Gateway to Apshai is the prequel to Epyx' Temple of Apshai RPG trilogy. Compared to the Temple games, Gateway is much more action-oriented, though it still retains some RPG elements. The premise is simple: as an adventurer prophecied to reclaim the fabled Temple of Apshai you seek the Gateway through an unending sequence of increasingly difficult dungeons, finding treasure and killing monsters.
Each level, you can choose which of the 16 dungeons you wish to explore. There are eight levels in the game; the last level perpeptually repeats itself. All in all, there are 128 different dungeons to explore, resulting in a fair amount of replay value. You start off poorly equipped with just a dagger and a leather armour. As you explore each room of the dugeon, you will find better and eventually even magical weapons and armour, other helpful items such as spell scrolls and healing salves, and loads of treasure. You have a limited amount of time to explore each dungeon; when time runs out, you continue to the next level and some or all of your stats increase, depending on your performance. The dungeons themselves are guarded by a variety of monsters, from snakes and bats to mummies and vampires, and by deadly traps. Fortunately, you can attempt to find traps as well as secret doors.
Though the visuals are dated and sound is sparse, Gateway to Apshai is still highly playable. Sure, the gameplay may be more limited -there are no upgradeable skills or matching armour sets- but the combination of exploring dungeons, killing monsters and finding loot is as addictive in this thirty-year-old action RPG as it is in any of today's available Diablo clones.
|GRAPHICS - 6/10|
|Dated, but more than adequate. Monsters look like monsters, weapons look like weapons and treasure chests look like treasure chests. What more would you want?|
|SOUND - 3/10|
|No music. Some minor sound effects when you fight, die or pick up items.|
|PLAYABILITY - 9/10|
|Enter a dungeon, kill the monsters and loot the treasure. Become more powerful, then do it again. This simple combination keeps millions of WoW-players glued to their screens, and it works here too.|
|OVERALL - 9/10|
|Action RPG history and a great game to boot!|