Friday, March 31, 2023

Sword Of Kadash (part three)

Phew, what an adventure!

Well, I've finally done it. I've completed Sword Of Kadash... I think! (don't ask, just carry on reading to the end). When I first started, I genuinely thought that I would be playing for months due to its sheer size and also the fact that I wanted to painstakingly map it. Yet here we are with the third article and the game is finished and mapped.

You know, I have really enjoyed it too because this is a mapper's delight with a wealth of integrated rooms, secret routes, puzzles, hidden rooms and tons of hideous monsters to kill. The map design is very interesting and I like its style. However, it's not all good news as there are a few quirks and peculiar differences I didn't expect.

Before I begin, this is the third part of a mini-series. Have you read the innocence of Part One or the enthusiasm in Part Two? No, I didn't think so! Okay, click on those two links to get an idea of the pain and pleasure I have endured over recent weeks. Go on, both links open up in new browser windows and I'll be waiting here for when you get back.

While waiting for y'all to return, I shall enjoy dumping a couple of funky screenshots below...

I see the devil with horns and beady eyes staring at me! What do you see?
Interestingly, the room just to the south of this location is a formidable part of the maze design!

These little gremlins are weak but very difficult to shoot!!

Back to basics

Okay, because you've clicked the above two links, we all know the story and what's generally involved so let's continue on rather than starting afresh. Unlike many ARPGs, this begins the same each and every time: we start at the entrance of the caverns with a dagger, 2000 hit points (health), armour and fear spells. So, that means we're a dude without a choice of race, personality, skillset or attributes. Still interested? I know, I know, but you should be so read on!

Let's begin with the controls as there are three methods used to guide our little hero and this seems to have confused some YouTubers. The joystick is by far the best method (the keyboard felt unnatural and the mouse is nothing less than a nightmare). So, just press CTRL J to change from the default to the joystick when you first begin your quest. You are able to move (and shoot) in all directions, including diagonally. To shoot, press and hold the fire button and then 'move' in the direction you wish to aim. Oh, and hitting the spacebar activates your one and only magical spell.

Wanna see a couple of really annoying screens that made no sense? Of course, you do so here you go...

Trust me, unless you use the fear spell you have no chance of killing them without getting hurt.

One of the final rooms and it's stuffed with cursed items. Yep, every single item is cursed and there is no way (that I know of) to get around them. Thankfully, if you go back a couple of screens, there is a symbol/cross that can help.

The quest awaits!

I feel I should begin with a little piece of advice for newcomers - when you are about to begin, do not head north without checking out that tree. It's also worth heading back, southward, to find better weapons. Now head north into the fortress where there are a couple of ghosts and bats before stumbling upon a scroll - leave that be as it will come in handy if/when you get cursed. Next, head west for a room of scorpions, thus lots of xp for the killing. There is also a chest, and extra xp, but don't leave without searching for the secret passage that leads to a different room - with a sword!

Yes, items are a big deal in this dungeon and they are also a bit of an oddity. You will frequently find weapons and armour along with others like chests and keys. Collecting anything increases xp but you cannot use the keys as there is nothing to unlock. Nor can you plunder a chest as it's just a chest that does nothing more than increase experience. So, more often than not, the item you're collecting isn't for a particular usage - it's to gain xp and the benefits of that.

However, a selection of items is cursed which severely hampers ability and performance. Only two types of items can help cure you - the symbol cross and magical scrolls. However, this is where the game reveals its truly insidious personality because there is a chance that those might also be cursed. Cruel, very cruel!! So why not make notes? :)

Along the way, there are weird messages which are blatant and helpful. But not in these two screenshots...

I love how the designers left silly drawings and messages (Damon Slye)

The Pit is a disastrous moment but there is a hidden area to hide, but I wasn't quick enough!


The cruelty doesn't end with cursed items because the dungeon is host to a myriad of different traps and, just about everything will trigger something nasty. Heck, you may do nothing more than simply walk into a new room - and BAM!! Lots of arrows begin hurtling towards you. Most of the traps are triggered whenever you collect an item which is weird because you soon become cagey whenever you see something that might be worth picking up.

