Eye of the Beholder (video game)
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|Eye of the Beholder|
MS-DOS Cover art
|Publisher(s)||Strategic Simulations, Inc.
Sega (Sega CD)
Pony Canyon, Inc. (PC-98)
Paul S. Mudra
|Release date(s)||April 16, 1990 (MS-DOS)
1994 (SNES, Sega CD)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Eye of the Beholder is a role-playing video game for computers and video game consoles developed by Westwood Associates. It was published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in 1990  for the MS-DOS operating system and later ported to the Amiga, the Sega CD, Game Boy Advance and the SNES. The Sega CD version features an exclusive soundtrack composed by Yuzo Koshiro. A port to the Atari Lynx handheld was developed by NuFX in 1993, but never officially released.
The game had two sequels, Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon, released in 1991, and Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor, released in 1993. The third game, however, was not written by Westwood, who 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.
Eye of the Beholder featured a first-person perspective in a three-dimensional dungeon, similar to Dungeon Master. The player controls four characters, initially, using a point-and-click interface to fight monsters. This can be increased to a maximum of six characters, by resurrecting one or more of the dead NPCs bone remains 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.
Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon
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
|Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor|
|Developer(s)||Strategic Simulations, Inc.|
Ving Co., Ltd. (PC-98)
|Release date(s)||1993 (MS-DOS)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video 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. Despite employing an updated version of the engine, interesting and oft-unique NPC selection and welcome gameplay tweaks such as an 'All Attack' button and the ability to use polearms from second rank, it was not well received. Reviews criticized the oversized and maze-like maps, lag issues, unchallenging battles, poorly designed puzzles and uninteresting storyline.
After defeating Dran the heroes tell the patrons of a local tavern about their success over Dran Draggore and how it saved the town. After that, a mysterious man enters the tavern and asks the heroes to save the ruined city, Myth Drannor, which is ruled by a Lich named Acwellan. The man then tells the heroes that they need to save Myth Drannor by getting an ancient artifact from the Lich known as the Codex. After the heroes accept the quest, the mysterious man teleports the heroes just outside Myth Drannor.
The explorable areas include the forest around the city, the mausoleum, and finally the city ruins including a mage guild and a temple.
Eye of the Beholder Trilogy (1995, SSI) was a rerelease of all the three games for MS-DOS on CD-ROM. They also (as did a number of other AD&D DOS Games) appeared later in Gamefest: Forgotten Realms Classics (2001, Interplay).
Game Boy Advance version
|Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder|
Game Boy Advance cover art
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
A game titled Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder was released for the Game Boy Advance that uses a "stripped down version of the 3rd edition D&D rules" with "only four basic character classes". It is not a port of the original game, though it possesses roughly the same plot. It bears stronger resemblance to the original Gold Box games, such as Pool of Radiance.
According to GameSpy, this game "only managed to be a curiosity for older gamers and an annoying Western-style RPG for a new generation of Nintendo fans who had no idea what a Gold Box game was".
The original Eye of the Beholder game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #171 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars. 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. 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, according to the reviewer, 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". According to GameSpy, despite the issues in the first Eye of the Beholder, "most players found the game well worth the effort".
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. 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.
GameSpy also commented that "Eye of the Beholder III was a classic example of a company churning out a quick sequel to a good game and simply not giving it the love and care it really deserves". Computer Gaming World's Scorpia wrote of Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor that since the game "is the closeout of the EOB series, one would expect it to be on the spectacular side. Unfortunately, for several reasons, that isn't the case". She stated that the graphics were inferior to the previous games', that "Aurally, the game is a nightmare", and that the "big fight at the end is a letdown", and concluded that "Assault on Myth Drannor is a disappointment ... [it] just doesn't stack up against the previous two games. What started as a series with great promise has, alas, ended on a mediocre note".
- Minelli, Frank (1990). "The Rumor Bag". Computer Gaming World (79):16
- QuestBusters, Vol. VIII, #2 (February 1991)
- 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 2009-03-26.
- Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 143, ISBN 078645895X
- Owens, Dennis (June 1991). "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder". Computer Gaming World. p. 14. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Kasavin, Greg (18 December 2002). "Dungeons & Dragons: Eye of the Beholder". GameSpot UK. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- Rausch, Allen (19 August 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games - Part V". GameSpy. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- "NWVault search for 'Eye of the beholder'". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (July 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (171): 57–64.
- Scorpia (June 1991). "Scorpion's View". Computer Gaming World. p. 51. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Rausch, Allen; Lopez, Miguel (16 August 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games - Part II". Game Spy.
- "Review Crew: Eye of the Beholder". Electronic Gaming Monthly (59) (EGM Media, LLC). June 1994. p. 33.
- "Review Crew: Eye of the Beholder". Electronic Gaming Monthly (62) (EGM Media, LLC). September 1994. p. 36.
- Rausch, Allen (17 August 2004). "A History of D&D Video Games - Part III". Game Spy. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- Scorpia (August 1993). "Eye of the Beholder III: Hit or Myth-Demeanor?". Computer Gaming World. p. 66. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- Eye of the Beholder series at MobyGames
- Eye of the Beholder can be played for free in the browser at the Internet Archive
- Interview with the Eye of the Beholder Project for Neverwinter Nights (archived)