventure games always present difficulty. When it comes to parsers, however, Demoniak illustrates just how far computers have come toward understanding standard English.
Demoniak understands a relatively large vocabulary and handles complex and even recursive sentences. You won't often find yourself rewording and retyping your commands; it usually understands you the first time.
Despite the heavy typing requirement, Demoniak still earns top marks, especially with those who lament the passing of the keyboard as the input device of choice.
Here the strong cast of characters, witty story line, and intriguing new features combine to create an entertaining game in a genre many had written off as dead. Demoniak proves there's still some life in those old bones.