Retro Mini: Dungeon Quest

Factfile
Developed by: Image Tech
Released: 1989
Format played: Amiga 500

A bit of a cheat this week. This mini review is taken from a feature on the games bundle that came with my beloved Amiga. Read the full feature here.

What Is It

There aren’t many games that I can say took me over 20 years to finish but that description fits the bill with this.

Coded by Image Tech, the player takes on the role of a hardy adventure, dumped in the middle of a forest and tasked with uncovering the mystery of the sleepy village.

It’s an old fashioned text adventure at heart with the player entering simple commands into the parser (such as ‘Go East’ or ‘Take rock’) to navigate your way around the environments and solve simple puzzles. A touch of flourish comes with a series of still images and some mood music that help bring the story to life.

To be honest it’s awful, touching on every conceivable trope in the genre. Much of it is done with a knowing wink, the script churning out comments like, ‘This is a really typical small village, highly suitable for an adventure game.’ Some low brow toilet humour can also be found by typing crude comments into the parser, although mostly you’ll just be met with a rather dry, ‘That doesn’t work.’

If you know what you’re doing, this is a night’s work at best. So how come it took 20+ years?

I played this extensively as a kid, roping in the entire family, plus visiting aunts and uncles to try and finish it, but alas we became stuck in a bizarre room with a man cowering in the corner. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were about three screens from the end, unable to conjure the exact phrasing required to move the adventure forward (our repeated bellows of ‘QUESTION THE MAN’ falling on deaf ears).

All these years later, having finally finished the thing, it was inevitably all a bit of a letdown.

But to the uninitiated, is this worth a visit? Not really. There is no great excitement in the story, the tone is all over the place, the script tries far too hard to be clever at the expense of building atmosphere. There are too many locations that promise intrigue but don’t actually deliver anything whilst the ending is weak in the extreme.

It was a personal, sentimental thrill to finish this. For everyone else, this is one to avoid.

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