Eye of the Beholder (computer game, 1991)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eye of the Beholder is a computer role-playing game by Westwood Associates and SSI from 1991. It is based on the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons role-playing rules and was initially released for DOS and Amiga , later also for PC-98 , SNES and Mega-CD . In the same year, the successor Eye of the Beholder 2: Legend of Darkmoon was published. In 2002 Pronto Games released a remake for the Game Boy Advance portable console under the same title .


The city of Deep Water in the Forgotten Realms is increasingly haunted by creatures from the underworld, especially the sewers. The princes of Tiefwasser, chaired by Piergeiron Paladinssohn, therefore decide to send four adventurers to find and fight the cause of the invasion. When the group enters the sewer, the passage behind them collapses suddenly. From now on, the heroes are on their own and have to penetrate deeper into the dark catacombs to fulfill their mission and find a way back. The leader of the enemy hordes, the viewer (ger .: beholder ) Xanathar, meanwhile, stepped up its efforts to subdue the city. As the group learns, only the "staff of the Silvas" can stop him, which in turn is in the possession of the dwarf ruler. As it turns out, the dark elves are also trying to get hold of this weapon in order to take out Xanathar and then take over deep water themselves.


At the beginning of the game, the player creates a group of up to four characters. As stipulated in the Dungeons & Dragons rulebook , he can choose between different races (human, elf, half-elf, dwarf, gnome, halfling) and classes (fighter, thief, mage, cleric, paladin, ranger). In addition, he sets himself on one of nine attitudes, which result from the combinations good / neutral / bad (corresponds to ethics) with either righteous, neutral or chaotic (corresponds to worldview). The character attributes (strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence, charisma) are randomly rolled by the program, but can still be adjusted later. In the course of the game, two more characters with defined characteristics can be added to the group as supporters.

The adventurers are controlled by the player from the first person perspective in real time through the twelve level dungeon . It is largely controlled with the mouse or on the console using a gamepad via a point & click user interface with buttons for the direction of movement and various actions (attack / magic). Control using keyboard commands is also possible. As usual in earlier computer role-playing games, the program does not create a map of the surroundings ( Automap ) that can be viewed , but rather the player himself has to draw. In the dungeon, the group encounters numerous enemy creatures who move through the environment to a limited extent or pursue the group of heroes. Battles are fought in real time, which means that, in addition to the tactical component, the player's ability to react to attacks is also required. For killed opponents, the game characters receive experience points that allow them to rise in character level when they reach predetermined limits, which in turn can improve the hero's abilities. As is usual in role-playing games, values ​​can also be improved via equipped items. The magic system complies with the requirements of the rules, which is why magic users memorize their sayings overnight and only use or recharge after a sleep phase. The characters also need to eat regularly in order not to starve.


SSI, which thanks to the D&D license was able to celebrate great success with the first games in the Gold Box series , was in a difficult business phase when it was commissioned. The sales of the Gold Box titles had fallen continuously and there was a lack of a new title with strong appeal. SSI was one of the first publishers to bring a game based on Dungeon Master , combined with the AD&D license, onto the market. The titles initially developed by Westwood Associates were later referred to as the black box series because of their cover design. The original series designation according to the package design was A Legend Series . It was the first AD&D game that was played exclusively from the first person perspective and was entirely in VGA graphics .

The ports on Amiga and PC-98 were very close to the original, the only limiting factor for the Amiga version was the smaller color palette. Soundtracks (by Yuzo Koshiro, among others ) and an end sequence were added to the game on the SNES and mega-CD , the mega-CD also received an automap, cut scenes during the game and voice output.

A port to the Atari Lynx handheld console was completed, but was never published because of the high production costs. It was only made accessible by a collector decades later.


publication Rating
ASM 10/12 10/12
Amiga joker 87% 87%
Computer and video games 95% 96%
Dragon 5/5
Electronic Gaming Monthly 7.2 / 10 6.2 / 10
Mega fun 75%
Play time 87%
Power play 79% 79%
Total Grade 2-
Video games 79% 61%

The majority of the PC versions were positively received.

"At long last, IBM owners need no longer complain. They now have a game like Dungeon Master - a magnificent game that promises to be only the first in a long (we hope very long) line of releases. "

“Now, at last, IBM owners have a Dungeon Master-style game - and a great one too. It remains to be hoped that many more parts will follow. "

- Dennis Owens : Computer Gaming World

“So, the bells and whistles are fairly well-established. Work needs to be done in the combat areas, plot has to be developed, more interaction with NPCs is needed, and certainly better endings must be constructed. If that can be accomplished (and there's no reason why not), the Legend series will become one of the leaders in the CRPG field. "

“So all the trimmings are pretty well known. Fine-tuning is still needed in the battles, a narrative needs to be developed, more interaction with NPCs is necessary, and a better ending is absolutely necessary. If you can do that (and there's no reason why not), the Legend franchise will become one of the premier RPG franchises. "

