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Released: 1985

Genre: RPG

Format reviewed: PC - DOS

Developer: Robert Alan Koeneke / Jimmey Wayne Todd

Submitted by: Andy Bolsover

Moria is a ‘rogue’ like computer game according to its Wikipedia entry, which could mean it’s edgy and cool, like Han Solo, but probably doesn’t, given that it’s a dungeon crawler where your character is represented by an @ symbol. What I can vouch for is that it is undeniably influential, being the basic template for the game Diablo, and by extension every clone and rip off that game spawned. It’s also bizarrely addictive, and ate away much of my free time when I should have been either studying or playing something that didn’t look like it had taken about five minutes to program.

In a story that will win no prizes for originality (but perhaps should win several prizes for avoiding any kind of litigation) you play the part of an adventurer about to set off into the mines of Moria, where you’ll fight your way through descending levels of randomly generated mazes, monsters and treasures until you come face to face with the Balrog who resides on the lowest level. You can choose between eight different character classes and eight different races, the large number of combinations including human mages and warrior half trolls, the latter suggesting some sort of inter species dating barrel scraping. Then after haggling with shopkeepers for items and equipment you set off into the mines to meet your inevitable doom/triumph.

Despite the graphics being entirely text based (i.e. every character/wall/treasure chest is represented by a letter) the game does a pretty good job of creating a creepy and foreboding atmosphere, as the dungeons only reveal themselves in increments. You can creep down a dark corridor, getting a genuine jolt of surprise as you bump into a Giant Mamba that’s probably going to absolutely destroy you. Which is not bad considering you’ve just moved your @ symbol down a row of X’s until it’s next to a capital S. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination though. Worth a look, especially if you work in data processing and you need a game that looks like a spreadsheet in case your boss surprises you.