Pool of Radiance

Title		Pool of Radiance
Game Type	RPG
Company		SSI
Players		1
Compatibility	Most Amigas
Submission	ronny@tmx.com.au

Pool of Radiance was one of the first "Gold Box" role playing games, and
was set in the AD&D "Forgotten Realms" world. Its interface was clunky,
its graphics were primitive... but the gameplay was absorbing.

You start with a small, first-level party of six adventurers, with a
commission to clean out the streets of New Phlan. The first few battles are
absurdly difficult, even though the monsters you battle are quite weak
(kobolds and goblins); as you build up experience, things get easier -
but you also start coming up against tougher monsters, building up to
a final confrontation with the evil guy behind it all...

The game has an intriguing plot, built up gradually, and a well-paced
series of encounters. The automap function is not terribly useful (which
is true of most Gold Box games).

While PoR is sold as a role-playing game, it actually plays more like a
series of small strategy scenarios; you have a certain number of characters,
with certain capabilities, who have to battle a series of enemies with
their own distinct capablities. Sometimes one enemy *must* be killed first -
like a basilisk.

Gameplay is generally more enjoyable than the later Gold Box games, possibly
because your lower-level characters are more vulnerable. However, the
interface is a real pain in the neck; if you want to heal your party, you
need to cast heal spells repeatedly. (Later games added a facility to
do this in one command.)

In the end, the interface very nearly kills the game; with a decent
interface, it would rival most modern RPGs for gameplay. The need to
laboriously cast and rememorise spells damages the game almost beyond
recovery if you're used to more modern RPGs.

One good thing about Pool of Radiance is that, if you are so inclined, you
can carry your characters on to the later games in the series (particularly
Curse of the Azure Bonds.) Unfortunately, you aren't warned that most
multi-class characters are severely limited in their maximum levels, so
this facility is less useful than you would like...

Overall, considering the interface, PoR is perhaps a 6/10 game these days.
With a good interface, it would be a nine, but such is not to be...

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