Sunday, 17 April 2022

Missed Classic - Twin Kingdom Valley - WON! and Final Rating

Written by Morpheus Kitami

Me and the boys about to fire up a text adventure

Last time, I had explored half of the map in my noble quest to rob everyone and everything I could of their treasure. It wasn't going well, primarily because everyone else was on a distasteful quest to kill me and take everything not nailed down. Those monsters, those evil, evil gorillas, elves and trolls. I must use my wits to prevent them from stopping me.

This is one psychotic gorilla

Last time, I did not quite save at the proper time, and now somehow the small dagger is not where it once was. I have no idea where it went. It just disappeared. This seems to be a sign that things have gotten mixed around since last time. I encounter a gorilla south of the path to the north, and he's got two clubs and an axe. How the hell did he even get that? Anyway, I can't kill him, the axe is just too powerful.

I feel like someone was trying to cheat me

I decide to just ignore him and head to that cave. It doesn't actually connect the two parts of the map, it's just a small sideplace. You know, a surprising number of descriptions you could give underground passages sound rather strange out of context. Not that there's much here, just another dagger and some locked doors. This better not be one long chain of keys.

This guy better be quaking in his boots, because before the game is out 
I'm going to be drinking beer from his skull

The real star attraction in this cave is The Hall of the Forest King, presumably there's a Mountain King somewhere. As soon as I step into his room I'm yanked away and I have to give his guard something. I try the crystal ball and he calls me a vagabond. I'm sent to another room, but I at least get to keep the crystal ball. Now I'm ticked off. This teleports me to the witch's maze. I didn't even realize it at first. There's only one maze? That's...good, actually.

A red canyon in a valley, what magic is this?

Now for actually going north. This leads to a canyon. A very long canyon. One that goes east to a waterfall and west to the lake. It's at least 9 rooms wide. I say at least 9, because the eastern most room I can reach is infested with crocodiles that might as well just instakill me. There's no way up north, unless the crocodiles are acting as guards. There is a cave. Hehe, a diamond, this is great! Two passages, let's go west.

This is less fun than you imagine, since he moves in and out of the room

And another maze. I spoke too soon. I try fighting the elf. Doesn't go well. Apparently the wooden rod is a terrible weapon. Even when I'm not dropping it or breaking it, it takes far too long to kill something, if it's even possible. That'll be fun to read about, me desperately trying to kill an elf for two hours. Reloading, and getting that dagger in case I actually need to kill something and when I grab the diamond, I am informed I have too much in my inventory. This is the first time the inventory limit comes up, its seemingly six items. This is going to be so slow. Nevertheless, this is an actual treasure and increases my score.

The other passage leads to seemingly the same maze. Where I really get that holdall. What is the small holdall? I dunno. If I were to make an uneducated guess, I would say it increases my carrying capacity, but I can't be sure. I put some stuff inside it, so maybe it functions like a bag of holding in Dungeons & Dragons. More importantly, if there's a path to that northern castle, its hidden inside that damn maze. Speaking of which, I didn't realize it last time, but the existence of mazes means that a lot of these 175 rooms are literal dead weight.

Since I'm stuck here without any better option, I start wandering around hoping to catch some monster unaware. I take a couple of swipes at a gorilla with the dagger, but following my enemies doesn't work very well as compared to them. But luck is by my side, as the gorilla with the two clubs and an axe drops the axe. I barely escape with my life, but MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! First order of business...recovery, of course, then the Inn keeper. I don't mean kill him, I just ask him politely for the axe he has. He gives it to me.

Fun fact, drinking too much beer in this game will kill you. This may have resulted in my death once or twice.

But that's enough of me dying, now other inhabitants of Twin Valley are going to get it! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So I start killing things. First it was a gorilla, then another gorilla, and another, and another. This was getting suspicious. I didn't come here on my noble quest to kill everyone and steal everything just to be called Morpheus, noble adventurer and slayer of gorillas. Where's that troll? Where's that sword? Wait, he was going into that sealed off grate after I unlocked it. Aha, he's wandering around there! So I enter, he's nowhere to be found. I'll just do the maze. It's something I can map anyway.

