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The Essential Myth
Adventure: Text
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

Today we announce a small sensation on the adventure pages of Your Sinclair - the first ever (I think) 10/10 mark, for the text of this Jekyll And Hyde adventure. But what else could you give it when the original's written by Robert Louis Stevenson, who's a cut above most adventure-game authors, and his words have been brilliantly adapted by Essential Myth to produce a great Gothic adventure that outdoes Dracula, Frankenstein and even Jack The Ripper.

I had an exclusive preview of the first part of this three-parter back in the January issue, and now that the whole game's done, it more than lives up to the high expectations I had of it - and of the type of adventures we'd see written using Gilsoft's PAW in the hands of capable programmers. First a note about the different versions. The 48K version which I played, comes in three separate parts, a password being earned at the end of each part to enable you to load in the next one. The 128K tape version will also come in three parts, each one being expanded to the full capacity of the bigger machine. The basic game will be the same but there'll be more location graphics, more examine messages, extended text, more sophisticated non-playing characters and alternative ways of solving puzzles. The +3 version will be identical, just bunged onto a disk. All come with a 16-page booklet introducing this 'Gothic Nightmare'.

The nightmare in question is that of the mild-mannered Dr Jekyll who, by the end of the first part, should have concocted a potion that turns him into the evil Mr Hyde who stalks the streets of London by night. Part two begins with your butler Poole ushering your legal friend Mr Utterson into your study - that's if you want to see him. Part of the game is in deciding which course of action to take sometimes. If you see him you'll discover that you have decided to change your will in favour of one Edward Hyde. A glance at the last page of your diary, written on the fateful night that ended part one, refreshes your mind. "I know now my wildest suppositions are fact and I am filled with a deadly fear. Yet what can go amiss? None can pierce the impenetrable mantle of my safety - let me but escape to my laboratory and, whatever he has done, Edward Hyde will pass away like the stain of breath upon a mirror . . . There is but one worry on my brow - I must ensure that Hyde can benefit from my will, should the unthinkable occur."

The subsequent transformation from Jekyll into Hyde is accompanied by a transformation of the typeface too, into a Gothic font that's a bit tricky to read but seems appropriate as Hyde walks the foggy Victorian streets - through Soho and even into a gaming club where a hand of pontoon might net you a few more pounds. (And if that doesn't show you how versatile PAW is then nothing will convince you!)

Sometimes the game can be a bit tricky to play, as it's very sequential in design and you can wind up wandering round totally lost with no alternative but to start again or load up an earlier saved game to see if there's something of significance that you missed, or if a different decision might help you progress. But when things start to go right the story really bursts into life - I reckon you ought to burst into life and buy it right now.