Deathtrap Dungeon

Dom Robinson reviews

Ian Livingstone’s
Deathtrap Dungeon
for PC CD-Rom
Red Lotus
Distributed by
Eidos Interactive LimitedDD Pic

  • Price: £39.99
  • Players : Single Player – 1;
    Multi-Player network – up to 8
  • System Requirements :
    • Windows 95
    • Pentium PC 90 Mhz (166 Mhz recommended)
    • 16Mb RAM (32Mb RAM recommended)
    • Graphics card capable of 16bit colour at 640 * 480
    • 120 Mb Hard Drive space
    • Dual-speed (2x) CD-ROM Drive
      (Quad speed (4x) recommended)
    • DirectX 5.2 (included on CD)
    • Microsoft-compatible mouse
    • Windows-compatible soundcard
  • Also supports :
    • All Major Graphics Cards
    • All Major Joysticks

    Deathtrap Dungeonis the computer game version of Ian Livingstone‘sclassic role-playing game book. In paper form the Fighting Fantasy Gamebookswere an instant hit in the mid-late 1980’s kicking off as a joint collaborationbetween Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson with The Warlock of FiretopMountain.

    A total of 51 books have been released in this series including The CitadelOf Chaos, The Forest Of Doom and Starship Traveller as well as anumber of spinoffs and novels. Deathtrap Dungeon was the sixth in theFighting Fantasy Gamebook series and it makes you wonder why the series hasn’tbeen brought to the computer screen before.

    Deathtrap Dungeon – The Beginning

    Fang, the Town Of Lost Souls, once known as the Town Of Plenty is ruled withan iron fist by the tyrant Byron Sukumvit. Deep in the hillside overlookingFang, he built a labyrinth of trap-filled passageways and rooms populated bystomach-churning creatures of evil. He named it Deathtrap Dungeon.

    All those who opposed him were despatched to the dungeon. None came out alive.Yet the Baron was a gambling man at heart and loved notoriety. He let it beknown that anybody in the lands beyond Fang would be welcome to enter thedungeon of their own free will. If they killed the supreme beast – Melkor TheRed Dragon – and came out alive he would offer a purse of 10,000 gold piecesand the freedom of the town of Fang.

    The first year, seventeen brave warriors attempted “The Walk” as it later cameto be known. Not one reappeared. Now you have decided that you will attempt”The Walk”.

    Deathtrap Dungeon – The Quest

    Your quest is to slay Melkor The Red Dragon and get out of the dungeon alive!As you progress deeper into the dungeon, you will need to collect all theweapons and magics you can to aid you.

    You begin the game at the start of the first level, The Spire. As you completeeach level you will be given a summary of your performance and a short missingbriefing on what you need to do to finish the next level. You have the choiceof one of two characters to help you complete your quest – the heroine, RedLotus (pictured above), or the hero, Chaindog.

    Put simply, you’ll come across three doors in each level which require keys:one red, one silver and one gold. Get the keys, open the doors and exit to thenext level. Sounds easy, but if you think it is then you clearly have playedthe game yet.

    Installing and Running the Game

    Installation is simple. When in Windows 95, inserting the CD will autorun theinstallation process. If you do not have autoplay set up for CDs, then runthe ‘setup.exe’ file.

    You will then be able to select the various graphics and sound set-up options.If you have a 3Dfx card it will be automatically selected as all major cardsare supported. If it isn’t supported, or you install a new card after installingthe game, it can be selected from the Deathtrap Dungeon Configuration optionvia the Windows 95 start menu. The game will take up approximately 120 Mb ofhard drive space but you will need to keep the CD in CD-ROM drive while playingthe game.

    Playing the Game

    In-game Controls

    The four cursor keys control the main characters with the rest consisting ofkeys to attack, action, cast spells, run or slow down. All are redefinablethough and I set mine close to the controls I use for Quake II/Unreal/TombRaider II. Keys F1-F4 bring up menus for Close Combat and Ranged Weapons,Spells and Potions.

    Main Menu

    Restore Game

    Returns you to the game in progress.

    New Game

    Allows a choice of New Game, which either starts a new one-player game orallows to you re-play any of the levels already completed; or a MultiplayerGame which can accommodate up to eight players.

    Load Game

    Loads any of the previously-saved games.

    Save Game

    This saves your position at certain points in the game when you come across asave-game portal. There are two types – white and red. You can save at anywhite portal, but saving at a red one is going to cost you a number of goldcoins!


    Options available for configuring the graphics and sound to your specificationsas well as sorting out the keyboard/joystick/mouse control and any specifichardware configurations, all done in a very humourous way.

    Graphics, Sound and Playability

    The graphics look very good, especially if you have a 3Dfx card which is fastbecoming a necessity these days to bring out the crisp graphics and detailedlocations. However, the graphics engine used appears to be the same used byDie By The Sword which results in the game appearing to move in aslightly jerky fashion, rather than the fluid movement of another, well-known,third-person arcade adventure, Tomb Raider II. On the plus side, thegame runs very quickly with no slow-down at all in terms of the frame rate,but if, like me, you’re too used to the smooth style of the Lara Croft gameyou’ll feel there’s something not quite right.

    Also, the third-person perspective sometimes views battles a number of positionsincluding behind your character, behind the enemy or to the side of both, soyou can’t always see the enemy you’re fighting. This, too, is reminiscent ofDie By The Sword. On the plus side, at times there’s a hint ofResident Evil II about it as the viewpoint switches to a camerapositioned high above, although in this game the camera follows you about,unlike the fixed viewpoint of the aforementioned zombie-blaster.

    The music and sound effects set the ambience very well and there’s some nicebone-crunching sounds as you hack away at your opponents, or – as I found outonce – when a portcullis falls on your head when you don’t quite get throughin time. This is, naturally, followed by a blood-curdling scream!

    The playability is also similar to Die By The Sword with the extracamera movement being a bit off-putting at first. You do get more used to itas you play on but it remains slightly annoying. It’s a shame there isn’t afirst-person perspective option as this is really needed for combat moments.

    But I want more !!

    Then you can have more! Deathtrap Dungeon comes in the form of a LimitedEdition boxset which not only contains this game and a graphically-elaboratemanual (The Bestiary) describing the quest and detailing the heroes and everyenemy, but also the Fighting Fantasy Gamebook from which the game originated aswell as a Deathtrap Dungeon card game for 4 to 8 players.

    Kelly PicOverall

    Overall this is a fairly entertaining game, which will allow many gamers tobring back an element of their teenage years. The game is also verywell-packaged since it contains the aforementioned extra book and card game.

    I’d certainly like to see a sequel to Deathtrap Dungeon. After all,there’s at least another 50 possibilities so far! However, I’d like to seethe game engine re-written to appear more like Tomb Raider II, if it’sa third-person game, or Quake II / Unreal if a first-person perspectiveis chosen.

    If you’re wondering who the girl on the right is, it’s supermodel KellyBrook, used to promote the game in the guise of “Red Lotus”. She featuresin FHM’s 1998 Top Supermodel list at No. 29, as well as appearing in thecurrent “Sure” adverts alongside Jonathon Ross as “Nicky, with the ticky!”

    If you’re after some more info on Eidos Interactive’s games, you can checkout their official Website orwww.deathtrapdungeon.comGRAPHICS : ***SOUND EFFECTS AND MUSIC: ***½PLAYABILITY: ***ORIGINALITY : ***ENJOYMENT : ***——————————-OVERALL : ***

    Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 1998.

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