The witch. I feel confident I can take her on, now that I have two axes. Unfortunately, it seems like the troll fell into HERE. Which means a couple of things. Either I have to ruin my current playthrough, of which the only item of note I have are two axes, or hope he can find the exit. And I should point out this maze is annoying. Probably not the most annoying maze ever made, since I don't need to drop items, but it's pretty close. Every room has its own unique name. This is not a problem. Every room is a sea of confusing one way paths leading in on themselves. I got to type in every single one into my mapping program, and then put in all the various one direction paths. If this were on paper it would look to an untrained eye that I was just drew over it in rage. I can get out, but there are potential problems here.

While mapping the maze through I catch the troll alone. Now's my chance! Twas a mighty battle. Me hitting him with my axe, him hitting me with his dagger. Trolls are not known for their intelligence. But I emerge triumphant, in victory. I take my spoils...and the light on my lamp flickers. Oh, no, without that I'll be alone in the, wrong game. I'll have a witch for company, and it won't be long before she's alone in the dark. Well, I'll just get out of here.

And it leads to the Hall of the Forest King. Whereupon I get thrown into the forest king's dungeon. Aha, I have axes now, where I can kill the guard, but I still get sent to the other room afterwards. And then the lamp dies. Soooooooooo...I think this means that after I finish mapping I should restart this. Something also of note, there is a door in the locked grate that leads to that cave with The Hall of the Forest King. That means these two sections are heavily connected.

How do I know he's the keeper of the mountains?

This maze is more annoying, since there's no description of where I am, but its not too difficult to get past. Once out of it I find myself another task I must accomplish. Can't there just be some place I can climb up? Sigh...I try walking out, and I accidentally walk back into the same maze. DESPITE WALKING UP. Fortunately, I find another way out and can now explore the northern half of the map.

Ah, beautiful

From the mountains to the desert. And with new wonderful trash enemies, sand lurkers. One has a bag of silver I'll no doubt need for some nefarious...I mean heroic purpose. So I explore this desert area. It's smaller than the other half. Hopefully that just means more inside the castle I keep seeing. Also, this desert is complex in terms of rooms. More complex than it needs to be. Like, it makes sense even for a forest to have a silly layout, but a desert where there's NOTHING going on? Meh.

Continuing the fine text adventure tradition of lame castle interiors

I can just walk into the castle. As soon as I'm in, I get attacked by a guard, but he isn't following me room to room. The picture for the interior is new, but its just a simple room with whatever's inside. The real prize here is that I find a Cauldron of Oil. Which I can refill my lamp with. That means I don't need to restart.

Ah, scenic dungeon

While the ground floor is nothing special, there's a vast dungeon under the castle. Like, holy crap. And tons of locked doors. Beer too, so my only troubles relate to dealing with these guards. I spend some time mopping them up. This leaves the grand staircase up.

Can you guess what time it is?

Why, it's the Desert King. I assume the definite article here. You know what that means. REGICIDE! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

With one whack, the king is dying, and he runs away. One of his guards arrives, no doubt to try to save his master. His efforts are in vain, for he only takes two whacks before he starts dying. With a third, his efforts are over, and the king returns. He does not take three blows to take down. Haha, now I shall explore the rest of this floor...and it isn't long before the next guard puts me into a dying state and I die. Overconfidence strikes again.

Once things get busy, they get really busy

So reloading a save, I end up fighting a pair of guards with the weapons I'm not used to fighting against. In their hands they are not too deadly, at least, they're less deadly than my fight against the Desert King and the royal guards. Now I have to figure out which weapon I should get for smiting my enemies. Is it a raw damage calculation, and if so, which is the best? Or are some specialist weapons preferred? I test out the broad sword on the king, and hole in one baby!

