Psychic Solar War Adventure
In a world controlled by an alien force, a twin brother and sister decide to take on the powers that be.
That's where you come in. The game places you on a (nicely animated) map, close to the town of Fish. From here, you can wander about as you please.
Psychic Solar War Adventure has the gameplay of a console RPG. It uses several engines, one to determine the status of the two members of your party, one to move your party around on the map, or in a location you need to explore, and another for to sort out the battles. And all this machinery works smoothly.
On the map, you will encounter monsters of all sorts. You will gain experience and money by defeating them. There are several locations on the map that you can explore. Most of them are caves. They harbour hidden treasure, but also monsters in their local habitat.
In the castle or any of the towns, you will meet people who will give you advice or a chance to go on a small side-quest. You can get healed, you can buy rations, or a new weapon, from time to time.
The game is somewhat nonlinear. You can choose where you want to go, there is no determined order in which you have to explore the caves. Yet, you do not have immediate access to all locations, so in some cases you need to buy an object or finish a quest in order to move on.
The graphics are good. Better yet: original. The animations give the game a well-groomed look.
Regarding the story: it's there to a small extent. The intro is nice and it states a purpose, making your goal clear from the beginning. There are no twists in the story and there is no actual building of character. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just makes the game what it is: a good-looking, well-executed, straight-forward RPG.
This game is essentially a showpiece for a reusable RPG fighting engine. I'm pretty sure I've seen one of these in another ZZT game before, but this is definitely the best ZZT fighting engine I've seen.
Commodore has added a significant amount of variation to the engine: two characters with a handful of commands, health that is stored in counters, a diminishing food supply, magic spells, upgradeable equipment, and level accumulation, all spread across multiple dungeon areas and several hundreds of randomised fights. It actually feels like you're playing an RPG, and not just an interactive story with some staple fights thrown in for good measure; that's pretty hard to do in ZZT.
The art, #change cycles and music are all good -- I especially like the title screen and the snowy town. Enemies are drawn with objects and look pretty fly. Most dungeons have a "fork in the road" mentality, with one route being a shortcut and the other being longer and having a treasure chest. One section that made me laugh was crawling down a long hallway to get a treasure chest, only to receive the same amount of food it takes to travel there and back.
The biggest snag in the game is that if you're not lucky, you will be doing a lot of restoring old files after you die. Even if you are lucky, you will still be doing a lot of restoring. But once you get to a reasonable level this becomes less of a problem and you can focus on simple strategies for keeping the characters alive.
I think this is a pretty cool addition to the archive, and it deserves a small review at the very least.
Reviewed: Apr 2, 2023
Rating: out of 5.0 This user has opted out of providing a numeric rating