It was the mid-80s when Ultima IV hit my home computer. I had just started writing computer software to make a little money and purchased this game in part because I thought Ultima III looked and sounded (it had a great audio track) cool. And I played Ultima IV for months jotting little notes on wrinkled up scraps of paper to help me remember my quests, where nightshade (a spell ingredient, if I recall) was, and so forth. It was a game like no other with both a clear, linear goal and optional, open ended game play where I could wander the country side in search of fowl monsters to slay and precious gold if that was what I wanted to do. And that's the key to open ended game play. What do I want to do.
Fast forward to 2011 and sure, we've got some very impressive fantasy games that are technically superior in every way. Betheda's Oblivion and upcoming Sky Rim come to the front of my mind, but there's still something desirable about the simplicity of these older titles and that's what Gurk capitalizes on. Gurk is simple and it's meant to be simple. You control a party of three characters... a fighter, an archer (ranger), and a wizard. You cruise around slaying monsters, hoarding treasure, and growing stronger along the way. But I'm here to tell you that Gurk is a waste of time.
Because Gurk II is already available and it adds oh so much to the game including a $.99 price tag. Pay the $.99. Gurk is a nice, little demo, but Gurk II is where it's at with a pretty sound track, and quests... we have to have quests... Not sure you'll like this style of game? Go ahead and download Gurk to see. The core mechanics are pretty much identical as are the controls and it'll provide a nice little technical demo of what you'll get with Gurk II, but don't waste hours on it... get Gurk II.
In Gurk II you'll create a party by accepting or rejecting different fighter, ranger, and wizard type characters that are randomly generated for you. Once complete you start off in a small town. The typical ingredients for a town in this game are a store, a healer, and some people to visit. People may give you information or offer you quests to perform.
Gurk II touts itself as an 8-bit game and it maintains that look for better or for worse. I like retrogames, but I'm not going to try to convince you that all else being equal I'd rather have poorer graphics. Gurk II relies entirely on a simple touch screen based control pad for moving around, accessing your party, and doing everything else. Depending on where you're at the options on these buttons will change. Move onto a town space and entering the town will become a choice. Consequently moving around and game play in general is very fast and smooth. You can travel from one side of a continent to the other in seconds unless you are attacked by random monsters. Personally, I've never been a big fan of random monsters and this game has those in spades. You'll be walking through a forest or wandering a dungeon and 'blitz' with no option to retreat. That certainly makes the game more challenging as you have to ensure that you've always got enough left for another battle and that you don't stray too far from home.
Gurk II is a great, pocket adventure game and I don't want to dig into any quests or anything. I'll save those as an exercise for the reader. One nice thing, however, is that you can save at any time so it's easy to pull out and play for a few minutes if that's all you've got. Unless you just can't bear the idea of old school graphics or just don't like adventure games in general then for $.99 you'll want this. It's fast and it's fun. 4.5/5 stars.