What an...okay throne room

After clearing out all the guards for real, it was time to explore the upper floor. There's surprising little here on the actual floor, but once I start exploring the towers I see some worthwhile stuff held by dangerous enemies. A witch carrying a staff of gold...a dragon, just hanging out, carrying a master key. Being in that room for one turn drained the hell out of my health, so I think I'll just come back later when I'm not in danger of getting killed by the mean old dragon.

Upon finishing up here, taking what I have south, past the moat, it closes after I leave. Ah, damn, does that mean I can't solve all my problems by beheading everyone, or is the problem that I didn't behead enough people? I guess this is an adventure game and not a text adaptation of a Boris Vallejo painting. Okay, I guess I need to do some testing here. Is it possible to enter the castle and not have the moat draw up as I leave? It only happens after I start liberating people on the ground floor or above of their possessions. So I have to drop everything I can outside now rather than later. While the game has a throw command I am not allowed to throw things across rooms. So no throwing things out of the castle from the drawbridge.

So I take the three items that look like treasure of some kind out of the castle. I had dropped everything except a single axe, in fear of having to drop something important inside the castle. Naturally, when I return someone has stolen my small flint stone. Which I need to light my lamp, in order to travel back through that maze. After successfully dealing with the lurker who stole it and not dropping all my weapons I make my way to the maze and then where the voice boomed out...only to realize he wanted a treasure chest. Uh...damn.

I still have something obvious to do, kill that witch. Conveniently, now the troll is not in the there a solution to it then? Hmm, I'll have to try it out later. But the witch proves to be more troublesome. I deal enough damage to her a few times to get her weak, but that doesn't impede her spellcasting ability. Resting long enough for me to regenerate to full health also allows her to recover. Because of course it does. Meanwhile, if I drop a sword she gets two attacks per my one. I try for considerably longer than I should to kill her, which fails horribly. I just can't kill her. I guess I need to get stronger somehow.

Can I get past the Forest King? Well, I try one of those bags of silver, and he still calls me a vagabond. What do you even want? You're awfully egotistical for a fellow hiding out inside a cave, unable to do anything without his guard. Hey, once you've killed one king, what's two? What better title is there for a noble adventurer than Kingslayer?

At this point its clear that I can't actually advance without looking something up, because I'm sure I missed some small detail in some small room I might have missed because its connected to the mountains somewhere. You know what that means.

Walkthrough time. Sorry if you were reading along and wanted to chime in with a solution to my problem, but I wagered that wasn't about to happen.

Drinking from the Watersmeet allows us to see hidden doors by magic. This is

not hinted at within the game but it is mentioned the place is magical as part

of the background story, so it's natural to try.

Nice, I'm not a raging alcoholic. Ever since The Kristal that has been a big question in my life. Of course this wasn't something I could solve, I don't seem to have that part of the manual. Watersmeet was at the very western room of the canyon separating the two halves of the game. I wonder if this helps with mazes? The cave leading north is not too far from here.

All the interiors here are just as unimpressive as the rest of them

Even better, there's a secret door! And what's behind that secret door? A gold key! Problem solved. Uh...where was that gold door? Inside the castle? Well, I'm sure we'll find something. There's a secret door inside this room, leading to a place in the Forest King's domain that has another gold door. Where does that lead? Inside the castle. All my problems are over now.

Only, that doesn't help me in finding anything inside the castle. The only secret passage is one from the royal bedroom to the western hallway on the upper floor. I'm not going to post the map again, but the upper floor here is unnecessarily confusing, since from the eastern hallway you can go southeast, but the southern hallway won't let you go northwest.

Further, exploration of the mountains east of the waterfall reveals a path to the northern half of the map (but not back) and a bag of gold. My score is up to 425 now, that, plus the items liberated from the castle and the diamond. Curiously, the bag of silver I found earlier doesn't affect the score, but others do. Meh.

The Forest King can be pleased by giving him the diamond, however, all this gets me is an amulet that allows me free passage through the throne room. That's good, and I assume that I can steal it back at some point. What now? There's a secret door in here, but it's locked. I spend a few days off the game, and sometimes returning to explore more. Nope, I don't have anything. I really don't have anything.

