Eye of the Beholder (video game)

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Eye of the Beholder
MS-DOS/Amiga cover art by Jeff Easley
Developer(s)Westwood Associates
Director(s)Brett Sperry
  • Phillip W. Gorrow
  • Eydie Laramore
  • Paul S. Mudra
    Joseph Bostic
  • Rick Parks
  • Aaron E. Powell
  • Joseph B. Hewitt IV
Writer(s)Eydie Laramore
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Amiga, Sega CD, SNES, PC-98
  • 1991 (MS-DOS, Amiga)
  • 1992 (PC-98)
  • April 1994 (SNES)[1]
  • 4 May 1994 (Sega CD)[2]
Genre(s)Dungeon crawler

Eye of the Beholder is a role-playing video game for personal computers and video game consoles developed by Westwood Associates. It was published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in 1991,[3][4] for the MS-DOS operating system and later ported to the Amiga, the Sega CD and the SNES. The Sega CD version features a soundtrack composed by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima.[5][6] A port to the Atari Lynx handheld was developed by NuFX in 1993, but was not released.[7] In 2002, an adaptation of the same name was developed by Pronto Games for the Game Boy Advance.

The game has two sequels, Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, also released in 1991, and Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor, released in 1993. The third game, however, was not developed by Westwood, which had been acquired by Virgin Interactive in 1992 and created the Lands of Lore series instead.


The lords of the city of Waterdeep hire a team of adventurers to investigate an evil coming from beneath the city. The adventurers enter the city's sewer, but the entrance gets blocked by a collapse caused by Xanathar, the eponymous beholder. The team descends further beneath the city, going through Dwarf and Drow clans, to Xanathar's lair, where the final confrontation takes place.

Once the eponymous beholder is killed, the player would be treated to a small blue window describing that the beholder was killed and that the adventurers returned to the surface where they were treated as heroes. Nothing else was mentioned in the ending and there were no accompanying graphics. This was changed in the later released Amiga version, which featured an animated ending.


Beginning of the game (DOS)

Eye of the Beholder features a first-person perspective in a dungeon rendered using 3D computer graphics,[8] very similar to the earlier Dungeon Master.[9] The player controls four characters, initially, using a point-and-click interface to fight monsters.[8] This can be increased to a maximum of six characters, by resurrecting one or more skeletons from dead non-player characters (NPCs), or finding NPCs that are found throughout the dungeons.

The possibility to increase the size of the player's party through the recruiting of NPCs was a tradition in all of the Eye of the Beholder series. It was also possible to import a party from Eye of the Beholder into The Legend of Darkmoon or from The Legend of Darkmoon into Assault on Myth Drannor; thus, a player could play through all three games with the same party.


The graphics for the MS-DOS version were created using Deluxe Paint. Over 150 Adlib sound effects exist in the game's audio.[10]


Critical reception[edit]

Eye of the Beholder was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #171 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column, who gave it 5 out of 5 stars.[13] It was #1 on the Software Publishers Association's list of top MS-DOS games for April 1991, the last SSI D&D game to reach the rank.[20] Dennis Owens of Computer Gaming World called it "a stunning, brilliantly graphic and agonizingly tricky" 3-D CRPG. The magazine stated that the game's VGA graphics and sound card audio finally gave IBM PC owners a Dungeon Master-like game.[21] Scorpia, another reviewer for the magazine, was less positive. Although also praising the graphics and audio, stating that they "really give you the feeling of being in an actual dungeon", she criticized the awkward spell user interface and the "outrageous" abrupt ending. Other areas that needed work included the combat, plot, and NPC interaction; nonetheless, she was hopeful that with such improvements "the Legend series will become one of the leaders in the CRPG field".[22] In 1993 Scorpia called the game "an impressive first effort that bodes well for the future".[23]

