Do you love medieval/fantasy themes? Are you a fan of the classic Chaos Engine? If so, then the team at Electric Black Sheep are in the middle of developing an Amiga title that will be right up your alley, Project – Quest. And the best thing of all is that you don’t have to wait for the game to be fully complete for your to try out the game, as Electric Black Sheep has been releasing fully playable levels as they have been completed.
Project – Quest is a top-down fantasy based shooter featuring 8-way scrolling. While the plan for the game is for it to feature 8 different levels, each level (or chapter) has been released to the public as they have been completed. The first chapter was made available back in 2021, receiving a most positive reaction from the Amiga community, with the second and third chapters being pushed soon after. Following the recent release of the fourth chapter, we hear at VITNO thought that it was probably a good time to see what the game was all about.
When you load up the first chapter, there is no narrative as to the backstory to the game. You simply start moving your crossbow carrying warrior around the windswept landscape without much of an idea as to what you are supposed to do. That is, until you come across a scroll which reveals that you’ve probably just come back from some battle and are hoping that your wife has a nice hot meal waiting for you. The use of locating scrolls is the main mechanism that drive the story forward throughout the game, and as I progress through the game, I find that this mechanism works very well.
As you head off to find where you wife is at, it is hard not to be impressed with the strikingly attractive graphics. Not only are they detailed and vibrant but you instantly appreciate the little touches, like the blowing of loose leaves across the landscape. Up to this point, the pacing of the game is quite pedestrian with not much taking place. It is only when you discover that your wife has been murdered do things go up a notch as monsters start to come out to play. There is limited guidance on where you are supposed to go as you explore across the first chapter game world. Eventually, you will come across a building containing containing a prisoner who reveals that it was an army of monsters that killed your wife, along with other people from your village. As you learn that some villagers were taken as prisoners, you set off to find and free them all.
So as you seek out the remaining captives, you will comes across many monsters for you to vanquish. By no means does Project – Quest feature waves upon waves of enemies to kill. Instead, you can expect to take on monsters, skeletons, wizards, warriors and other hateful entities one or two at a time, which is really more right up my alley to be honest as it allows me to be tactical as to how I approach enemy combatants. Killing off a monster will typically require more than one shot and seeing them off is made a little more difficult as their AI is programmed to deviate away from a straight path towards you whenever they take a hit. Once again, it is this type of little nuance that I grow to appreciate about Project – Quest. The game feels like it tests your cognitive skills in addition to your general dexterity with a joystick. To help you with your quest, you will find many pick ups to collect such as health points, weapon upgrades, temporary shields and additional arrows for your crossbow.
Eventually, I came across a locked gate which had me stumped for a little while as I was certain that I had not come across a key anywhere during my travels. It took a bit of backtracking, but I eventually found there was a captive that I had missed earlier and it was only when I had freed the last prisoner did he give me the elusive key I was after. If I was to criticise Project – Quest in anyway it would be that there is a general lack of disclosure around your status within the game. You have no idea how many prisoners you need to free or have been freed, what weapon you are carrying, nor do you know how many arrows you have left. The additional of this type of information would go along way to giving the player a sense of they are faring.
With chapter one completed, I was looking forward to seeing what the next level would have in store. Upon commencing it, I notice that all of health and weapon status had reset and I realise that the levels within Project – Quest are somewhat isolated chapters. In fact, as each chapter is accessed via a pass code, it is actually possible to play any of the chapters without necessarily completing the other levels. I personally don’t mind this approach, especially if it means that we get a new chapter/level every 6 or so months.
Chapters 2 to 4 play in a similar vain to the first chapter in that you essentially need to go around locating all the prisoners (female this time – though they are somewhat ogreish in appearance) while taking on enemies one or two at a time. But Chapter 2 does stand out from the game as you locate an enemy assassin who has betrayed the king responsible for the slaughter of your people and agrees to help with your quest. Here you have the computer controlled assassin follow you around and will shoot at whatever you are shooting, effectively providing double the fire power. At times, this works really well as you can distract enemies to focus on you while your new friend unleashes death upon them. However, the computer controlled assassin will only follow you around while both of you are within screen view. The moment you head off too far ahead, he stops following…and this can happen a lot as the computer assassin moves quite slowly. This gets a little frustrating but you do have the option to proceed with this level alone if you want to – it’s just beneficial having the computer assassin when it comes to clearing some of the more stubborn enemies. If the coders can revisit the logic behind this co-op mechanism so as to have the computer assassin continue to follow when they are off screen then it will go a long way to making Chapter 2 a stand out level.
Chapters 3 and 4 see you working through dungeons alone. For me, a good game is one that ramps up the difficulty curve slowly as you progress and I think Project – Quest nails this aspect of its game design. Introducing incrementally more difficult enemies (I love the Mages in particular) and add in subtle changes to features within a level (like the introduction of tele-portal doorways in Chapter 4) and what you have is a game adventure that feels highly progressive.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Project – Quest. I would not say it is an overly difficult game. Yes, you will come to terms with the game over screen a few times but understanding the importance of planning how to take on enemy combatants so as to avoid having to deal with more than one at a time whenever you can will go a long way to success. The game’s production levels are of a high standard and while the tone of the tongue-in-cheek story narrative may offend those of you who are far more ‘woke’ than myself, I like how it provides a sense of our warrior’s attitude slowly becoming more mature and empathetic as he progresses through his quest. I may have had a late introduction to Project – Quest but I am hooked and can’t wait for the next chapter.
Project – Quest: Chapter I to IV is currently a free digital download from Itch.Io. Note that the system requirements for the game are a ECS or AGA Amiga with 2.0Mb chipRam, of which at least 1.5Mb free. I played Project – Quest via the FS-UAE emulator and was only able to get the game to successfully load up using an Amiga 4000 configuration.