Western style dungeon crawling is not exactly the genre one usually associates with game consoles. Yet as a final breath of its exclusive take on the Dungeons & Dragons licence, SSI tried just this unlikely match. Not without adaptions for the assumed target audience, of course.
Using a somewhat stripped down version of the Eye of the Beholder engine, the lone player character (generated by standard D&D rules) enters a randomly generated dungeon of configurable size and difficulty.
Unlike Beholder, the graphical engine allows for 360° free movement, giving a stronger feeling of action. It also looks good, but ironically makes performing the classic Dungeon Master dance (fighting the enemies) a little problematic at first. Particularly since (as usual at the time), those enemies don't actually have any dimension, but are flat stand-up dummies.
Controls take some getting used to as well. For sure they work, but common actions seem hardly adapted to gamepad use. Applying objects from the inventory, for instance, is just a little too complex. And then there are those things which can only be done through unintuitive combinations of keypresses. On the other hand, the convenience function of automatically picking up objects lying on the ground surely is appreciated. The automap is sufficiently detailed and the immediate surroundings are even made permanently visible on the main screen.
Ironically, the aspect wheredisappoints most, is variety. The dungeon levels being randomized for each game (reproducible through a configurable seed), you'd think that fun should never stop. Though unfortunately, the main change between seeds and between levels is really the wall textures. The levels themselves lack many of the details usually spicing such games up. Basically, there are just corridors, rooms, doors, switches and occasional teleporters. Different areas or special tiles leading to gameplay effects don't exist: no fake walls, no secret doors, no swimming… and in any case, levels are always the same size and the same square shape, obviously.
That said, takingfor what it is – a barebones, stripped to the essence dungeon romp with focus on fighting – its ability to provide basic diversion cannot be denied. The smallest dungeon size which can be generated is just eight levels. Certainly, it is entertaining enough to quickly play through this. Just don't expect too much, and remember that even just discovering a game which you haven't even heard about before today may be its own reward in any case.