by Bo Jangeborg, Jack Wilkes, Niclas Osterlin, Pennsoft, Mark Alexander
The Edge
Crash Issue 22, November 1985   (1985-10-24)   page(s) 26,27

The Land of Fairlight was once a happy, jolly place - but this is no longer the case. More than three thousand years have passed since the worthy King Avars held court over the land from his Castle, and the whole county is enveloped in gloom and despondency. The Light has gone from the land, and the days are perpetually grey and gloomy when once the sun shone endlessly in clear blue skies. Over the years, partly as a result of a series of weak rulers, the social fabric of Fairlight declined - the people once lived happily in a peaceful land, full of music, jollity and magic. Now the county has a feudal system; society is fragmented, overseen by merchants and barons.

Castle Avars stands alone in the middle of the plain of Avarslund, impenetrable and surrounded in rumour and myth. Folktales suggest that a perpetual summer shines within the castle; other myths tell of Segar the Immortal who dwells within the castle, awaiting the moment to return, when he'll bring Light back to the land.

Isvar is the reluctant hero of this game, which forms the first part of the Chronicles of the Land of Fairlight and is subtitled A Prelude: The Light Revealed. Musing one day on the state of life he decides to enter Ogri's Wood - a wood that is universally acclaimed as dangerous. Ignoring the wisdom of the Elders, (Isvar is sure they must be hiding something - perhaps a great treasure) he enters the wood and is captured by the woman-monster Ogri and carried off to her cave, unconscious.

When Isvar comes round, Ogri has departed. The figure of a old man in a hooded cloak appears before him and tells Isvar that he is now on the shelf of Ogri's larder! Not one for being eaten, Isvar follows the old man out of the cave towards Castle Avars. Suddenly an entrance opens up in a wall that moments before was featureless. Isvar is in the castle and the old man explains that he is the court sorcerer of King Avers and has been imprisoned for thousands of years. Then the old man disappears - the figure which lured Isvar into the castle was merely an apparition, created by the imprisoned sorcerer for just that purpose. Isvar is now trapped in the castle. and can only escape by finding the Book of Light hidden within its walls and taking it to the sorcerer.

Isvar, the character you control, is moved round in a world which is not only three-dimensional in aspect, but realistic in terms of the way objects behave. Isvar has five pockets in which he can store objects he collects - but each object has a mass and obeys the laws of physics. Push a chair and it will move quite a long way; push a table and it moves less far. You can pick up and carry several pieces of food, for instance, as each is quite light but if you try to carry a barrel you will find that it is so heavy that Isvar has to drop everything else first. Objects may be called from a specified pocket, when they will be displayed on the little scroll next to the life counter, and can then be used. This scroll also acts as the display area, where messages to do with the manipulation of objects - such as 'too heavy' - appear. Isvar's life force is also shown.

Isvar begins with a life force of 99 units, shown on a counter on the scroll. This counter is decremented by encounters with the trolls, guards and other nasties that patrol the castle and may be topped up by eating food or drinking wine that can be found here and there. Isvar can fight and kill some of the nasties, using his sword, but other opponents are not in the least perturbed by his efforts and are best avoided completely.

Each location in the castle is colour coded - which helps you keep your bearings while you explore. All the open air locations, for instance, are blue. As you leave one room or location, the screen will go blank for a couple of seconds while the change is made, then the new location flashes onto the screen, ready drawn. If a location is filled with other moving figures, Isvar slows down a bit - but in an empty room he can really motor! During gameplay, silence reigns, but music fans will really appreciate the two channel simulation at the start which pushes the Spectrum's Beeper to the limit!

Control keys: Y-P up and right; H-ENTER down and left; Q-T up and left; A-G down and right; SYMBOL SHIFT/SPACE jump B-M fight; X-V pickup; CAPS/Z drop; 1-5 select objects; 6/7 use object selected
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive, but easier on rubber ones!
Use of colour: only black and a second colour used in each location
Graphics: a stunning new technique for 3D representation
Sound: cunningly simulated two-channel music to begin with, otherwise silence
Skill levels: one
Screens: 80

'Bo Jangeborg has certainly come up with an excellent new system for creating 3D representations of rooms and the objects contained in them. Playing Fairlight is a little tricky at first, owing to the number of keys that you have to master but once the initial awkwardness is overcome it's great fun shoving things around the place and piling objects on top of one another to make ramps which Isvar can climb. Very soon you do feel as if you are playing in a real world and although the pauses between rooms are a bit annoying, the links are made very well. Overall an excellent game, with first rate graphics - worth getting hold of to play not just to look at.'

