This classic from 1984 brings me back to the very beginning of computer games. IGN listed this as one of their top ten classic EA games that deserve an update, and I agree. But that doesn’t mean it would be easy to do. This game takes advantage of the visual programming limitations that existed then to create Escher-like landscapes. You move your character through these, and it is not always obvious where you need to go. Oh, and you have to figure that out while being chased by beasties that are trying to kill you.
Think Escher with zombies.
The plot is straightforward. Wistrik, an evil cleric, has captured the seven crowns of the middle kingdoms. To reach them, or their keys, you have to run through 13 dungeons with names like “The Abyss”, “The Pits of Gehenna” and “Tartarus”. As you might guess, these are not pleasant places.
At its heart, Realms of Impossibility is closest to being an adventure game. You have hit points, and there are scrolls to be found that give you spells or more hit points. However, you cannot kill any of the snakes, insects, balls and zombies that chase you. There will be a limited number of spells you can use. Either freeze (stops them), confusion (stops them from chasing you), or protection (stops them
from harming you). Alternatively, you have an unlimited number of crosses that can be laid down to block their paths. Beware, it will block yours if you happen to double back. This creates interesting strategic challenges as you move from screen to screen. When you run to the exit of one room, it moves you to the next. Sometimes the monsters are around a corner, giving you a moment to think about how to maneuver through them. Sometimes they are not...
One of the real innovations was the two person play. This really adds to the fun as you will need to team up to work through the game at higher difficulties. But single player is doable at lower difficulty settings.
I first played this on an Atari system. But the C64 version looks and sounds much the same. The sound and graphics were great for 1984 (and the little song when you complete a level still stuck with me all these years), but obviously will be somewhat less so now. But don’t let that deter you. The thing that fascinates me about these old games is the replayability. There are a lot of innovative ideas in the old games that you don’t find in newer games with all their focus on sound and video. Give it a go!