- Scorpia : Computer Gaming World

“For fans of well-kept dungeon trips, this classic is definitely worth more than a look. However, in addition to patience, you should also bring a Nintendo mouse: With the normal joypad, the tough fights can hardly be won. "

- Michael Anton : Total! (SNES)

“A few years ago I was a big Eye of the Beholder fan, but times are changing. Compared to mega-games like the Final Fantasy series, Beholder seems boring. "

- Robert Zengerle : Video Games (SNES)

Several magazines have Eye of the Beholder on their leaderboards. In 1991 it listed the PC format among the 50 best games of all time. IGN ranked it 8th in 2014 in their "The Top 11 Dungeons & Dragons Games of All Time". The American entertainment magazine Paste also put Eye of the Beholder in 8th place in their 10 best D&D computer games in 2015 . The Gamestar ranked it 97th of the 100 best role-playing games in 2019.

According to Allen Rausch from Gamespy , Eye of the Beholder stood out technically at the time. According to another retrospective, the game did not revolutionize the genre anywhere, but its straightforward approach made it easier for many players to access it. This made it one of the more popular D&D games from SSI. But as much as the game was praised for its technical qualities, the lack of a cinematic end credits was seen in retrospect as one of the biggest failings.

The game sold around 129,000 times and was therefore very successful. It was named the Best MS-DOS Game by the Software Publishers Association in April 1991 . In the same year Westwood and SSI brought the sequel Eye of The Beholder 2: Legend of Darkmoon on the market.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Jimmy Maher: Opening the Gold Box, Part 5: All That Glitters is Not Gold. In: The Digital Antiquarian. March 31, 2017, Retrieved July 15, 2019 (American English).
  2. ^ Matt Barton, Shane Stacks: Dungeons and Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games . 2nd Edition. CRC Press, 2019, ISBN 978-1-351-27339-8 , pp. 264–267 ( google.de [accessed July 10, 2019]).
  3. a b Allen Rausch, Miguel Lopez: A History of D&D Video Games - Part II. In: Gamespy. August 16, 2004, accessed July 15, 2019 .
  4. a b c Cory Brock: Eye of the Beholder. In: Hardcore Gaming 101. November 20, 2011, accessed July 15, 2019 (American English).
  5. Focus: Atari Lynx . In: Retro Gamer . Special issue 2/2016. Heise, 2016, ISBN 978-3-95788-075-8 , pp. 164 .
  6. Martin Gaksch: Warpzone: Atari . In: Video Games . tape 03/1993 . Markt & Technik, 2016, ISBN 978-3-95788-075-8 , p. 35 ( kultboy.com [accessed April 13, 2019]).
  7. ^ Joachim Nettelbeck: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Amiga Joker, special issue 3, 1992, p. 23.
  8. Max Magenauer: Eye of the Beholder. Amiga Joker, August / September 1991, p. 54 f.
  9. Eva Hoogh: Eye of the Beholder. ASM, July 1991.
  10. Eva Hoogh: evening comes the class enemy. ASM, May 1991, p. 32.
  11. ^ A b Eye of the Beholder . In: Computer and Video Games . No. 114, May 1991, pp. 86-89. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  12. Hartley, Patricia and Kirk Lesser: The Role of Computers . In: Dragon . No. 171, July 1991, pp. 57-64.
  13. ^ A b Review Crew: Eye of the Beholder . In: EGM Media (Ed.): Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 59, June 1994, pp. 33, 36.
  14. ^ Eye of the Beholder. Mega Fun, 8/1994, p. 94.
  15. ^ Adrian Pumphrey: Eye of the Beholder. PlayTime 6/1991, p. 43.
  16. Michael Hengst: Eye of the Beholder. PowerPlay, special issue 3, 1991, p. 33.
  17. Michael Hengst: Eye of the Beholder. PowerPlay, 5/1991, p. 22.
  18. a b c https://www.ninretro.de/game-1-2677.html
  19. ^ Eye of the Beholder. Video Games, 1/1995, p. 90.
  20. ^ Eye of the Beholder. Video Games, 7/1994, p. 95.
  21. ^ Dennis Owens: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder . In: Computer Gaming World . June 1991, p. 14. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  22. ^ Scorpia: Scorpion's View . In: Computer Gaming World . June 1991, p. 51. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  23. Editor: The 50 best games EVER! . In: PC format . No. 1, October 1991, pp. 109-111.
  24. ^ Leif Johnson: The Top 11 Dungeons & Dragons Games of All-Time . In: IGN . February 5, 2014. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  25. The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames . In: paste . Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  26. Top 100 PC RPGs of All Time: Dungeons and Dragons. In: Gamestar. July 22, 2019, accessed July 22, 2019 .
  27. ^ Gamespot's History of AD&D: Eye of the Beholder . In: Gamespot . Golden Empire Publications. March 1993. Archived from the original on November 16, 2004.