#134 Dungeon Master

Posted: 27th June 2020 by Jeroen in Goodbye
Tags: , , ,

878th played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1987
Developer: FTL Games
Publisher: FTL Games

A long time ago, when I first got access to the internet, I had learned about a (table top) game called Dungeons & Dragons and that it was a Dungeon Master who ran it. While I’d go on to play games using the system later, with Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment being my big ones and Eye of the Beholder being an earlier list implementation, I thought that this game, too, was related to it. I never played much of it – the start isn’t that easy to figure out – I’ve always had that curiosity. Today, I get to satisfy that, at least to some point.

Our Thoughts

Dungeon Master is a step up from the dungeon crawlers that we’ve seen in Ultima, with better graphics and a more evolved character system – including a party to play with. It’s not as far as the aforementioned Eye of the Beholder, but there’s a bit more variation. Just how the game starts, in a simple sewer-like level with portraits on the wall that let you select the different characters you play with, stands out. While the characters still stay a number of stats without much personality, there’s a name and portrait here that add a bit of personality to the game.

After that, it feels like a pretty standard dungeon crawl. It is initially a case of finding keys to progress through the dungeon levels while fighting off enemies. There are some puzzles involved as well – the true original D&D spirit – but while the later levels seem to have some of their own characterization, as well as specific set up, it’s all down to puzzles, fighting monsters and dealing with keys (sometimes between levels) and the scope for role playing or story seems more limited from what I can see. One advantage I had over players at the time is that annotated maps for these levels is now online, saving me the pixel hunt for that key that blends in too well and letting me see a bit more.

Final Thoughts

While it feels like Dungeon Master is dated compared to what RPGs become, even a few years later in Eye of the Beholder, the core of what you’d get in a 70s hardcore D&D game is there, indeed with a sadistic dungeon master. It’s opaque and tricky, but I can see the diamond underneath of a game that I’d like to see more of.