Hound of Shadow

Title		Hound of Shadow
Game Type	RPG
Company		EA/Eldritch Games
Released	1989
Players		1
HD Installable  No
Compatibility   ???
Submission	Nick Scott (HP_Lovecraft@hotmail.com)

Usually, I am an extremely picky buyer. I will read reviews, download
demos, and talk to friends. This is especially important with the Amiga
since the difference between a cheap port, and a hardware-basher is very
large indeed.

In the case of "Hound of Shadow", it is the only game I've ever bought
blindly. I am a fan of Lovecraft literature, and bought the game when I
saw his name on the box. As far as I know, it is the first major game
based on his work. I was quite surprised when I got home, and discovered
it's a text-only RPG. I was rather disappointed. I had played ZORK on a
TI99/4A, but didn't expect such low technology on the Amiga. I kept it
though, curious to see how it relates to the books.

The game is set in the 1920s, in England. Like most RPG games, you get to
create a character, except with unusual characteristics. Apart from
strength, you also choose: Social, Investigative, Academic, Logical,
Creative and Spiritual skills. You also choose your profession that ranges
from psychic investigator, to socialite, scholar, adventurer, and a few
others. Essentially, the story is your typical "Detective" story. The game
starts out with a crime, and you basically try and solve it. However,
since this is a "lovecraftian" style game, there is a great deal of occult
influence, including secret-societies, and references to Latin spell
books, and ancient, evil mysteries.

The game itself is pure text-only RPG. Occasionally, a static graphic pops
up, but its usually just a picture of a building, and never useful. These
types of RPGs are rated 2 ways: Plot Depth, and Parser abilities. The
plot itself is pretty linear. The clock is ticking, and you need to
complete certain tasks by specific times, or the game ends. As a result,
the game has limited depth. You can't really go off "exploring" or the
time will run out. Also, the text parser is not very good. As with most
text-only games, the manual only lists a few of the commands. The rest
you have to find out for yourself, which is extremely frustrating.

In fact, I gave up on this game many times because I could not get the
parser to work. It was frustrating, because I knew what I needed to do,
but could not word it correctly for the parser. Eventually, I discovered
a trick. There is a file somewhere on the disk that contains every
command. After I printed that out, the game became 100 times easier, and I
was able to beat the game after a few tries. I've never played the game
since then, so you could argue that "cheating" ruined the game for me.
Maybe, maybe not, but save that method as a last resort.

Ultimately, as far as text-RPG go, it is average. It does not compare to
classics like Zork, or the many modern MUD-based RPGs still being run
today. The only appeal would be to Lovecraft fans, and its value is as a
curiosity for being the first Lovecraft-based computer game, and not the
actual gameplay itself.

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