Wiliness 3 Review
Some time ago Laurent Kermel, who was also interviewed for Alive
9, released Bold, a horizontal scrolling shooter, which cheated
a lot to achieve a resonable framerate. A bit later he brought
us Wiliness 3, a Dungeon Master clone, which has not been
reviewed for Alive so far. The game has been coded in GFA BASIC
between 1989 and 1992 but wasn't released before 2004. Even
though the game is not really finished, i'd suggest to get on
with it now...
Once again another adventure game appeared for this great
machine from ATARI. I couldn't wait to see it, and hastily
inserted Disk 1 of Wiliness 3. Then I powered up the machine. Of
course I didnt bother to read the "read.me" file, instead i just
double clicked onto the executable in a rush...
Wiliness 3 started loading and I could hardly wait for it to
finish... arf.. a blue screen appears.. Damn loading is taking
ages here! It would better be a quality title to justify such a
loading orgy, well perhaps it's just me :)
After the intro and a couple of disk swaps, Wiliness 3 kindly
asks for a save game disk. Erm? I tried to insert an empty disk,
which kept the drive alive for 2 seconds and then the game
I restarted my machine and tried another loading marathon. This
time I tried Disk 1 when it asked for the save game disk. What
can I say? It freezed up again. Damn...
Perhaps it's time to relax and insert a few words about the
story of the game...
Story in a Nutshell
Many years ago Dahen was the richtest and greatest human city in
the northern territories. Anyway, fifteen years ago the lake
turned black and during a mighty storm a flash destroyed the
temple of the city, killing all of the cities magicians at once.
One year later an ambitious and rich man arrived in Dahan. His
name was "Jackar". He spent alot of money and time to rebuild
the city. But since most of the population had left after the
initial catastrophe he decided to create a mysterious
underground maze. As a challenge a group of four heroes were
allowed to enter the maze each year. The prize of the, so called
"Northern Challenge" was legendary but never found so far, since
nobody ever left the maze since 10 years.
This time the so called guild of spheres send a team of four
heroes accompanied by a magical spirit to beat the challenge.
Well as you might have already guessed, you are taking the role
of this magical spirit to aide our heroes to fulfill their
So much for the story, but how should I ever get the game
Then a strange idea formed in my brain. "Why not read the
"read.me" file?" While scrolling through the file, I found on
disk 1, I got enlightened:
"Run Gallery.prg first and create your own characters and save
them to an empty disk"
Hmmm, so be it! I started the Gallery program on Disk 1, which
btw is also called the "Gallery Disk".
I have to admit that the character graphics are nicely made. But
the different states could have been a bit more different in
their optical appearance. Anyway, it was quite easy to pick the
characters, like the strongest one etc.
The only thing, that made me a bit nervous was all the rune
texts around. My hope I could pass on with the game without
reading a thick manual began to fade away while i was saving my
characters to an empty disk. Now we could really start...
After a while a blue screen appeared with an black mountain.
BOOOM! A vulcano appears and hmmm, thats it... Well, I expected
a bit more tbh, but it's better than nothing and we shouldn't
forget to mention the sample running in the background.
Surprisingly this time the character disk worked and I found
myself trapped inside some nicely painted dungeon...
There was some eerie silence and worse than that, the mouse
pointer moved slow and bouncy like: "Where the hell did all my
CPU time go?"
After exploring the dungeon a bit - not without bumping into the
wall at least ten times - I have to admit that Wiliness 3 is
very cool. The graphics are nicely done and the sound engine is
not bad either. For example within the dungeon, you can hear
dripping water which adds a lot to the atmosphere.
After a few steps, I stumbled upon some meat and fruits lying on
the floor. Since I am a greedy bastard I took em all ;) well you
would expect stuff like that to appear in a Dungeon Master clone
but then i noticed something special about Wiliness 3. The right
mouse button let's you attack the enemy. This will be a bit
confusing at the beginning, but it's a nice feature if you get
used to it.
If you want to check the state of your heroes you'll be pleased
to find a clearly structured status screen. The usability of
that screen is so good, that even a complete fool would
understand the handling within seconds.
You can detect your heroes running low on food or water and
resupply them by simply stuffing some food into the heroes
It's also a wise idea to use the "eye" to have a closer look at
scrolls and other items. Since the scrolls usually give you
valuable hints how to solve the game you should make sure to
Usabilitywise the controls could have been improved by a direct
backwards key. While roaming the maze you can use the arrow keys
to move around, but it seems nobody ever thought about using the
"down" key. Instead You have to turn around manually if you want
to move back.
While cursing about this shortsighted implementation of controls
I noticed an icon on my game tab. By clicking it, I figured that
I was able to finetune the formation of my characters. My setup
was badly in need of a fix since i had the weakest guy leading
the party. I quickly changed to a better setup with my ant guy
at the front and I'd strongly advise to have a look at this
formation setup as well, if you are planning to survive Wiliness.
After some more time in the maze I noticed another cool feature
of Wiliness 3. It seems each of the characters is able to speak
on its own. Texts in different colours for each hero appear
below the game screen. A lot of the talk was about the dripping
water I mentioned earlier, and according to our heroes talk it
seems to originate from a lake above the maze.
Suddenly the whole screen faded to black. Hmmm, I guess there
must be some kind of spell to get us "enlightened" again. But
which one? And where do I get it from?
Well, one has to read the manual to get any further, which is
luckily avaiable for free from the authors homepage. Just to
avoid you the hazzle to search for it, a spell called "NCH"
gives you a magical light which is needed to continue from here
on. If you don't remember it you have to restart the game...
To figure how to get these spells to work right seemd a bit
strange at first. It seemed you needed those odd runes but lucky
enough there is another way. You can just type the spell-
shortcuts under the pictures of your heroes. Not really that
hard, I guess :) Just make sure to type the shortcuts in the
right place and press on I, II, III or IV inside the rune table
to activate them.
Since i have been walking around the first level for a while and
couldn't find any more keys, even though I noticed that I walked
in circles for some time now, I decided to give the "open door"
spell a try. If you are interested "CMF" should do the job.
To get more more hints and lots of other information you might
want to visit the Wiliness 3 website at:
good and the
Wiliness 3 is one of the better Dungeon Master clones. The game
play is fast paced. And Laurent succeded to capture the spirit
of the genre. He also added some strange nuances here and there.
I also have to mention that the graphics are well done.
However, where there's light there's also shadow and I feel a
bit of frustration about some of the controls since im to used
to the ones of FTL's Dungeon Master, but perhaps that's just a
But there is one more thing, that is not to be ignored. It's the
major downside of Wiliness 3. I am speaking about the fact,
that the game is just not complete. You can play until Level 6
only, but it will be still worth it!
Atmosphere : 8/10
Gameplay : 7/10
Control : 5/10
Sound : 6/10
Graphics : 9/10
Overall : 7/10
If you want all information about this game, you better follow
the link I added above and make sure to save all the data to
your hard disk or floppy. It will help you a lot while playing
I hope I could get you a bit interested into this fine game!
Thanks to Laurent for another quality game for a dead machine.
Let's hope he will finish it one happy day :)
Marcer for Alive, 2006