Developer: Storm Impact Games
Format: Mac
Shareware: $19

Taskmaker (sometimes capitalized TaskMaker) is an intriguing game for the Macintosh, circa 1995. It's a simple but detailed adventure game. Your character is the assistant for the Taskmaker, who rules the kingdom which you inhabit. He will assign you a series of tasks, which you must complete to rise through the system of government which he has devised. As you play through the game, it becomes more and more apparent that the Taskmaker is an evil man who must be stopped; seize your destiny!

Taskmaker has a tile-based interface, with NPCs galore roaming the land. You start in Castle Hall, the central town of the kingdom, from where the Taskmaker reigns. You can wander around, interact with everyone around you, and meet the design team. Your character progresses through levels and statistics in a fairly straightforward manner, and can carry an inexplicably huge inventory.

Inventory, by the way, is where the game excels. You can buy all manner of useless things (Macintosh SE, video game tokens) and carry them around. You can pick up garbage and recycle it for the refund. You can acquire massive amounts of gold and gems, then stash them in your ATM account. You can get drunk off your ass.

In many ways, the game resembles NetHack, but more finite. The world is completely fixed, and you can only follow one track to beat the game. You have the option of becoming evil, but guards will attack you in every city and you will be unable to win the game.

The level of detail, however, is fantastic. Dozens of cities litter the map, and each one is full of secret passages and catacombs, weird monsters and treasure.

Some entertaining high points: After beating the game, you can edit the map and wreak havoc with the land. I, myself, turned Paradise Garden into a burning hellfire shrine to myself. While it took hours, it was rather fulfilling. Yowza.

Returning to the Taskmaker without completing a mission causes him to scream entertaining curses at you while repeating exactly what he wants.

On the second quest, the Taskmaker demands that you pick him up a chessboard. Not just any chessboard, either -- the chessboard from one of his secret lairs. Needless to say, a checkerboard is in his secret lair, on top of a huge, shiny platform. If you bring it back (a forty minute endeavor), he will hurl it in your face. "I wanted chess, not checkers!" Brilliant.

Anyway; this game is available online and will run on any Macintosh later than the SE (the Macintosh II and right on down to the G4 Cube). I'd recommend it, although you have to register to play past the first two quests. (Note from OckerJoe: Storm Impact is now defunct, so registration is basically a moot point. Codes are available online.) There is also a sequel, Tomb of Taskmaker.

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