DOS - 1992
Description of Dungeon Master
Without a doubt one of the best RPGs ever made for any computer, FTL's Dungeon Master is an epic RPG masterpiece that revolutionizes and rejuvenates the genre in much the same way as Baldur's Gate did over a decade later.
More than anything, the game epitomizes the "gameplay over graphics" tenet that is fading fast in today's preoccupation with 3D accelerated games. At the time when the game was released (whether Amiga, Commodore, ST, or PC), there were many better looking RPGs on the market. Few, however, could match the game in sheer addictiveness.
The premise, which isn't one of the game's strong points, is very tenuous and simple: you control a party of up to four adventurers of various races who must find their way through a 12-level dungeon and defeat its owner (an evil wizard, of course). There are naturally all sorts of encounters along the way that will enable you to improve your character's strengths and skills, and pocket a few nifty magical items. It's a dungeon crawl, nothing more, nothing less, played from a first person perspective. So what's new?
What Dungeon Master lacks in terms of storyline and writing, it more than makes up for with sheer playability, ingenious puzzles, and incredible atmosphere. The puzzles go above and beyond simple "find key to unlock door" puzzles of a typical RPG-- they include fiendish riddles, physical puzzles, and inventory-based puzzles that fans of adventure games will appreciate. No matter how difficult they are, though, they are very logical and addictive. I fondly recall the number of nights I've laid awake in bed, thinking about how to past that blasted mysterious door.. on nights that I wasn't hooked with the game far into the wee hours of the morning, that is.
The game's immersive atmosphere is achieved by a combination of real-time play (allowing the monsters to attack you by surprise, for example), great sound effects, and depth of role-playing features. Many races in the game had hitherto been unavailable in any RPG, and high-level spells are very imaginative (these are not your run-of-the-mill Lightning Bolts). The game's anal-retentive attention to detail, such as the fact that you must always pay attention to your party members' thirst and hunger levels and feed them when necessary, may be a nuisance to beginners or casual RPGers, but for anal-retentive gamers, it's a dream come true.
Overall, Dungeon Master is one of the most addictive RPGs you'll ever play. Although the game's depth and scope may scare beginners away, its adventure-game style puzzles that take precedence over pointless combats should entice them to try it out. For an in-depth dungeon crawl, there's no better game in town. Don't consider yourself an RPG fan if you've never played this classic. Too bad FTL never ported the sequel Chaos Strikes Back to the PC.
Review By HOTUD
Dungeon Master has an addon available: Dungeon Master: Chaos Strikes Back - Expansion Set #1, don't miss it!
Comments and reviews
BertieLeSpud 2022-12-28 0 point
"When is a wall not a wall"... haunts me to this day as I was stuck on that particular one for weeks. Loved the game and it brought back memories of my time and evening in the RAF
Sluggotg 2022-12-13 1 point
One of my all time favorites! I loved the Amiga version. It had a really fun spell system. I still of course remember ZOKATHRA.
Seannachie 2022-10-20 3 points
Such a tragedy that this was never ported to the C64/128. Someone tried unofficially but it never got past the demo stage. There was a port to the Nintendo DS but I could never get it to work.
Stuck in the 80's! 2022-04-18 3 points Atari ST version
Dungeon Master - the ultimate 80's dad'n'son bonding game. We didn't always see eye to eye, but that FTL whoosh, Stamm Bladecaster, and a strategic stockpile of screamer slices will always be fond memories!
Kevo 2022-04-16 12 points
Dad and I played this and he made detailed hand drawn maps with every trap, and item location. RIP Dad.
Pickwick 2022-03-11 2 points Atari ST version
A historic game and probably my favourite of all time. I had problems completing this with the four character party due to (the best I can recall) food and water shortages and perhaps low attributes in the later levels.
I eventually played with one reincarnated character (the elf with the green clothes and bow).
Stephen Gallagher 2021-05-04 1 point
I had this game on a previous kindle and would like to have it on my new kindle10. Regards Stephen
todotiggant 2021-02-12 2 points Amiga version
what younger un's need to imagine is that this had NEVER been done before
pseudo 3D, subjective view, mouse interaction with objects in the world
this was as groundbreaking and impressive as Elite (3D space game) altho elite had the added perk of real physics (which later games shied from ever since, but it was awesome)
DM was upon the biggest punch shelf of these years along with Elite and others
Kerry 2020-12-20 9 points Atari ST version
My son and I bonded playing this on our Atari ST. I was the brawn and he was the brains and we learned our roles and abilities in real time. We loved the hours we spent fighting our way down to the lowest level. Miss those times.
pokemonprincess 2020-05-18 3 points
I want to try this video games ive seen someone play it and it looks so cool
NoOneSpezl 2019-11-04 7 points
"Dungeon Master" was the first truly interactive computer adventure game offering a real time 3-D experience.