Why am I fighting him? Do I REALLY need a reason?

Well, the walkthrough tells me what I'm missing. I was supposed to give the witch the crystal ball. Okay, that's clever, even if I doubt I would have thought of it. Now, to see what is inside the room the key opens. A dwarf, with a diamond ring. I for one, am glad to return to our regularly scheduled maiming of random inhabitants of the valleys.

Fortunately, there are three such bronze doors and that was only one of them. Though the increase in score is greatly appreciated. Doors number 2 and 3 are inside the castle, and the second I open the first one I find a princess runs out, having not recognized me. Uh...well, I'm probably so caked in blood that I'm a permanent shade of red. You'd flee from someone looking like that duel-wielding broadswords too. I try opening the door while having the uniform in my inventory, and she still flees. Maybe the amulet is supposed solve this, but since its in my holdall...AHA! She tells me to go to the forest king for my reward. Wonder why the desert king even kidnapped her, oh well.

Before I do this, I check the third door, funny how the witch has a key to the castle dungeons, and there's an ill-giant here. Aha, I think I get this, I have to give him water to drink! Or beer! Only, when I return he's gone. Oh, well. Funny, I've been spending so much time in this game running around performing a murderous version of the adventure gamer's creed, only to now all of a sudden actually care.

It turns out he was wandering around the castle, he had picked up several weapons. He's trying to follow me, he's just slow to move. Since giving him water doesn't work, I figure I should lead him to Watersmeet, whereupon he heals. So...uh...what exactly does this help me with? Is he going to start attacking people who wish me dead. If so...uh...I think that's already been solved...wait...THE DRAGON!

I'm a great hero! I'm not a psycho running around murdering random people at all!

After killing the dragon I suddenly get a great realization. Every single enemy I've killed has actually been I'm not just a random thief masquerading as a hero, I'm an actual hero. Huh. Hopefully all those elves I tried to kill after freeing will forgive me. I won't even take back that diamond I gave to the forest king or try to get my ball back from the witch. Guess I should just clear up whatever is still left hanging.

I explore the rest of the castle. One tower has nothing, but the last has the chest the voice in the cave wanted. Unfortunately, it requires all my carrying capacity and I'm not about to make the giant carry it. Its a been troublesome, owing to the game increasing how quickly my thirst meter drops while walking around the desert.

A river of gold...doesn't look very impressive, does it?

The voice no longer speaks when I enter the cave, and the area is just opened up. This, it seems, is the secret I was supposed to uncover. The secret of life. Whatever it is, it's as heavy as the chest, so I guess I'll have to come back for this.

The treasure the forest king gives me for rescuing his daughter is a silver key, something I hardly needed at this point. It seems like the valuable metal keys actually increase my score. Once I get everything back, including the secret and the chest, I am at 844. I'm guessing I should try to find the diamond again and take some minor treasures I missed somewhere, but I feel like after having saved a princess, killed a king and a dragon, and finishing it all off with obtaining the secret of life, that I've done enough to "win" the game.

Session Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

I have mixed feelings, the game was fun, but it's hard to call it a good adventure game. It basically plays out like a lot of open-ended action games, except of course in text form. The highlight of the game, the NPC mechanic was really cool and something I thought should be used more in games. Unshackling NPCs does a lot in making a world feel alive, the staticness of adventure game worlds is a problem even for the best of games. It does feel somewhat wasted in a game where all it seems to amount to is a feature to the game's combat.


Puzzles and Solvability

The puzzles were all logical and somewhat on the easier side. I think the only flaw is in the game's size and the inventory limit. Having to haul multiple inventory engulfing treasures across the many rooms of the game is tedious, and dangerous considering the thirst mechanic. Really, all the game's problems lie in the vast size of it. Did I miss a room? Identifying the problem when there are 175 potential places for it, and possibly a moving one too. It's not too bad seeing it in retrospect, but you don't know that at first.

