For those of you who think that a hermit is a gangly green frog in love with Miss Piggy, you're obviously very stupid! A hermit is actually someone who decides to live in solitude. And his abode is thus not a Muppet Theatre but something called a hermitage.
In this homegrown, PA Wed adventure, you are a monk named Ambrose, living in the Dark Ages. He's been putting his feet up in the local monastery for the last twenty years or so. A cushy life you might think, but just recently - and rather belatedly - the Archbishop has decided he should actually do some work. A pilgrimage has been suggested, and not to some dead glam place like Rome or Lourdes. Instead, Ambrose is to toddle up to the local mountains and murder this old hermit. Not very Christian you might think, but in fact during the Dark Ages the Church was really into that sort of thing, what with burning people at the stake, boiling them in oil and drowning old women in rivers, it was virtually the peak of religious activity in Europe. And a sad consequence of all this was that the dead peoples' property had no-one to look after it, forcing the Church to take it over…
According to the Archbishop, the hermit must be killed because he's an incarnation of our old friend Beelzebub. In all probability he probably just holds a few wild parties now and again, to break the tedium. But still, Ambrose is far from keen on this pilgrimage idea. Anyway, he sets off with no possessions and apparently wearing nothing - obviously a bad habit to get into (groan - Ed). This is where the game begins and it's a good idea to swiftly return to the monastry for some objects to help you on your quest. Unfortunately, during your brief absence the monastry has been ransacked and the Archbishop killed. Even more spine-chilling, all the dead bodies have been drained of blood.
After gathering a few things it's out of there as fast as possible, even if the only road takes you toward the mountains. First stop is a strange village where the villagers are tying young women to hat stacks and setting them alight, while copulation is going on in the street !rot another Acid House party scandal!). Being a saintly soul, or even if the reverse, it's a good idea to save a young woman if you want to progress in the game.
Once you've escaped from the village you soon come across a small hut which deserves investigation. Inside is another beautiful lady, sprawled across the bed and obviously in need of spiritual guidance from you. Furthermore, she wants you to kiss her (this Ambrose chappie must be the monasterial equivalent of Richard Gere), but unfortunately she has a fetish for draining the blood from her lovers!
Clearly The Hermitage's authors have set out to shock and, although there's no bad language present, this is what they achieve. The shock value derives mainly from the adventure setting, however, there's only a few outrageous scenes, none of which could provide much competition for a typical Hammer horror film on TV. And just like those feeble horror movies the plot in this adventure is weak, consisting of a hotchpotch of unconnected places and ideas which don't gel together. Deprived of any kind of effective mystical atmosphere the 'shocking' scenes are simply amusing.
On the technical side the game is much better with useful VOCAB and RooM commands. The +3 version features some excellent, and completely innocuous colour pictures, loaded in when they're needed. +3 owners also get a free, humorous adventure, Teacher Trouble.
Hopefully these technical talents will be put to use in a better adventure next time as The Hermitage wastes them. 'Shock ' scenes cannot compensate for a feeble plot, and with only a few problems needing to be solved to complete it this is a disappointment.
The Hermitage is available direct from Pegasus Developments (cheques payable to Tom Collins) at 760 Tyburn Rd, Erdington, BIRMINGHAM B24 9NX.
First, the facts. The Hermitage is the first release by the Pegasus Developments team. It's got full text 'n' pix on the +3 (which is being reviewed), with a lengthy text-only version for 128K machines and your basic bog-standard text-only job in 48K. The +3 disk uses the 'B' side to store and call up the graphics, and these are beautifully done in full-colour, putting Level 9's recent Lancelot attempts to shame. Take a bow, Peter Collins. There's even a bonus adventure on the disk, Teacher Trouble, and, despite being set in a school like hundreds of others, it's better than most and won me over at the point where the hero is wandering down a corridor and "Emir is confronted by an enormous green thing covered in scabs! But enough of my problems and back to the game..."
The Hermitage is a gothic tale set in the Middle Ages in which you play the part of a monk named Ambrose. Your Archbishop gives you the task of going on a pilgrimage to the mountains of Vainmiomen to destroy an evil hermit, said by some to be an incarnation of the devil himself. You don't really feel up to it but the 'bish won't take "No" for an answer and off you go. This is a brief summary of a longer background nicely presented in an optional introduction.
The game's got a good professional look all round, except for spelling mistakes like 'existance', 'monotanous', 'uneasyily' and others too numerous to mention. Pegasus will have to sort this problem out if it's going to develop. Which it will, judging by this effort. The screen's well presented, the text is good, if a little gory in places, and the whole thing moves along briskly.
For once it pays to retrace your footsteps at the start, to discover that nasty things have been happening at the monastery. Several bodies are now lying around, with grizzly things having been done to them. There's a good gothic atmosphere, added to if you examine the statues in the chapel or read the bible you find in the pulpit. Off on your travels you get half-way over a rope bridge when a man appears at the other side and threatens to cut the rope if you don't cough up some cash. Result? One dead monk. Elsewhere there's a village where all hell's let loose, with drunken riotings, flaming huts and women being burnt at the stake. A good deed or two are needed here if you're to progress.
Conversation with other characters is a bit limited, in that you can usually say what you like to them and get the necessary response, and the vocabulary could be wider. A woman asks you to help her, but HELP WOMAN doesn't work, nor does RESCUE WOMAN (despite RESCUE being in the game's vocabulary according to the VOCAB command). You have to FREE WOMAN.
When a game has a few faults, as this one does, it often puts me off but the strong story and atmosphere of The Hermitage make it stand out from the crowd. Anyone taking the trouble to produce a special graphics version just for the +3 at under a tenner deserves a pat on the back too. Well worth buying.
|Value For Money||9/10|
Another 128k only adventure is The Hermitage. Written by Tony Collins it's all about Ambrose the Monk and his pilgrimage to the mountains of Vainmiomen where he's going to kill a hermit. Some pilgrim! Still, you are told the hermit is evil and must be done in. Things don't go smoothly and before long youll wish you stayed in bed!
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