Many triggered traps are a lot worse and some can fill the room with a bunch of materialised monsters! Not only that but some are super strong and cannot be killed - so run! Lastly, there are a few which truly are game-enders: the boulders that appear from nowhere, rumbling down a corridor to block you in with crushing force! Did you save the game?

It's insane how many traps there are!! Never have I played any game that comes close to this...

Picking up an item and suddenly the screen is full of Mr T's - but one is stuck in the wall lol

This is one of only two puzzles/traps that take serious thought (relates to the 'devil' screenshot - above)


As I said in the previous article, walls sure play a big part in this adventure. I know that's a weird thing to say as most are just, erm, walls but it depends on their colour. The blue ones can be destroyed thus aiding your journey with a new pathway. Sometimes these can help to provide a tactical vantage when shooting the baddies who are unable to reach you. Green walls will repel all your shots which is actually a great mechanic that works very well in battle.

Also, there are invisible walls that are a pain to navigate - there is still one screen which I've not managed to figure out. Heck, other rooms are made entirely from a maze of hidden walls and take, what feels like a lifetime, to suss out! Finally, there are secret walls that are revealed when you walk into it at the right point. However, some need to be shot first - it was only because of my map that I could see the potential routes to many hidden rooms that I might have missed.

So, it can be a bit inconsistent. Which I personally feel means that it was always designed for the gamer to create a basic map with notes. Annoyingly, there is still one room that I never managed to discover how to enter! Which is infuriating for an adventure like me who leaves no stone unturned. Gotta admit defeat now and then, I guess?

Well, I've talked enough about walls so let's see a couple of different screenshots...

Towards the end, some rooms had little fair play element - all items here are cursed! Why???

Oh no, a Lich. This guy is one tough cookie so be quick and deadly in your attack!

Armed to the teeth

Oddly, weaponry felt like an after-through as there are only four: dagger, morning star, axe and sword (all can be augmented magically to a max of +4 for extra damage). Battles are fought only by a range method, regardless of what you are carrying, and there is no actual melee or magic. Also, each weapon is expressed as an arrow and can only be fired in a series of three shots. Of course, you can fire again once they have expired or hit their intended foe.
About magic: there is one spell but it's not offensive and more of a fear spell. When used, all monsters will scarper, thus making it easier to kill them or for us to run away. This effect doesn't last too long but it certainly helps when there are loads of monsters. Use these wisely!
Don't worry about encumberment or inventory because there is no ability to look over your stock or play with your equipment. Whatever you collect is added to your xp with the potential to level up, thus increasing hit points (excluding cursed items). Weaponry will add to your xp but will only be used if it's better than what you already carry.

Right then, I think it's time for some tricky trappy screenshots...

Spiders spring out from the trap and are really tough in this dungeon. Hey, two swords? Beware!

This is the other puzzle that takes some serious thought. Looks easy, right? Hmm...


Being an action game, you won't tread for more than a few steps without having to kill something beastly ranging from ghouls, ghosts, bats, snakes, barbarians, spectres and more all the way up to the Liches. Those guys are very tough and can even spawn other monsters into the arena so step lively. Each enemy has a number of hit points before dying, not that there's any information about that to possibly complicate the already near-non-existent RPG aspect.

It's all a case of keep firing and, if they're strong and still chasing - run away. Now, fire some more shots and start hoping for the best! Of course, touching any will drain them of their hit points, but, at the expense of yours too.

However, all enemies are a bit daft and follow a basic pathway to get you, which often means struggling to navigate around objects. Sometimes that's a good thing as you can tempt them out from another part of the room, one by one. Thus making the overall battle easier albeit rather disappointing in other respects. Learn to manage the hoard.

The next screenshots are from the final rooms that only dedicated players will see (ha!)...

