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Trial by Magic is an above-average isometric dungeon RPG that is strongly reminiscent of Event Horizon's classic The Summoning, except with much more emphasis on difficult combat. Your objective is simply to descend down a dungeon as deep as possible to defeat the powerful Trialmaster. The game boasts over 20 huge levels, plenty of monsters to kill, neat treasures to loot, secret doors to find, and all the action you'd expect from an old-school dungeon romp.
The similarities between Trial by Magic and The Summoning extends beyond the isometric appearance. As in The Summoning, you need to collect and combine runes to cast spells, watch out for traps, battle monsters in real-time, and deal with realistic elements such as limited arrows for your bow, although you don't need to worry about item weights in this game. The rune-based spellcasting system is effective, although not as easy to use as The Summoning, and runes are much harder to come by. The game's emphasis on combat and exploration over plot means that you will face many tough monsters and insidious traps on every level. Fortunately, you can jump over traps, and use them judiciously to kill monsters (e.g. by triggering them at the right time when monsters are charging towards you). Although runes are not easy to find, your spell points automatically regenerate quite fast, enabling you to cast spells more frequently - which is especially helpful since you gain experience points every time you do so.
I find Trial by Magic to be a challenging dungeon romp, although unfortunately not as engaging as classics like Wizardry or The Summoning due to the complete absence of plot development or NPC interaction. If you're in the mood for a challenging hack & slash RPG with negligible plot, Trial by Magic packs enough tough monsters and huge levels to occupy you for dozens of hours. A decent game overall, but still not as polished as classic dungeon romps like Dungeon Master or Eye of Beholder games. Still, considering that this was Silver Lightning's first RPG release, it was a commendable effort that paved the way to superior Ancient Evil and its sequel.
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Trial by Magic screenshot
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