One of the first Commodore 64 games, Sword of Fargoal is a classic Roguelike that was a considerable success for Epyx, although unfortunately with no PC conversion. The premise is quite straightforward: go down into the dungeon to retrieve the Sword of Fargoal – the only weapon that can vanquish the evil Umla. More details from the manual: "You are magically transported into the uppermost level of the dungeon with three things in your possession to aid in your quest: a short sword, a teleport spell, and a healing vial. Hope spurs you on to reach the place in the depths of the dungeon that conceals the magical Sword and to return with it to the stairs out of the mountain vault! The Sword of Fargoal is said to have been placed somewhere between the fifteenth and the twentieth level of the dungeon. If you find it, your quest only becomes more difficult. With the Sword in hand, Umla knows where you are! It would be only a matter of time before he destroys the entire dungeon. For this reason, once you find the goal to your quest, you only have 33 minutes to escape!" |
The gameplay is typical Roguelike, played from a top-down perspective. You gain experience levels (resulting in higher hit points and battle skills) as you kill monsters, and finding new spells and magical items is key to success. The game introduced many features that have been superseded by newer Roguelikes like ADOM, but were very innovative for their time. For example, each level of the dungeon is randomly generated. Every time you enter a new level, you enter an entirely new layout with treasures, monsters, traps, gold, and the temple at a different location. There are many kinds of monsters, some smarter than others. There are hidden treasures, and several kinds of traps. Once a Pit Trap has been sprung, you can use it to climb down to the next level. You can also bait stupid monsters to fall in, if you timing is good enough. You can recuperate faster inside temples, which is also where you can offer gold to the gods in exchange for experience points, The list of fun features goes on and on.
Sword of Fargoal may not look like much now, but it was one of the great, largely forgotten milestones in Roguelike games. It's a lot of fun, and provides a great adrenaline rush when that countdown starts after you get the sword and must get the hell out ;) Two thumbs up, way up.
Reviewed by: Underdogs