Of course, all this only applies if I actually just missed a few rooms and there's not some complex puzzle where I'm supposed to take the crystal ball, a staff, create a bridge to heaven and then kill God or something. I'm sure those last few points are in some secret door inside one of the mazes, since those are the only rooms that don't mention the exits.


Interface and Inventory

I don't have many complaints in the interface department. Everything is laid out to you at the start and everything moves smoothly. I wish there was a way of shortening the wait command, or the myriad ways of attacking enemies. Perhaps the pictures drew a little too slowly, but a necessary evil in my case.

That said, interacting with inventory items is basically non-existent. Its a two-edged sword, because everything about it is laid out the second you walk into a room that has the item.


Story and Setting

I have no idea what is going on with any of this, since apparently there was a kidnapping going on that nobody bothered to mention on the cover or in the description. There are very few words on the back cover.


Sound and Graphics

While bereft of sound, the game had unique screens for every single room in the game, outside of mazes. At least I think they're unique. It does this through some fancy technology I definitely understand and is not something I'm trying to bluff my way through or anything.

Truth be told, I don't have any strong feelings one way or another. It just Some look like they shouldn't have even bothered, others look nice. I understand why it was done, I just think there's not much point to the interior pictures.


Environment and Atmosphere

As silly as it sounds, I thought the game did a good job of making me feel like a pulp adventurer wandering across the land looking for treasure. A lone man, motivated solely by his own greed, fighting man and monster alike, with a trusty blade by his side and his wits about him. It sort of falls thin towards the end, since one would have to be quite mad to haul a treasure chest across the desert just because a voice said so.

That said, I feel like there are too many rooms whose descriptions are just "desert" or "mountains". I am pretty sure I missed some of those at some point, which probably cost me a point or two.


Dialogue and Acting

Well, that's not really what the NPCs here are known for.


3+4+2+5 is 14, divided by 0.6 is 23.3, or 23. Let's just add another point for the NPCs. And 24. Laukku got the closest score with 22, not that far off.

Ultimately, the game is fun, but it's sort of hard to recommend on its merits as an adventure game. However, I think this would be interesting to see as something remade in the vein of Legend of Zelda.


  1. I haven't read the post yet, but that Manowar image brought joy to my Heart of Steel

    1. Shows how well I pay aattention to Manowar lyrics; My first thought when you mentioned Heart of Steel was of Crimson Glory.

  2. A fair rating I think, the NPC system is ahead of its time and fairly well implemented for such a new feature. But the graphics HURT! Some are better but some of those rooms the colours just clash so much that you almost feel it would have been better to left some spaces black.

    1. A better game should use the very same system. I feel like its been mimicked in lesser ways by some games, but its obvious that its not quite the same.

  3. As soon as I saw the screenshot I recognised that parser!

    This game terrified me as a youngin. Something about the way the troll was free to roam from screen to screen, taking items and beating you mercilessly to death with them. Plus a certain lack of abstract reasoning required for the typical adventure game puzzle - in my defence, I was only four...

    A few years ago I tracked down a copy, fired up an emulator and mapped the thing out. It was quite satisfying, although I'm not sure whether that was due to the game's qualities as a game or simply putting a ghost of my childhood to rest. I agree that the NPCs moving around with their own agency does give the world an organic feeling. It's almost more like an RPG than an adventure, only your character progression mostly comes from equipment upgrades.

    It seems like you missed out on finding the Meaning of Life (which, it transpires, is an actual item that sits in your inventory). I can't remember how I got it exactly, though it did involve a somewhat complex navigation of both inventory and environment. Even then I had a nagging feeling I hadn't uncovered _all_ the game's secrets.

    1. Yeah, I definitely see that troll being that terrifying if you're young and pick it up thinking you're going to get a simple treasure hunt. I myself had that absolute terror from Last Half of Darkness, which everyone who ever played that will know what I mean.
      Either way, it does feel like something that could have only come from this period of gaming. Even modern text adventures that lead this way tend to be tighter experiences that wouldn't stand for having 175 rooms in their game.

  4. Nix that. You literally said you found the secret of life! *facepalm*