Players began as a disembodied spirit drifting through stone corridors for some unknown purpose. Eventually they stumbled across portraits hung on the dungeon walls, portraits of heroes and creatures from previous failed expeditions. Over a dozen from warrior to wizard, elvish type to monstrosity, but only four of these could be restored to life as your avatars.
Each character's unique strengths were an asset, their magical abilities, weapons they carried, but you quickly realized your revived champions were puny compared to the challenges ahead.
Given time and practice their abilities did indeed grow. New spells could be learned through experimentation, new fighting techniques developed through use of weapons. Strengthened characters carried more supplies and useful objects.
Granted all such game features are common today, yet they were unprecedented and shockingly realistic in this hallmark game of games. Dungeon Master was the beginning of it all folks. It set the gold standard and shaped computer games into what they've now become.
Dungeon Master was humanity's first real opportunity to move off paper into the wholly electronic realm. It offered the feel of the RPG game "Dungeon & Dragons" of Gary Gygax fame (originally "Chainmail"). I loved that one as well, being one of its earliest players and having authored the original D&D witchcraft rules. But DM brought with it all the excitement and suspense while leaving behind the burdens of rolling dice, checking rules, shuffling paper.
Players of DM quickly bonded with their characters. A cunning leader used teamwork against deadly traps and creepy crawlies infesting the place. The thrill of finding a wand or weapon, food or water, a secret path, all reinforced the adventuring spirit. Each discovery granted new hope, meant you could go on a bit longer, open one more door.
Even in quieter moments you focused on survival and success. Character care was always on your mind. If you didn't find a safe place to rest, didn't eat, ran low on water, you became tired and collapsed. And exhausted characters were easy prey for things that travelled these stony paths.
Consequences were evident all around you. There were remains of previous excursions rusting and rotting, piles of bones you plundered for weapons, fragments of food, anything of use! As your skills and confidence grew you became bolder, but it was foolish to became overconfident as the game raised the stakes the deeper you explored. Puzzles become trickier and opponents more vicious.
As your awareness grew you also began to recognize hidden switches between the stones, shortcuts sandwiched between walls. Halfway through the quest one stumbled upon a sanctuary with water and iron gate, a virtual lifeboat in a sea of troubles. It was conveniently nestled near the giant rat abode as a food source and had access to the hidden grand stairwell.
In practising spells and combat, collecting supplies and artefacts, you eventually gained a sense of the builder who laid these traps and filled the maze with its inhabitants. Every new Dungeon Master player came to admire the cleverness of it all yet agonized over how deep their journey would take them ... and to what end?
Literally dozens of panicky moments kept adrenaline flowing. Sounds of clanking chains, shrieks of monsters who seized upon you, pits opening beneath your feet ... I became so paranoid that I actually saved the game every time I was ready to open a new door. You never knew what was on the other side.
The final moment of truth unexpectedly swept you into the bowels of the dungeon.
It was then you discovered the return path blocked, your precious stockpiles of potions, weapons, food and water beyond reach. It was the sickening moment you realized all those ash piles were remains of those who came before, those who crossed paths with the fire breathing dragon just around the corner.
Through sheer bravado and jaw clenching stamina the dragon could be defeated, but in a careless moment a single dragon breath could convert you to carbon. Players could be restored by the nearby life receptacle, but access to that special chamber was limited.
"Dungeon Master" took a typical player many attempts to complete. A solid week of evenings after school or work, a couple weekends, all making this journey a memory savored for decades. And it was only made possible by exquisitely balancing the Tramiel Operating System (TOS) and Atari ST 520 platform (with 512 KB RAM).
Drawing on my 45 years of arcade and computer games, I've no doubt if Atari promoted itself as a gaming platform on the strength "Dungeon Master " and "Sundog" alone -- rather than insisting the Atari was intended as an office tool -- there would have been no other competing computer sold in America.
The nearest competitor in popularity at the time was the dreadful piece of crap known as the Commodore 64, mostly an arcade game simulator. The Commodore was cheaper which gave it traction in the market, but you get what you pay for. Had Atari aimed at gamers instead of computer ignorant business managers, the human race wouldn't be shackled to the electronic hell spawned by our Microsoft overlords. TOS proved it could punish and beat DOS claws down every time
If you would like to try your hand in the pits and perils of "Dungeon Master" I suggest the generously web emulator.
Frequently hit the game save button, cross your fingers and toes, and enter the gates.