We're nearing the end of our quest. This is Aladag, the dragon guarding the sword.

It's possible to sneak by Aladag to grab the Sword Of Kadash (it looks like a banana!)


I was never going to boot up this old game and expect glorious visuals. It was developed around 1984 so I would be a fool to judge it based on what the Atari ST is actually capable of. The graphics are pretty much what I experienced with my old ZX Spectrum and use a basic design with lots of repeating red brick walls and black backgrounds.

Visually, the monsters are the best part and we get to slaughter a varied and whacky crew. Yes, they're quite poorly drawn compared to Rogue but I love how amateur their movements and animations are - they wobble across the screen. The gremlins are my favourite, small and made from very few pixels yet they still manage to look great.
Sadly, the framerate drops badly when dozens of baddies are persuing. It's a shame as it affects the final rooms heavily. But, something I can forgive for such an ancient release for the (then) new Atari ST.

The audio is almost zilch with no music and few sound effects. What you hear is mostly from your weaponry or when coming into contact with nasties. That's about it. Oh, a little jingle plays when the Lich appears! This is an incredibly short tune but is eerie and works surprisingly well. Otherwise, the entire game is silent without any distractions.

Okay, it's screenshot time again and here we have two sets of enemies that are badass...

I think this monster is called the Mukra, a Jason Voorhees wannabe who is very tough.

Wraiths are incredibly mean and move quickly. So, unless you're armed well ... forget it!

The map!

So the moment you have all (?) been waiting for... the map! My task to complete this game was a very enjoyable and addictive pleasure. However, the ending rooms are a disappointment in comparison to the rest of the entire game.
When at the end, the idea is to kill the dragon Aladag who is guarding the Sword Of Kadash. But there is a hidden passage north of his location, so you can skirt around and pinch the sword. A greeting then appears (the last screenshot below) but the game does not end. In fact, there are a couple more (pointless) rooms to explore, which doesn't make any sense as they are dead ends. So, armed with the Sword Of Kadash, I went back to kill Aladag and, once again, the greeting appeared but it still doesn't end. How odd!!
Rather an anti-climax but I won't let that spoil my memories of what is nothing less than a superb oldskool shooter. As always, the image below is a thumbnail, so click on it to download the high-resolution version. Or zip over to Atari Legend who is kindly hosting a similar version. Anyhow, I hope you guys enjoy using the map??

Carry on scrolling for my final thoughts on Sword Of Kadash...

Greetings to PP for helping me out with a better version of the game and also to Maarten for hosting.

The CryptO'pinion?

I'm sure you can tell how much I have enjoyed playing this? Not only writing the three articles but the mapping was an absolute pleasure and one that enhanced my experience greatly. I've honestly loved every second of the adventure albeit not the RPG that I imagined. In fact, those basic elements are diluted into the background so it has little depth. I would say it's more of an action/shooter with an emphasis on the freedom to roam without following a linear path.

My grumbles are minor, the combat system is limited as each weapon feels the same and there isn't any support for melee at all. Also, the cursed items are a pain in the bum because there are only two types of objects (for a cure). That is very restricting and I would have liked magic to have included the side benefit of dispelling curses too.

Anyhow, if you're in the mood for an alternative "roguelike" then this could be everything you desire. The dungeon is massive, with monsters at every turn, secret passages, and lots of infuriating traps! Just remember to save regularly and make notes. Of course, I have made a map (marking all cursed items) so you could use that as a guide?

Sword Of Kadash is humble and feels old so hasn't aged well but the gameplay is well-balanced throughout and that is something I thoroughly appreciated. I hope you ignore the bland aesthetics and take on board the challenge!!

The best download has just been updated for hard drive and the older floppies are right here.

After all the trial and tribulation, this is the finale. But then it carries on - to a dead end! Bugged?


  1. Seems like something i should have tried. Never got it from Automation :-)

  2. I just read this article again, and it really is well written, i wonder if i had as much fun reading this than you did playing ..

    1. Thx man. Really cool OLD game.