DeathKeep, a new Windows 95 port of an old 3DO title, is a first person perspective 3-D fantasy adventure set in an ancient dwarven keep. As a typical wandering hero type, it's your job to find three magical orb keys so you can pass through a legendary portal and fulfill your destiny by destroying the evil Necromancer (is it me or does this sound vaguely familiar?). During your journey, feel free to hack and slash every beastie that crosses your path or simply burn them to a crisp with fireballs and lightning bolts.
Like its storyline, DeathKeep's playability leaves much to be desired. Simply going to the inventory screen and equipping your character with weaponry will be a trial for first-time players. Even RPG veterans may find it takes some time to master the fine art of placing an item in a useable slot. And not only is the character interface poor, but game movement and animation are disastrously choppy, even on a Pentium 90.
The graphics in DeathKeep are both dull and antiquated. Walls are jagged, lanterns seem to float in midair, and creatures become pixelated in close combat. All of this is made worse by the fact that you can't even see the weapon you're carrying, even when you're frantically chopping a foe into paste.
Interface and graphics aside, the biggest problem with DeathKeep is its lack of character generation. You must play one of three characters: a fighter, a mage, or a fighter-mage. By eliminating the option of creating an alter-ego, SSI has removed one of the most satisfying qualities of a role-playing game. It's hard to feel much empathy for a canned character.
In spite of all its problems, DeathKeep does have a few nice features. The overhead map uses different colors to show the varying altitudes of the dungeon, and the soundtrack is remarkably well crafted. The music even changes when your adventurer is in an area safe enough to rest.
In the final analysis, DeathKeep is a mediocre game with nothing new to offer in the first-person adventure genre. Gamers new to fantasy adventuring will be disappointed by the graphics and playability, and hard-core role-players will be quickly frustrated by the game's inherent limitations.