Gaming greats – Eye of the Beholder (1990)

Often lost behind talk of Dungeon Master, nevertheless Eye of the Beholder is a classic in its own right.It didn't just take that pioneer's format of

Often lost behind talk of Dungeon Master, nevertheless Eye of the Beholder is a classic in its own right.It didn't just take that pioneer's format of semi-real-time, first-person adventure and add bells and whistles; it created an atmosphere of suspense and terror around the dungeon-crawling experience. Okay, so it was partly just improved graphics and uglier foes, but it was pant-wetting at the time.But before you'd even ventured forth into the sewers beneath the city, in search of the evil beholder - a flying blob with tons of eyes on stalks - you had to create your party of adventurers.This being rooted in the Dungeons & Dragons series, the roll of virtual dice decided how good your characters were - although you could keep rolling indefinitely until you got some stats you liked. Choosing a good balance of professions was essential to survival. Selecting what your heroes looked like from a large set of character pictures was less essential but just as fun.After that, clicking your way through the catacombs and equipping your group along the way became an all-consuming process. The monsters were truly disturbing, with their sudden appearance creating a claustrophobic feeling that death could be around any corner. As each member of your group died, his or her head turned into a bare skull staring at you disconcertingly from the side of the screen.The puzzle elements of the game could be really devious, too, and the step-by-step movement could get you easily lost. I remember helping my brother, pencil and paper in hand, to map the particularly mind-bending later levels.Eye of the Beholder II: Legend of Darkmoon was released a year later and improved on the original with some fun outdoor sections and more people to talk to and invite to join your party. The genius was that you could transfer your saved characters over from the original to the sequel.

A pair of true classics.