For October, I have decided to return to the Internet Archive and further explore their collection of old MS-DOS games. I started things off by playing Richard and Alan’s Escape From Hell (1990, Electronic Arts).
Though the Archive only includes the game (no manual, no instructions of any kind), I was able to find Escape From Hell‘s front and back cover art at the Let’s Play Archive. Almost everything that needs to be known about this game’s tone and sensibility can be deduced simply by looking at these illustrations:
As for the game itself, it is a role-playing game. You are Richard. Largely as a result of your own stupidity, you and your best friend and your girlfriend have all accidentally be sent to Hell.
Because this is a MS-DOS game from 1990, Hell looks like this:
In the screen shot above, you are standing above a river of flame and there is a skeleton blocking your way. One thing that I quickly learned is that you should not try to talk to the skeletons. If you do, this will probably happen:
That did not work out. One of the problems with trying to play Escape From Hell on the Internet Archive is that, especially early on in the game, it is very easy to die and, without the original disk, it is impossible to save your game. Death means that you literally have to start over again, from the very beginning.
It is worth restarting, though. Once you figure out how to avoid running into skeletons, you do get a chance to talk to some of the other inhabitants of Hell. Like this one:
You also come across clues and other messages:
Eventually, I even found the entrance to Hell’s waiting room.
Unfortunately, once I got in the waiting room, I went down the wrong hallway and this happened:
Escape from Hell is not an easy game but it is worth sticking with. If you can manage to go long enough without dying, you will eventually meet some condemned people who are willing to help you out. Most of them are real-life tyrants, like Joseph Stalin and Genghis Khan. It turns out that Stalin is a really good shot with a nail gun. Who would have guessed?
I am still playing my way through Escape From Hell but, from what I have seen, I recommend it for anyone who wants to take a retro trip through the underworld, MS-DOS style.