'Wow, amazing, brill, trif, fab, awesome and other such noises... I've never seen a game that looks as good as this. What excellent graphics! This knocks Filmation and Filmation 2 into a cocked hat. And there's a game behind the graphics too - what more could I ask for? Sound. There isn't any during the game, but the intro music makes up for it. Control is awkward and takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, playing becomes second nature. The only thing that is a little infuriating is that the screen blacks out every time you change location. I strongly recommend this game to everyone: it's very playable and addictive and it looks so good.'

'Ultimate first introduced us to realistic 3D graphics but sadly not a lot of game was bolted on to them. Now, thanks to The Edge, that gap has been filled. Fairlight features very high quality graphics and a good tune at the start of the game. While the game is fun to play the desire to see the other screens makes you want to solve puzzles to get nearer the end effect. Controlling Isvar and manipulating objects is very easy and using a bit of brain power it's not long before you are well and truly hooked. It's hard to say whether Fairlight will appeal to arcade fanatics but I'm sure there are few people who could actually say the game is useless! The Edge have come up with a very good arcade adventure with 3D graphics that should rate in everybody's top 10.'

Use of Computer: 89%
Graphics: 97%
Playability: 90%
Getting Started: 86%
Addictive Qualities: 91%
Value For Money: 92%
Overall: 95%

Summary: General Rating: A stunning game, achieved with a new programming technique.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 10, October 1986   page(s) 21

Isvar grows up to face bigger problems, in the 128K version of a Spectrum classic. No other game I know quite so convincingly creates a world within a microchip... and if you think that your usually flippant reviewer sounds serious it's because this really is an all time fave!

Isvar's back and 'is rambles round the environs of Castle Avars now 'ave a more musical note. One of the few failings in 48K, induced by a shortage of memory, has been corrected as a few tasteful tunes are added to his peregrinations.

Music is the most obvious addition to this expanded first episode of the epic. The plot remains identical though, so you wander round the wonderfully well-realised castle in your quest for the Book of Light, mislaid by some clumsy wizard, thusly (as they say in the sagas) sinking the land into everlasting gloom. Something akin to an English summer?

If you're hard pressed to find the mystic tome, and so save a mammoth library fine, the other additions are even more elusive. The Edge swears on a mystical runic sword that there are new monsters and at least one extra secret passage which could well get you out of a sticky situation, but I couldn't find them.

Sure there's a skeleton rattling around at the start, but he's only there to advertise Fairlight II, and I was never menaced by this skinny specimen once I'd entered the adventure proper. By way of recompense there's a grisly death mask when Isvar bytes the dust or whatever it is that microscopic heroes do.

But why grumble? This is still a classic and I for one will be playing the expanded version from now on. Then again, I got my copy for free, and I doubt even I would fork out again for all that hey-nonny-no nonsense, however hum-able.

As is so often the case my advice is, a) if you don't already own this or you've worn the original out, go for the revised version but option b) is for all the rest of you... save your pennies for Fairlight II which is being designed with the bigger Spectrum in mind.

Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 20, November 1985   page(s) 40,41

Gothic Horror

Fairlight is a land of mystery and magic with a castle that holds as many secrets as Castle Rathbone. It's also the new game from The Edge - Simon Forman has come under its spell.

Things haven't been too rosy recently in the land of Fairlight - war, murder, plague, famine. You know the sort of thing! Well, now you've got the chance to do something about it. Imprisoned in the Castle Avars is the magician whose Book of Light can make the sun shine once more - and guess who the task of freeing him has fallen too? Got it in one, so you can stop sloping off. After all, you might miss out on the best arcade adventure of the year - maybe the game of the year!

Fairlight is a true adventure, not just one in name. There are eighty-odd locations, a mystery to solve and hidden objects to uncover and use. But it all takes place in stunning 3D graphics. Here are caves and courtyard, dungeons and drawbridges, towers and secret rooms - all pieces of a jigsaw that'll fit together to form a perfect castle.

You'll soon suss out that the magician you've got to rescue is holed up in one of the towers. It's getting up there that's the problem - your path's blocked by a monk-like ghoul who will not budge. So, it's off round the castle, exploring all the rooms, finding keys to the locked doors, collecting crowns and books and bags of gold. But you're not the only one wandering within the walls - beware the soldiers, trolls, magic bubbles and monks, all of them out to do you a mischief.

The atmosphere of the medieval castle is captured by the programmer, Bo Jangeborg using his Worldmaker Technique. This has added an extra dimension of realism to the game that you won't have come across before. You'll find that objects weigh differently just like in real life. When you move an object, leave and then return to a room, it doesn't reset but stays just where you put it. And best of all you can pick up all the objects you find and use them in any of the other rooms.

Different from the Ultimate megagames, huh? Alien 8 and Knight lore are more puzzle games - each room poses a problem that you've got to overcome. Fairlight is one big problem - but you'll have one helluva time trying to solve it!

Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 42, September 1985   page(s) 17

ACROSS THE incredibly Flat and Featureless Plain, on the other side of the impenetrably Thick Forest, just beside the Stream that Dries Up in The Corner of The Map sits the Enchanted Castle.

Haven't we had enough of them, after Avalon, Knight Lore, Dragontorc, and Tir na Nog? OK, so the setting of Fairlight is not promising. There's a wizard locked up in the castle and you have to find a magic book to release him and save the great gizmo from going ape with the wotsit.

Don't worry. When you actually get inside the castle you'll forget about how bored you are with fantasy. Fairlight, from The Edge, a division of Softek, is a quest with a difference.

The difference is largely in the graphics. They are the best we have seen of the two-colour 3D variety, streets ahead of Knight Lore and Alien 8 for variety and elegance of design. There are stairways and catwalks, corridors and chambers, trapdoors and courtyards in the castle; mapping Fairlight is going to be a problem, as the castle is designed like a castle, not a chessboard with a lot of walls between the squares.

Your character is an adventurer, cloaked and armed with a suitably workmanlike orc-sticker for those embarrassing social encounters. The figure moves in four directions and can jump, pick up objects and fight. It does those things a lot faster than Sabreman, whose antics are beginning to look decidedly creaky against this new wave of arcade-adventures.

You can push objects around as well, stack chairs on tables to get at high doors or windows, and generally derange the furniture at your pleasure. But the problems have a more naturalistic quality than usual. Keys tend to fit doors - somewhere - and performing various sequences of action will reveal further depths to the castle as secret doors are opened.

Monsters include guards and trolls, club-wielding heavies who can be fought or outwitted. Realism in the fight sequences includes comparisons of strength.

In fact, every object and character in the game has a weight. Objects carried are displayed on a small scroll tucked away in the corner of the screen, one at a time - the one you have selected to hold. You can carry up to five objects altogether, but the weight is important, and you may only lave strength enough for less. Similarly, 300 pounds of gibbering green trollflesh packs a bigger punch than one wimpish little prison guard.

Fairlight is to be the first of a trilogy of games set in the land of Fairlight and future games will take the player into the surrounding countryside.

The secret of the stunning graphics is Grax, a high-powered low-level graphics language developed by Softek. Bo Jangeborg, who is currently putting the finishing touches to Fairlight, uses Grax to develop complex screens which occupy only one or two hundred bytes of memory at most. Softek originally thought in terms of a 35 screen game but the finished product could contain up to 100, depending on Bo's stamina.

Tim Langdell, manager director of Softek, says Grax uses adapted core routines from The Artist, a graphics package reviewed elsewhere in this issue. But he's thinking about releasing Grax in the shape of an arcade-adventure design package.

Meanwhile, watch out for Fairlight, it's got to be one of the best arcade-adventure quests of the year.

Chris Bourne

Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 45, December 1985   page(s) 125,126,128

Now back to fairytales... Once upon a cassette there was a land called Fairlight, a land of peace, blue skies, free beer - a realm where taxi drivers never overcharged and magic prevailed. Then came war and disaster.

This is the readily recognisable setting for Fairlight, a new graphic-adventure from the Edge.

Isvar the hero is shown as a moustachioed figure, cloaked and armed. The world he wanders through leaves the gridiron-planned environment of Knight Lore standing in awe, for the castle's plan and geography is as bewildering as a real one.

Staircases and corridors lead to halls, cells, gardens and courtyards. Furniture, food and other odd items are scattered around and the place is guarded by scuttling orcs, thuggish trolls and ogres.

Those creatures have some intelligence and will chase and attack if you violate their territory. A combat system will weigh up your respective strengths and you must enter into direct action with the monsters. You must maintain your own strength by regular eating - food can often be found in the ores' barrack rooms or the finer private apartments of the castle. Many of the objects can be carried but all of them have a weight.

Momentum also exists here and if you push a table loaded with a flagon and chicken the eatables will carry on moving when the table stops. Very realistic and extremely convincing.

The keyboard offers a full range of actions including Fight and you are given the option of using a Kempston stick for the movement combat.

This is one of the most complete and satisfying role-playing graphic games I have yet seen. There is quite simply so much to do, so much to explore and so much to experiment with.

Let's take a look at the orc guards. When you enter a room you may only see a couple of their helmets lying around. Suddenly, the helmet grows into a fully fledged and bellicose warrior. After a while you realise that the orcs regenerate from the helmets. I spent hours on the dungeon level looking for places to imprison the helmets so that they wouldn't bother me. Early on you will find a scroll which will help you to escape when you get utterly entombed.

Fairlight is state-of-the-art. It's a classic in every sense - go get it.

Richard Price

Publisher: The Edge
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K


Overall: 5/5

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 55, October 1986   page(s) 73

Magic has faded in the Land of Fairlight! The great kings lie in barrows under burnt fields and, as the cloud crowded night moves over the valleys, the people look forward to doom. Fairlight has returned, specially enhanced for the 128K machine.

