The summoning is an older SSI offering, it was the last of the relatively bug free SSI role plays. The bugs creeping in from Dark Sun onwards. The most surprising thing about the Summoning is the really huge amount of game play. There is more play in one set summoning levels then in the entire Menzoberranzan.
A brief outline of the plot sees you having to enter the domain ruled over by the evil Shadow Weaver. Yet within the corridors of this domain are lots of creatures and characters. Your task is to make your way through the levels, fight off the creatures, guards and other nasties, find and confront Shadow Weaver. There are several essential stages you have to complete to progress One such is finding several wizards skulls, these skulls will each teach you part of a spell needed to teleport to another world and retrieve one half of the staff of summoning. Shadow Weaver has the other half and you don't have to be Einstien to work out what you have to do. There is at least 30 levels in the game, which is amazing for a game that fits on two 3.5 floppys. The levels are grouped into larger sets, for example 3 beginner's levels, 5 knight's levels, etc. Each set of levels has its own unique puzzles that need to solved before entering a new set.
The graphics are an overhead view, SSI calls it 3D, but its not, its the similar sort of view as Origin's Black Gate or Pagan, but naturally the graphics are very much simpler. A nifty idea that has not been used in any SSI game since is that the character stats and inventory are on a sliding window that you can click and drag up or down at will. Music and sound wise its a very poor show, a few creature noises would not of went astray, but all is silent, except for your characters footsteps. Combat is real time and fills up much of the gameplay.
The Summoning is a moderately difficult game, it certainly is not anywhere near as hard as Crusaders of the Dark Savant, but I did find it harder than any of the latter SSI releases such as Menzo and Ravenloft II. Therefore if you have been dissapointed with the latest bunch of role plays, then The Summoning may well be just what you need.
The one big critism I have is that the game started to become monotonous towards the end, the puzzles did not show much variation on the weight this plate down, push this level, use that teleporter, find that key. I also found it too easy to take damage in combat, which wasn't a problem as making healing potions was a cinch, it was again just monotonous ( but not as bad as the constant contraction of Numbskull in Star Trail ).
Try to horde as many keys and teleport runes as possible, on some earlier levels it is possible to access locked areas from another route, thus saving you from using your valuable key.
When fighting steer clear of teleporters or against walls. The only part of the game I got stuck in was a result of killing a key carrying Samurai who either fell into a teleporter ( with key ) or fell behind a wall ( with key ). I could not find the key and was stuck. I went to an earlier save and this time killed the Samurai in a safe spot and got the key.
The magic using creatures are fairly dumb, hide on the other side of a wall from them and they will cast their spells at the wall and themselves, you can usually just kick back and wait until they kill each other.
Use items sparingly, especially the " boots of levitation ", these are probably the single most valuable item you will find.
Click here to return to the island.