Firstly, it must be said that this is an older game and as such has somewhat limited graphics and sound but even with these "limitations" this is one of the best games I've ever played. While, on the surface, this may seem like a simple dungeon crawl just like the hundreds of others you've seen it is so much more.
You start by generating your party by answering questions which shape the personality of your character. The party is comprised of four characters: a Paladin, a Fighter, a Magician, and a Priest.
Once you've created your party you're ready to set out into the dusty, abandoned dungeon. The main game screen is divided into five sections: the topmost shows your characters status with their name and hit points/ physical condition, the center shows a first-person view of the dungeon, the left shows your party's food supply, the bottom portion shows messages, and the right shows available options such as cast, read, etc.
As this is an older DOS games, all controls are keyboard based and the arrow keys are used for movement. The dungeon is show in a real-time 3D view along the lines of Wolfenstein 3D during your travels and when combat is initiated it switches to a top-down view of the room. While exploring there are inscriptions on
the walls to read and, in some cases, cast spells on to translate, which give information, directions, or warnings.
During your travels there are places called Sanctuaries which are safe havens. Each Sanctuary, when first encountered, must be opened by entering a code which is found on one of the "Soul Amulets" included with the game – four non-reproducible brown paper sheets with code wheels on them. Each Sanctuary must be opened only once using the code and is thereafter available. Each Sanctuary is named and, once you have visited it, can be teleported to from any other sanctuary. Within each Sanctuary you can rest to recuperate, check skill levels, store items, examine your party, cast spells, invoke prayers, and use items. Some prayers can only be invoked in sanctuaries. There is a section of the game which has a marketplace which provides some very important services. In the marketplace you can Heal/Resurrect characters, recruit new characters to replace deceased ones, and purchase and/or repair equipment. There are also a few places in the dungeon for teleporting and for identifying items, once you find them.
When characters die you head to the marketplace but when everyone dies you lay on the ground until a kindly stranger drags our party to the temple where you can then resurrect and heal or dump the corpses and head to the guild to get some new members. The new members are comparable to the ones they replace and, if you're lucky, sometimes better. Remember to retrieve dead characters items before replacing them!
The combat is fairly basic – it's turn-based and involves you moving then acting, then the monsters moving and acting, and so on until one of you is dead. The Paladin and Fighter are good front-line brawlers while the Magician and Priest are best kept in the back to cast and invoke in support. The characters each have their own unique capabilities. The Fighter is a strong, hearty warrior who can take and absorb a fair amount of damage in combat. The Paladin is a pretty good fighter who also has the ability to lay on hands which heals friends and harms enemies. The Magician and the Priest both have abilities which stem from Rings of varying metals. The more expensive the ring, the more powerful the spells: copper, silver, gold, platinum, and crystal.
The Magician uses spells which must be cast by typing the spell name and can affect individuals or large areas depending on the spell. The Priest relies on prayers granted by the gods which can be surly at times; try to invoke a spell above your level and you'll be struck down for a fair amount of damage and sometimes the prayers can go completely ignored!
The real strength of this game is its puzzles; some of the most clever, and fiendish, puzzles will test your wits and patience at every turn.
The Dark Heart of Uukrul is a simple, basic looking, game packed with atmosphere, adventure, challenges, and hours upon hours of game play which will keep you entertained every minute of the way. I cannot recommend this game enough, 10 out of 10!