The One gave the Amiga version of Eye of the Beholder an overall score of 92%, heavily comparing it to Dungeon Master, stating that "comparisons to the [aging] classic – Dungeon Master – are inevitable. When two games look this similar, even their programmers would have trouble telling them apart". The One praises Eye of the Beholder's gameplay, stating that "in contrast to previous AD&D titles, there's more emphasis on puzzle-solving than combat – a refreshing change ... Combat is also handled extremely well, the spells and 'ranged weapons' rules are all faithful to the original game ... The gameplay works wonderfully, conjuring up both the spirit and the atmosphere that you get from [tabletop AD&D]". Despite this, The One expresses that Eye of the Beholder is on par with Dungeon Master and Chaos Strikes Back, but states that Eye of the Beholder is still "an essential purchase for followers of the AD&D series".[17]

Hailing the game as "a dream come true" for Dungeons & Dragons fans, Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Super NES version a 6.2 out of 10, praising its 3-D graphics and variety of characters.[15] They gave the Sega CD version a 7.2 out of 10, this time praising the ability to create custom characters but criticizing the audio. They also remarked that the game has a difficult learning curve.[14] While reviewing the Sega CD version, Computer and Video Games said it is "not quite up there with Snatcher, but without doubt a highly ace role-player".[12]

According to GameSpy in 2004, despite the issues in the first Eye of the Beholder, "most players found the game well worth the effort".[24] IGN ranked Eye of the Beholder No. 8 on their list of "The Top 11 Dungeons & Dragons Games of All Time" in 2014.[25] Ian Williams of Paste rated the game #8 on his list of "The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames" in 2015.[26] In 1991, PC Format placed Eye of the Beholder on its list of the 50 best computer games of all time. The editors called it a "classic romp through dungeons dealing with monsters, puzzles, traps and things mythical".[27]

Commercial performance[edit]

SSI sold 129,234 copies of Eye of the Beholder. By mid-1991, over 150,000 copies had been sold worldwide.[28] The Eye of the Beholder series overall, including the game's two sequels, reached global sales above 350,000 units by 1996.[29]


In January 1991, SSI participated in Computer Gaming World's Top Ad contest and their cover art for Eye of the Beholder came in first place among voting readers, despite the magazine publisher's objection to the piece.[30] From February till October, SSI started up a contest "Beholder Bonus", which required players to find a bonus feature (easter egg) in each level of the game, indicated by an onscreen message. The first 50 PC players and 50 Amiga players to discover all 12 features would win $100 worth of prizes.[31][32]



There were two sequels: Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon used a modified version of the first game's engine, added outdoor areas and greatly increased the amount of interaction the player had with their environment, along with substantially more 'roleplaying' aspects to the game.

Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor was not developed by Westwood, the developer of Eye of the Beholder and The Legend of Darkmoon, but rather in-house by the publisher SSI.

Eye of the Beholder Trilogy (1995, SSI) was a rerelease of all the three games for MS-DOS on CD-ROM. Interplay released the three games along with a number of other AD&D DOS Games in two collection CDs: The Forgotten Realms Archives (1997) and Gamefest: Forgotten Realms Classics (2001).

Related games[edit]

Several modules for Neverwinter Nights (2002) have been created by fans as remakes of the original Eye of the Beholder game.[33][34] A team of Indie game developers led by Andreas Larsson did a fan conversion of the game for the Commodore 64 available for free as a cartridge image.[35]