Belesarius 2019-07-31 1 point
I remember this game from days past when I owned an Amiga I am hoping to play it again.
Zephalis 2018-04-02 3 points DOS version
This is the only RPG I've ever seen that allowed me to take a class and turn it into another with patience. Essentially, I noticed that there was a little bit of MP available to a warrior and so I sat there for a long time in the beginning of the game attempting to cast a simple spell and it randomly worked, leveled me up, and let me rocket off from there making a dual class character. I've always remembered it for this exact reason.
Davin626 2018-03-10 3 points
My favorite game ever. A pioneer in 3D real-time gameplay, though hopelessly quaint by now! A well thought-out dungeon, interesting class and level-up system, and easy to change the difficulty by choosing less than 4 characters. This was made back when developers couldn't hide mediocre gameplay behind schnazzy graphics or size of the world or number of players- games had to be GOOD, and this one was above and beyond.
RRW 2017-09-09 0 point Atari ST version
One of the best Atari ST games I ever owned. Not until I bought Baldur's Gate on PC did I enjoy a D&D type game as much.
Bad-People 2017-07-06 -5 points DOS version
I want to try it in the browser first. What's the launch command? I thought it was DM.exe but that doesn't do anything.
retrogamer 2016-08-23 1 point
Used to play this game on the Amiga. Great game. There is an indie sci-fi dungeon adventure game called Dungeon Guild that is similiar in style to DM. Worth checking out and free to play. www.Dungeontreasure.com
KungFU2009RIP 2016-01-29 -15 points
I don't like THESE type of dungeon crawlers, I much prefer the ones that use
some type of REALTIME RAYCASTING game engine that draws your gaming environment on the fly(similar to the doom games) so I prefer ultima underworld
and the like...but to each his own, many people love this game, what can I say?
I didn't like it years ago and I don't like it now, but that isn't a criticism of the actual
game itself but rather the gameplay mechanics and such, so because I can't get past the game engine limits itself I guess I will never discover what made this game such a hit with soooo many gamers.
ExarKun 2015-11-11 3 points
I played Dungeon Master on the Atari ST way back in 1987! Was immediately hooked and when I got my first PC, I waited for it to arrived on the DOS/Windows platform. This is definitely my MOST played video game ever, by far over any other game. I still, to this day, will do a session of DM using DosBox, and have as much fun now as I did before! One of the best games ever made, on any platform, and sadly, nothing today is as good in sheer entertainment!
moonbug 2015-03-28 2 points DOS version
The downside with CSBWin is that it's pure 32-bit code, so eventually you'll have to emulate it, just as you do with the DOS version. The CSB author mentioned he has no interest to update the code, because it was a very tedious Motorolla 68000 assembly to 32-bit ANSI C conversion, opcode by opcode, a process that took him about 6 months. It's a very faithful port, if you happen to have a 32-bit machine, but otherwise it's easier to just emulate the DOS game, or better yet the nicer Amiga version (check the dmweb site for version differences to get the whole story...)
dmlover 2014-12-29 -1 point DOS version
well abandonware is nice but this game is much better played through Chaos Strikes Back for Windows (and Linux, MacOS X, Pocket PC) available at: http://dmweb.free.fr/?q=node/851
This clone makes it possible to play the original games faithfully, both dungeon master and chaos strike back natively on a PC.
Calenzo 2014-10-11 1 point DOS version
you can use the number-pad on PC to move, or arrow keys. pretty much necessary to enjoy the game. That said, this is one of my favorite games to play through and I consider it one of the best games of all times that I have ever played.
DOSBOX 2014-06-14 -3 points DOS version
all i saw was an empty dungeon with a few paintings on the wall, and the click-to-move motion is annoying
Lord Ryu 2014-01-02 0 point DOS version
IS this the one where you can play as a Giant or a Shrimp? I've been trying to find that one for YEARS, and I can't find it anywhere.
contact me: Faceboom.com/michaelgalenmcdonald
david1806 2013-12-19 1 point DOS version
Such a fantastic game - I played this to death. It was the first (and probably only) game that actually made me "jump" in fright! I think it was turning a corner and being a confronted by a mummy......pure class!! :o)
Redeye 2013-10-01 0 point DOS version
Loved this game on the Atari ST also. I am so thrilled to find it available on your website and playable through Boxer on my iMac. It's been almost 24 years since I last played this game.
Kevin 2012-12-08 1 point DOS version
Played this to death on the Atari ST. Still one of my most favorite and memorable games. Grimrock is basically an updated version of Dungeon master, however I'm finding there are many areas where DM still remains king, sadly.
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