Let me make one thing perfectly clear. This game is not Gauntlet. It has no connection with Gauntlet and just because the whole look of the game and gameplay is somewhat Gauntletesque I wouldn't want you to come away from this review with the impression. Hope that's clear.
Druid is a swords and sorcery arcade game in which you rush about killing hundreds of assorted ghouls using one of three spells. You open magic chests to discover spellpower, cast various special spells and use keys to open doors. Travel from level to level via flights of stairs and the whole thing is presented top-down with a vast fantasy landscape scrolling behind you.
The curious thing about Druid is that the first screen is all shrubbery - trees hedges: for a few moments you may be mistaken into believing it was not really all that much like the big G at all. However, as soon as you hit the second level - which looks like some sort of ancient Greek temple and is full of mythical busts and such - bells of familiarity start to be rung. This couldn't be deliberate could it? I mean they wouldn't try to hide in the shrubbery the fact this is a bit like G would they?
I completed the first level without too much trouble. You'll need to discover quickly the location of the first door key (needed at the beginning of the second level), the exit stairs and the position of a handy regeneration pad.
You'll also need to discover what spell works best on what creature and learn to switch between spells quickly and remember to keep them all topped up.
Druid looks good. The backgrounds aren't quite two-colour but have been carefully designed so that for attribute clash-purposes two
colours are mostly all that is involved. Consequently, although the sprites are at times a little indistinct there are no real vomit-inducing colour flicker moments.
I made it to level three within an hour or so and soon realised that there is far more to the game than mere blasting (sorry spell casting). The keys are vital. Sometimes a chest which appears to contain some wonderful goodies like gigantic charges for spells in fact contains something far more vital, ie your way into the next level.
There are smart bombs (called Chaos spells), a special invisibility spell that causes the assembled warlocks, fiends, trolls, spooks (and less easily described denizens of the dark) to stand still for a few moments whilst you make a getaway.
More unusual is the Golem spell which conjures up a golem - an unearthly being that looks sort of like a bouncer from the Hippodrome and performs a similar sort of function - it keeps the insalubrious elements (and elementals) away by stomping into them.
Druids is devilishly addictive. I had to be dragged screaming to my typewriter to actually get around to writing about the damn thing. It captures a good deal of The Other Game and it will sell in huge quantities unless the legal boys start to get nasty.
Author: Dean Carter, Andrew Bailey
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
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