The Mother of all RPGs (3 out of 5)
Dungeon Master had all the elements of a typical role playing game. You can explore every corner of a dungeon, cast intricate spells, solve puzzles that go beyond the typical “key-lock” RPGs and immerse yourselves in fighting monsters in real-time!
Dungeon Master was actually developed by FTL games for the Atari ST platform. It was developed for the PC two years later, in 1989. It was certainly not the first 3D RPG but probably the first to gain immense popularity and still remains one of the best-known playable examples of the early CRPGs. During the late 1980’s most games were either side scrolls or top views; a 3D first person perspective was quite unheard of. Dungeon Master proved its point, both in gameplay and graphics.
The story is rather simple. While experimenting with a magical artifact, an accident occurs, making the master wizard doomed to a life in an indeterminate state. His evil cousin, Lord Chaos seizes the opportunity and takes control of a large dungeon. You, as a dedicated disciple of the wizard, must defeat Chaos and bring back the wizard to his original form. In your quest to save the dungeon from the evil clutches of Chaos you will have to pick up four characters from the “Hall of Champions” and resurrect them to form a team and solve the mystery of the dungeon’s deep secrets. The characters range from magicians and paladins to priests and ninjas. Every “champion” has a set of different skills, equipment and vital stats. On your way, you will come across monsters in the form of mummies and spiders that spring up from nowhere. There are also weapons, food and a whole lot of things to pick up and use if necessary.
The gameplay is quite decent compared to a typical RPG. You can use the mouse or the keyboard to play. After entering the “House of Champions”, you will have to click over photo-frames mounted on the wall with pictures of different warriors, magicians and priests. Each time you click on a particular frame, you will see a profile screen appear with statistics of that particular character. Each character has an inventory with plenty of equipment and armor slots. You will have to resurrect four characters to begin your quest and each character needs to both eat and drink to regain their strength and powers. You can find many inventory items, as well as food and water in many areas.
As in any other RPG, you will encounter many monsters who always give an element of surprise. The fighting is turn-based and so you will have a chance to select the weapons and combat actions of a champion to fight back. Apart from fighting, there are lots of puzzles to be solved. Puzzles range from riddles and inventory-based puzzles to physical puzzles involving traps and switches. You even get a chance to cast intricate spells, although you will need a bit of practice to learn the spells. The game comes with a manual that has technical details about spell casting.
I would suggest playing this game at least once as it has some challenging rooms, ingenious puzzles, great sound effects and excellent role playing features.