I Played That! #33: Eye of the Beholder Series (PC)

Were a lot of other people doing this series, there would be an entry for the various “gold box” Dungeons and Dragons games. For some reason, even though I played a lot of junk, I never played those. I didn’t like the look of them, for one thing. However, when I saw Eye of the Beholder, I grabbed it.

Eye of the Beholder’s 3D-ish graphics wowed me where the gold box games’ Spartan playing fields did not. I played through the first game and really enjoyed it, so I was completely stoked for the second one.

Eye of the Beholder 2 did not disappoint. It was much larger than the previous one and much more intricate. It was filled with tough fights, cool enemies, traps, and different environments. I played it over and over and it’s right up there on my list of all-time favorites.

Naturally, I was completely on board for Eye of the Beholder 3, but unfortunately Westwood Studios, who developed the first two, were not. The third game was kind of a mess, slow and clunky. None of the games had a fantastic plot, but in the third one I failed to follow it so well that I got to the final bad guy without even realizing it. I stumbled into a room, fought someone, and got killed. No problem. I reloaded, went back, fought again, and won. Roll end credits. I had no idea I was even close to the end of the game, and hadn’t picked up any indications that this was the person behind whatever had been happening all along.

The team behind the first two games went on to make Lands of Lore, a game that was very much in the same vein, though not set in the D&D universe. I got it and remember liking it, though I don’t think I ever played its sequels.

SSI also later released Dungeon Hack. The idea behind this game was that it could create random (sorry, procedural dungeons of the “Eye of the Beholder” type for you to run around in. You could customize the features and then go exploring. The “Hack” in its name was a reference to the well-known variant of Rogue. This was, in a sense, that type of game, but with an Eye of the Beholder flair, and it was fun to play with.

The Eye of the Beholder series still has its legacy out there. A recent indie game darling is The Legend of Grimrock, which is very much influenced by Eye of the Beholder.

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