No game has yet bettered the fabulous 3D graphics of the original Fairlight - also one of the few arcade adventures which treats every part of a room as separate: move tables, chair, pots and barrels, the only limit being your strength.

There are few differences between the 48K and 128K versions of Fairlight. The new version contains more locations, more monsters and a superb continuous music track.

Fairlight isn't just about fighting, feeding or picking up objects. Although you can use your sword to get out of most situations it is always better to use brains - and not so testing on your life energy level. For instance, you can battle the guard on the ramparts, kill him and move through the door he was protecting. Alternatively, you can entice him into the courtyard, dodge around him and make for the door - simple and not one life point lost.

Fairlight 128 is a fabulous game, full of mist and magic. It stands a helmet and full set of chainmail above other 3D strategy games and is likely to remain so for a long time to come.

Label: The Edge
Author: Bo Janeborg
Price: £9.95
Memory: 128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert


Overall: 5/5

Summary: Fairlight always was a Classic game. Now its even better with full soundtrack and more locations.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 50, December 1985   page(s) 17

MACHINE: Spectrum
PRICE: £9.95

"Huh! just like Knight Lore," will probably be the most common phrase to pass cynical gamers lips when they view the latest effort from The Edge, based in leafy Covent Garden.

Despite comparisons being odious, closer inspection will reveal a level of detail and precision which surpasses anything seen on a Spectrum before. Of course, sacrifices have to be made to incorporate such finery...

Loading proved no obstacle, and shortly an extremely pretty title screen appeared, along with a three figure number in the lower left hand section of the screen. This number gradually decreases as the code is loaded, until it reaches 000, and a merry (if slightly lengthy) tune issues from the Speccy.

The plot is very long-winded so we'll leave out all the myth and magic and press on with game-play. A 3D picture of each location is presented, very much like the Ultimate games of late. The Edge have been making loud noises about a "Worldmaker" which was used to create the environment, and comments about hype aside, it really is very good.

You are presented as a fairly insignificant-looking fellow, sword-in-hand. Basic movements in four diagonal directions are accommodated along with jumping, object handling and combat.

I was frustrated with the object routine. It seems impossible to push an object from one room to another, which is a definite problem if you find a chest obscuring a doorway after some fearsome combat.

When the room is narrow, matters are made increasingly difficult. You can't push the blasted chest out of the way, you can't pick it up, turn around and put it down somewhere convenient. Doubtless you will find the offending object too heavy to carry without dropping a valuable item first!

There are lots of unfriendly people in the castle where most of the action takes place. Whirlwinds, knights, bubbles and hooded figures all wander around with seemingly nothing better to do than inflict severe physical damage on any passing traveller!

All-in-all, a great game. Certainly one for mapping freaks!

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 2/10
Value: 8/10
Playability: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue December 1985   page(s) 35

The Edge
Arcade Adventure

In the mythical kingdom of Covent Garden, once people by a fair race, a band of strolling software magicians, known to story-tellers as Ye Edge, conjured up a corny sub-Tolkien plot to accompany a truly wonderful arcade adventure - Fairlight.

But once you're inside the dubious-sounding Castle Avars you soon forget about background details like the land of Fairlight slipping into chaos and darkness. The graphics are excellent, better in some ways than Ultimate's latest offering Nightshade. The Edge put it down to "The 3-D Worldmaker Technique".

Whatever you want to call it, the result is good, smooth animation in two colours.

As with all the best games the idea behind it is simple. You, Isvar, must escape from the castle by finding The Book of Light. There's also the standard hooded old man of mystery who presumably gets out when you do.

The idea may be simple but escaping isn't. Collecting the right items is the only way of mapping out the castle's 80-odd ogres. Finding the objects isn't too bad - the early ones at least. The problems start when you have to work out what to do with them.

The scroll is the sorcerer's equivalent of an ejector seat; when the going gets tough it'll plonk you down in the relative safety of the courtyard. The bag of gold is handy for bribing certain guards, while food, keys and magic potion should all be fairly self-explanatory.

To reach certain objects like the egg timer requires a lot of shoving and stacking of furniture. Addicts of Ultimate's Knight Lore and Alien 8 will really feel at home.

The booklet with the game suggests that you examine the cover, opening screen and text for clues. To me the cover showed a wizard loosely resembling Edge boss Tim Langdell reading a radioactive Your Computer binder. The opening screen did however give a few hints; it gives you an aerial view of part of the castle, for example.

Apart from its graphics and complexity, it's touches like Isvar's five pocket and the weight restrictions on what you can carry that make this such a good game. Should keep you happily gnashing your teeth for hours.

Graphics: 5/5
Playability: 4/5
Sound: 1/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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