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Armaeth: The Lost Kingdom

Reviewed by  Wendy Mann


Introduction

Woodpile with the fire in the background.Armaeth is a very enjoyable 1993 traditional point-and-click adventure game.  Hence you can expect 'old-style', like the Kings Quest series.  The game is great fun and surprisingly rich in features and clever design, many of which are not immediately apparent.  The first level’s layout was, however, designed without regard for logical geography, but once you figure out what connects to what, this is not a problem (and there are maps available together with the walkthrough on this website).  And the geography in the other levels is perfectly logical.

For anyone who enjoyed Kings Quest, Day of the Tentacle and the like, this game will probably appeal to you.  The quality of the game is surprisingly good, except for a couple of technical hiccups mentioned further below.  I can happily recommend this game to any point-and-click Adventure Game fan.  Personally I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it surprisingly addictive:  you keep wanting to come back to it make progress and to discover more.

The game itself includes a separate Hints File in hierarchical structure (i.e. you drill down for further levels of hints).  The Hints File has been typed out and is available at this website, as is also the comprehensive walkthrough with maps.

Story

Armaeth was the King of the Dwarf Kingdom.  The dwarves and elves were allies.  Menankar, Master of dark forces and evil creatures, coveted Armaeth’s wealth and sent an invading army of evil creatures to conquer Armaeth’s kingdom, but was eventually defeated by the dwarves and elves.  The dwarves and elves hid to recover in a secret kingdom, Dol Armaeth.  You are Killian, an adventurer looking for glory (and loot?).  Hence you are looking for the secret entrance to the coveted kingdom of Dol Armaeth.

DOSBox Needed

Sarhuls guard the large stone door.If you play this old DOS game on a modern PC, you will need to use the latest version of DOSBox.  The game may appear to play okay without DOSBox, but you will come to some areas that are impossible without DOSBox (e.g. climbing down the well), so it is better to use DOSBox from the start.

Interface

Armaeth is a 3rd person, 2D, point-and-click adventure, so it has the usual kind of interface one can expect with this type of game:  i.e. icons (look, pick up/drop, etc), hot spots, arrow keys or walk icon for movement, etc.  The game is somewhat non-linear:  you can wander about and explore freely within a level, but of course with certain places you cannot pass until you have done certain actions or found certain items.

Use F1 for a single Help screen.  The controls can be a bit confusing at first, and there are many icons available, in 3 'layers' (they are described for you in the walkthrough on this website).  Commands are given by using the game’s icons or by typing commands (e.g. 'look in hole' or click the eye-icon on the hole).  As with all parsers (text-handlers), you have to use the correct words and phrases by observing descriptions and then typing certain of those exact terms/words as an appropriate command, etc.

There is an icon at the left top of the game screen that you can click to get a description when you encounter a new screen.  There is another icon, at the right top, which cycles you through the 3 'rows' of different icons.  And there are text screens that give you feedback when you click an icon on something or have entered a command, so it is always easy to read what is going on.

The inventory can hold many items, but you can only see 12 items on screen.  The others 'scroll' off screen as you add more items to inventory, but you can still use them by typing the action that you want to carry out (e.g. 'drop wood', even if the wood is off-screen in the inventory).

Music and sound effects can be toggled on and off.

The number of saves seems to be unlimited up to 999, which is much more than enough.  I had more than 160 saves by the time I had finished the game, and I had saved frequently.

Graphics, Music, Sound Effects

The very hungry bear and its cave.The graphics are excellent for the era, given the age of the game.  Some of the screens are very pretty, and some are very 'atmospheric'.

The music is satisfying and changes according to the area you are in, but some people will find the repetitiveness irritating and would prefer to toggle it off.  One would not be likely to want to toggle the sound effects off as well though.  I actually enjoyed the different music sequences and sound effects, even on re-playing the game.

Sound effects are fairly limited, but satisfying (e.g. 'tahdah' when you earn certain significant points, or birds chirping, etc).  And I loved the deep ponderous 'bear music' whenever the bear appeared.

Speech is non-existent.  Everything is conveyed via text boxes, which is perfectly sensible given the age of the game, and lack of speech does not detract from the game.

Puzzles and Gameplay

The puzzles are typical of a point-and-click adventure game.  Some of them require very good reasoning, and although a walkthrough is available if you really get stuck solid, it is far more fun to try to work them out for yourself.

The puzzles consist mainly of:

The Dwarves' Guardroom, they guard the large steel door.The challenge level / difficulty ranges from easy to medium-high, in my opinion.  There is one above surface mini-maze (actually careful path-choosing), and also a short mines maze that can be tricky because the screens are identical (but there is a map with the walkthrough if you get stuck, so save your game before entering the mines maze).

There is a quite difficult sequence where you have to do something while avoiding 4 enemies on screen, but if you observe movement patterns and are patient, you will be able to manage it after several attempts.  But if you really cannot do it at all, there is a saved game available via the walkthrough on this website.

You do not need keyboard gymnastics, just careful / intelligent timing and simple use of the arrow keys on the keyboard in sequences such as the 4 enemies mentioned above.

You can die frequently in the game, so you will probably need to save often!!!  However most of the death scenes are amusing, so it is often worth dying just for the fun of it.

Scoring...  There are 3 sets of scores in the game:  game points (action points), treasure/fortune points, and merchandise points.  Hit the F6 key or click on the 'moneybag' icon to see your current scores and game status.

Longevity...  The game is a relatively long one for its era, and there are lots of enjoyable features and little touches to discover, so it keeps 'calling you back' to continue with the game.  However you would probably only want to play it once or twice.  I am actually going back for a fourth time myself, both for the enjoyment and to try to find our few missing points (see table in the walkthrough).

Bugs? / Compatibility Problems

No telling what Killian might find in the woods.Some players experienced the following hiccups.  I am not sure whether they are bugs or compatibility problems on modern PCs, even under DOSBox.  But I was not using the latest version of DOSBox, which might have prevented the problems if I had used it for all I know:

A further issue, but not a significant problem, is erratic 'maximum scores' (i.e. the maximum jumps up further at certain stages of the game!), but your actual game scores are perfectly accurate.  The correct maximum scores are shown at the end of the walkthrough.  Remember that actual treasure scores and merchandise scores will go down if you drop anything.  But if you pick it up later, the score goes back up again (which is perfectly logical).

Conclusion

I personally recommend this game highly, but the 'bugs' mentioned above might put some people off a little.  The game is excellent fun, it is cleverly designed, and very satisfying to play.  The 'Whoooooeeee' feeling that you get when you solve a tricky puzzle is most satisfying.  Try to play it without the walkthrough, even though eventually you may need to resort to the walkthrough at certain points.

All in all, a lovely and satisfying old DOS game indeed!


©  November 2007  Wendy Mann


The Throne Room, but why is no one on the throne?
Full View Screenshot


Developed (1993) by  Real World Software  and published by  Grandslam Video.


Not Rated:  (little blood, mild violence)


Minimum System Requirements:  DOS  Available on 3.25 Inch High Density (1.44 MB) Disks and CD-ROM.


Where To Buy This Game:


Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Wendy Mann's Walkthrough" available here!

"Game Hints File" available here!



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