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January 8, 2012

Prophecy of the Shadow - Revisited

Back in 1992 I still owned my beloved Amiga 600. It was clear then that the PC-platform was growing rapidly into the gaming market and the most advanced games was first released to the PC-platform. I was a huge fan of the SSI brand both of their strategy- and roleplaying games. The title Prophecy of the Shadow was the kind of title that I was quite jealous of my PC-friends to have on their platform but time went and it was not until 1995 that I changed to the PC-platform. Now it is time for me to see what I missed during those years and I want to make a small revisit to this game.


Ah, what I love these old backcovers. They make one want to play the game
The game is fully mousedriven, uses one character and realtime combats. It is a lighter RPG, but still includes the classical ingredients like attributes, inventory, leveling and spell system. The game is designed and programmed by Jaimi RR McEntire. Rumours say there where an amiga version of the game but I have never heard of it. 

To create your character you must answer a few questions. Each question gives you attribute scores to either health, magic, agility or a combination of them. I made my character Denvall to be more focused on combat and agility.


The game starts immediately by having an assassin kill your master Larkin who has taken care of you since you where a baby. With his final words he manages to tell you that you must take the text of the prophecy from Berrin to the Council in Silverdale.


Before leaving the grave of my master I look around the area. My masters house is here on a small glade in the forest. The door is looked but by using search I find a key with which I hopen and enter. After having rested for a while I decide to leave. Now the adventure starts for real.


You have no automap whatsoever and I fear it will be easy to get lost or at least to not be able to cover every space. I don´t know wether the game was supplied with a map or not. I´ll try my best though. At the left side of the window is my attribute scores together with number of arrows, silver and other standard items of the game. The bottom left is the area where all my items are. In the middle of the screen is the commands. You could look, talk, attack, use magic, open doors, drop items, search, use items and sleep.

I use the numeric pad to move around and leave my home. I have no idea where to go and soon the trails splits up for new opportunities. I soon came by a hut that belong to Berrin, just as Larkins dead words said.




Berrin believe my story but is too afraid to be seen with me until I´ve cleared my name. I get the key for Larkins workshop and decides to try to find it out.

As seen in the images above the game used real characters for images and small animations. Back in 1992 that was quite new and astonishing. 

After some exploration I came upon the village and found a jail, mercantile and a few other empty houses. After talking to the sheriff I learn that their leader Robin just has been captured and sits in jail. The bandits have some sort of hideout near the town but the Sheriff cannot do anything about it. There are also zombies to the north that are better to avoid.


Talking to characters initiates a classical dialogue system where keywords get highlighted when you discover new things. I much prefer this system than the one used by some games where you have to type the keywords youself. I admit that adds to the challenge but could also be very frustrating.


After strolling just a few screens off the village I was attacked by a bandit. The combat system is extremely simple. You don´t even click your mouse button. You initiate combat and then the system swing your weapon until either one is dead. At least my agility score is said to have an effect on the hit-chance. 

The game reminds me very much of Times of Lore. The same simplistic system albeit improved in this game. Back in 1988 I played and completed Times of Lore on the Commodore 64 and loved it.

After looking around north of the town I came across the bandits hideout and managed to kill all the bandits outside. Most of them carries food and/or silver. The hideout was actually a cabin but when trying to open it I was requested for a password which I didn´t know at the time. Their leader, Robin, is however in prison and a visit their yielded password as a new dialogue option. He refused to tell me and said he had a dry throat and threw me out. Aha, I walked to the inn and bought a bottle of wine (only the most expensive one, otherwhise your character decided to drink it up himself) and then brought it back to the prisoner who told me "The password ? why, you have just given it to me!". "Gee, thanks!" I answered.

Outside the bandits hideout
I was not the wiser. I thought I´ve automatically was given the answer and returned to the hidout but was forced to enter a word. I was without a clue. I had to check up that single thing in a walkthrough because I knew I had done everything right. Dumb as I was, the correct answer would have been the name of the wine which makes sense, but I did not just catch it at the time.

I´ve just entered the hideout
While exploring the hideout I had to fight almost 10 bandits and in the end met a Mage Hunter which is very difficult to kill. I think I will have to return to the village and try to gather some more silver in order to buy a better weapon.



