Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon was once again developed by Westwood Studios (aka Westwood Associates) and first published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in 1992. It is the sequel to the classic Eye of the Beholder, which came out the previous year.
The game comes on four floppy disks and there’s much more disk-swapping in this than the previous game, and it can get annoying, so it’s probably best to play a hard disk version if you can find one. Or play the PC version, which doesn’t have disk-swapping.
A short animated intro sets the scene: you must investigate The Temple of Darkmoon and look for a scout who has gone missing, because something is not right about that place. You then create your party of four characters and are teleported into the woods near the temple. The woods are infested with wolves and you’ll undoubtedly see one within the first few seconds of exploring. You must deal with the wolves and then orient yourself to find the temple entrance. Once inside, you’re embroiled in a conspiracy of evil, which is being hidden by the temple priests. And of course you have to defeat whatever evil is behind it.
Eye of the Beholder II features the same real-time RPG gameplay as the first game. The screen layout is pretty much identical to EoB1, with mouse and keyboard controls used to move, fight and manipulate equipment and inventory items. Doors, keys, puzzles and traps are the core of the adventure, and as you venture further into the mystery the opponents who fight against you become ever tougher.
Resting to memorise and pray for spells is once again a key component of the magic system, and – depending on your starting characters – you can cast a wider variety of useful spells, including offensive and defensive magic, as well as spells such as “Create Food” (very useful for feeding your entire party when food stocks are low), “Improved Identify” (for identifying magic items), and “Remove Curse” (for removing cursed items that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to un-equip). In general, the enhanced magic system in Eye of the Beholder II makes for a much more interesting game.
Combat is once again real-time, and in this sequel the monsters (and human opponents) are tougher, more plentiful, and will give you more of a challenge to beat than the first game. At one point, quite early in the game, you encounter an army of evil clerics and skeletons, which will push you to your limits, and this is revealed as part of the story, because you learn that the evil behind this plot is actually building an army to try to take over the world.
The traps and puzzles in this game are also more devious than those seen in the first Eye of the Beholder. There’s even a level that – once you’ve entered it – you cannot escape, or rest, until you’ve pretty much beaten it, and this “nightmare” level will test your survival skills to the max. Needless you say, Eye of the Beholder II is not really designed for beginners and is a step-up in difficulty from the first game. It is rather brilliant, though, and is well worth playing now. Using a walkthrough will help you make it through the game without screwing up, because there are a number of places where it is entirely possible to become trapped and not be able to progress any further – if you make the wrong decision.
Saving is different to the first Eye of the Beholder. In this you must have a separate save disk and format it from within the game. You can save to one of six different save slots, rather than just the one of the previous game, which is extremely useful as it can prevent you from accidentally saving yourself into a corner.
Characters comment more often and sometimes give useful hints about the environment (like noticing drafty areas that point to hidden switches), and the game overall has a wide variety of enhancements and additions over the first game that make it a joy to play.
I really enjoyed returning to this game and trying to get further than I’ve ever gotten before. It’s a classic Amiga RPG – arguably one of the best on the platform – and it will appeal to anyone who likes this kind of tile-based exploration game. Only the most dedicated will complete it, though, but it really is worth the time and effort to beat.
Eye of the Beholder III was unfortunately never ported to the Amiga, so this is the final game in the Eye of the Beholder series released for the platform.