Natuk is a traditional CRPG designed and created by Tom Proudfoot in 1998. It features turn-based combat, an overhead view, and a straightforward plot. Natuk is a game of revenge. You control a group of up to 8 heroes on their quest to kill the Emperor. What makes Natuk’s plot different than most is that the heroes of the game are orcs, ogres and half-trolls as opposed to the traditional knights in shining armor.

The Setting

Natuk is the name of your country. A nation of violence, where the strong rule and the weak serve... or die. Natuk is ruled by Emperor Molvosh, the most cunning and ruthless emperor the nation has ever known. Unfortunately for you, you tried to kill him. Even more unfortunately, you didn't succeed.

Emperor Molvosh meted out his usual justice. Your mates and whelps were slain, the leader of the plot was flayed alive, and the eight accomplices of this pitiful assassination attempt (you) were thrown into the prisons of Jagg, never to be seen again.

But somewhere, somehow, papers were misplaced or orders misread, and you now find yourselves out on the frontier of Natuk, assigned as warriors to the most loathsome, moronic outpost chief imaginable.

But he is strong, and you are weak, and you have learned your lesson. Or have you?

Natuk’s plot is open ended. Your overall goal is to get revenge on Emperor Molvosh, but how you get to him is your choice. Not only is the game full of side quests including a large wilderness area to explore, but there are also multiple ways to attack Molvosh himself. Do you want to attack him during a parade surrounded by his leagues of minions? Do you want to go knock on his front gate and challenge him and his guards? Or do you want to pry open a manhole cover and sneak into his palace crawling through the sewer like rats?

Where this game truly shines is in its attention to detail. It has one of the most comprehensive combat systems ever created for a shareware game, featuring the ability to aim blows to specific areas of the body, disarm your opponent, and throw weapons. There are over 160 different spells, found in spell books throughout the game, ranging from easy to difficult. A nice thing about Proudfoot’s spell casting system is that the player can figure out other spells based on the spell syllables he or she already knows. Natuk also has an extensive item creation system that can literally create thousands and thousands of different items both magical and mundane. Many items are randomly generated, making the game different each time you play it.

Natuk features thirty-three dungeon areas and over 150 different monsters, including NPCs you meet along the way. Each victory over an opponent gives the player experience points to spend on improving some aspect of his or character. Whether improving their attributes or one of the 38 weapon/magic/other skills, players have complete control over every aspect of their party. You can also change the difficulty setting whenever you want, making impossible battles easier, and easy battles more difficult. The more difficult the game setting is, the more experience you receive. Natuk runs on any Pentium with Windows 95 or 98 but may have trouble on newer and faster systems.

The one drawback to Natuk is the graphics system. Because it was an independently produced game the artwork and graphics are not as polished as a commercial game. Once you have become entrenched in the story this is no longer a big deal and you might actually become attached to your simple character icons.

The Credits

Tom Proudfoot, game design and programming.

Dave Gerry, art and music.

Ian Bell, continuous testing and design assistance.

Dorothy Proudfoot, design assistance and final testing.

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