  1. ^ Petersen, Sandy (April 1994). "Eye of the Monitor" (PDF). Dragon. No. 204. TSR, Inc. p. 35.
  2. ^ "Eye of the Beholder (Sega CD) – IGN". IGN. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^ Minelli, Frank (1990). "The Rumor Bag". Computer Gaming World (79):16
  4. ^ "CES previews". QuestBusters. February 1991. p. 1. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  5. ^ Barton, Matt (23 February 2007). "Part 2: The Golden Age (1985-1993)". The History of Computer Role-Playing Games. Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  6. ^ Yuzo Koshiro [@yuzokoshiro] (16 October 2021). "Any genre. FYI about two-third of the Eye of the beholder's music are Motohiro @mvorak's remarkable compositions. My songs are maybe five give or take" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Atari Lynx Catalog. Atari. 1993. p. 2.
  8. ^ a b Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 143, ISBN 978-0786458950
  9. ^ Owens, Dennis (June 1991). "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder". Computer Gaming World. p. 14. Retrieved 17 November 2013. This personalized combat perspective undoubtedly earned much of the praise for FTL's CGW Hall of Fame member, Dungeon Master. In a very real sense, Eye of the Beholder (SSI's first entry in the 'Legend Series', a new line of AD&D computer role-playing games) is Dungeon Master meets veteran storyteller George MacDonald.
  10. ^ Brenesal, Barry (24 September 1991). "SSI Challenges Your Intellect and Your Senses in a New Game". PC Magazine. Vol. 10, no. 16. p. 498.
  11. ^ "Computer and Video Games Issue 114" (27). May 1991: 28–29. Retrieved 18 January 2016. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ a b "Mega-CD: Eye of the Beholder" (PDF). Computer and Video Games (158): 107. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  13. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (July 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (171): 57–64.
  14. ^ a b "Review Crew: Eye of the Beholder (Sega CD)". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 62. EGM Media, LLC. September 1994. p. 36.
  15. ^ a b "Review Crew: Eye of the Beholder (Super NES)". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 59. EGM Media, LLC. June 1994. p. 33.
  16. ^ "NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: ドラゴンボールZ 武勇烈伝". Famitsu (in Japanese). No. 280. ASCII Corporation. 29 April 1994. p. 38. Archived from the original on 13 July 2022. Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  17. ^ a b Presley, Paul (June 1991). "Eye of the Beholder Review". The One. No. 33. emap Images. p. 80-81.
  18. ^ Bennet, Dale (February 1995). "Eye of the Beholder". Sega Power. No. 63. p. 75. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  19. ^ Michael L. House. "Eye of the Beholder Review". Allgame. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  20. ^ Maher, Jimmy (31 March 2017). "Opening the Gold Box, Part 5: All That Glitters is Not Gold". The Digital Antiquarian.
  21. ^ Owens, Dennis (June 1991). "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder". Computer Gaming World. No. 83. pp. 14, 16, 18. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  22. ^ Scorpia (June 1991). "Scorpion's View". Computer Gaming World. p. 51. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  23. ^ Scorpia (October 1993). "Scorpia's Magic Scroll of Games". Computer Gaming World. pp. 34–50. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  24. ^ Rausch, Allen; Lopez, Miguel (16 August 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games – Part II". Game Spy.
  25. ^ Johnson, Leif (5 February 2014). "The Top 11 Dungeons & Dragons Games of All-Time". Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  26. ^ "The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames". Paste. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  27. ^ Staff (October 1991). "The 50 best games EVER!". PC Format. No. 1. pp. 109–111.
  28. ^ "Gold – The Mark of a Winner". Computer and Video Games. No. 117. EMAP. August 1991. p. 3.
  29. ^ "SSI Corporate Background". Strategic Simulations, Inc. Archived from the original on 19 November 1996.
  30. ^ "Top Ad Winners Announced!". Computer Gaming World. No. 86. September 1991. p. 42.
  31. ^ "The Rumor Bag". Computer Gaming World. No. 79. Software Publishers Association. February 1991. p. 16.
  32. ^ "Scorpion News". Computer Gaming World. No. 87. Software Publishers Association. October 1991. p. 54.
  33. ^ "NWVault search for 'Eye of the beholder'". Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  34. ^ Watamaniuk, Jay. "Neverwinter Nights: The Eye of the Beholder Project". Archived from the original on 31 March 2009.
  35. ^ "Eye of the Beholder – unofficial version for C64/128". 21 June 2022. Retrieved 27 November 2022.

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