It turns out you don´t actually level up in this game. You increase your characteristics by using them. This reminds me very much of Faery Tale Adventure, which this game also reminds a lot of.

After returning to the village I sold everything I could spare and got enough silver (200) to buy a rapier. I went back to the hideout but had no chance to destroy the mage hunter so instead I went east where I earlier discovered a pit and used my newly found rope from the hideout, in order to get down the pit. It turns out I have found the gnome mages den. Here zombies are walking the halls. There where a lot of important items found here like my first spell (light) together with the catalyst that you must have to cast spells.

I really like the simplicity of the game. It covers most things except tactical combat and levelling. You need food to sleep and could only sleep when you are tired. You also need light below the ground. There are however no day/night cycles as in Faery Tale Adventure.

I´ve given this game three hours and it is well worth the effort put into this. Now I only have to sell off my stuff and get back to the pit again....



11 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of this game before (probably because like you I was still attached to my Amiga in 1992), but I've added it to my list, although it looks a bit too simplistic for my taste, especially the combat.
    Graphics look very good for a 1992 game.
    And it's really amusing to see a CRPG that uses fighting giant rats, perhaps the oldest of all CRPG cliched, as a selling point. :-)

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  2. Thanks for playing this! I got stuck as a kid on this game and your review had just the right level of detail to follow right along to the end.

    I found two ways to break the game, if you're interested:

    Unlimited money: You can keep doing odd jobs at the inn for 10 silver, until you hit a certain amount, like 110 silver. You can also buy back things you sell to stores. So the solution is, work up to 110 silver. Then buy some small jewelry. Then work back up to 110 silver. Then buy sell the small jewelry and buy big jewelery. Then work your way back to 110, and buy the smaller jewelery. Then back to 110, sell everything, buy something bigger...etc. I had the dirt outside a shop littered with dozen of weapons and rings to pawn in this sort of pyramid scheme so I could buy the best equipment.

    Super leveling: When you first make a character put all your choices towards health. (Play with friends, be the bully, play baseball). When you get to that guy who sells acrobatics lessons for 500 silver on the mainland, use your infinite cash to train up as much as he can teach you. As for magic, you spam fireballs on the ground, then rest in your house, and then spam again. You'll slowly level your magic stat.

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  3. @Jason Thanks for reading and appreciating my playthrough.

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  4. Hahaha, that's a funny bug. Hey, thanks for replaying this - I wrote this game many years ago. We did work on an Amiga version, and had it "somewhat" playable, but in the end, it didn't look "amiga" enough, and we all wanted to work on the sequel anyway... so we decided to not finish it (and SSI was not happy!). Unfortunately, we never finished the sequel either!
    The game did come with a paper map. Later on, once you get to the mainland, you also get a spell that will give you an overhead map also. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. Thanks for your input Jaimi McEntire. Always fun to hear from the programmer himself for a specific game. If you read this, how long did it take to program and what language was used ?

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    2. Hi - My guess is about 18 months of development time - most of it part-time. I wrote it in C using the the old Microsoft C compiler. The graphics were done in Deluxe Paint on the Amiga, and ported to the PC. I had to write most of the framework for everything myself. It's kind of funny looking back at how we did it. All of the game logic and data (aside from the "books" and the images) I stored in arrays, and had to hand-type the coordinates. I can't even imagine doing that nowadays, what a time sink!

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  5. That's funny, it listed me as unknown even though I have an account... Haha, love blogspot.

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  6. Is there a floating eye like monster in this game? It has been racking my brain forever as to which game I could be thinking of... it is an old dos/early windows game with a common floating eye monster when you get to the harder areas. I also seem to recall there being some element theme of fire water earth and wind. Please help!

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    1. Yes, there is. A floating Eye on an eyestalk or something moving mainly near the coast. It was one of the harder opponents and so demanded some planning and upgrading in order to kill.

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  7. Thanks! Do the "gazers" look like beholders? Do you happen to have a screencap of one? I would have never been able to remember this game with the limited info I could recall had it not been for your blog.

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    1. I´ll check home if I have any old screencapture of a gazer. They don´t look like a beholder. If my memory serves me well it was just a floating big Eye without stalks protruding from it. It migh however have an eyestalk it was fastened on.

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