(This is part of my journey going playing through 1991’s Eye of the Beholder 2: The Legend of Darkmoon. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)
A while back, GOG.com handed out free copies of Eye of the Beholder 2 to everyone, and you know me — I’m never one to turn down free games. At the time, I took note of the fact that a few gaming outlets were gushing about how great this game was back in the day, and I made a vow to get to it sooner or later. This is that sooner AND later.
Eye of the Beholder 2 is, at its core, a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon crawler. Make a party, crawl the dungeon. That’s it. But it has a great reputation (generally this second installment, made by Westwood Studios, is the best-reviewed) and I am curious to look at it from both a modern perspective and from an imaginative one of wondering if this would’ve been my jam back in high school if I had only been aware of it.
The introduction of the game is pretty stereotypical for D&D — and very quick. The archemage of the town in concerned about something bad happening in a temple, and sends the player party to investigate. There are some really pretty 1991-era VGA graphics going on here. This is definitely one of my favorite periods of computer gaming, visually.
I had some fun with character creation, using recent names on my Twitter feed to populate my four-person party. This group includes:
- Zinn, a lawful good Paladin with a heart as sterling as her hair is silver
- Wolfy, a sketchy-looking Fighter/Thief who doesn’t have all of his teeth
- Katriana, a mysterious Cleric who is all-green for some reason
- and Syl, a Mage and constant thorn in my side.
I also have graph paper on the desk beside me, because I hear it’s one of those games. Let’s do this!
Our adventure begins in the woods outside the temple. I don’t know about you, but it’s a little harrowing trying to figure out brand-new game controls while a wolf starts clawing you like crazy. I actually dropped a sword thinking that’s how you attacked.
Syl’s sharp eyes spotted a secret area beyond some bushes, so we investigated and found a hidden cellar. It’s a small place that has a magic missile scroll for Syl and some leather armor and rotten food. Yum!
I’m starting to get into the groove of combat and casting spells, so we wander around the forest getting a handle on fights and seeing what else might be here. There’s a graveyard tucked away in the back of the forest, but Zinn — our lawful good Paladin — kicks up a fuss about desecrating the dead.
Fine. Take all the fun out of graverobbing, why don’t you?
Fortunately, the game does send an old lady to lead you right to the temple door if you are a little lost. Considering that there’s no map feature in this game — easily the biggest oversight — I’m grateful for the assistance.
Well, I *could* click “no” and stay out in this small forest forever. Doesn’t seem like that would be much of a game, however. Into the temple we go!