Gateway To Apshai
The Game: The player controls a weary adventurer weaving his way through a dungeon populated by treasures and deadly danger. Starting out with the clothes on his back, a short sword in hand, and adding what he can along the way, the player’s adventurer progresses through twisty mazes, vanquishes an increasingly dangerous rogues’ gallery of foes, and tries to gather a wealth of treasure… but even opening those treasure chests may reveal traps. (Epyx, 1983)
Memories: The Apshai computer RPGs form a kind of holy trinity of early adventure gaming along with the Ultima and Wizardry series of games. Gateway To Apshai is actually a prequel to the runaway hit Temple Of Apshai, which debuted on Tandy’s TRS-80 computer before cross-pollinating to every other platform under the sun. Gateway is missing Temple‘s famously wordy descriptions of its on-screen chambers, and as such feels completely different from the earlier game. But in hindsight, Gateway is an important step on the evolutionary road for the “action RPG” genre – paving the way for The Legend Of Zelda.
On the Atari 8-bit machines, Gateway is a very smooth gaming experience. The ease of control using both keyboard and joystick is a breeze, and it becomes a very intuitive interface very quickly. It’s a fun little hack-and-slash dungeon crawl.
Gateway may not have been the direction in which Temple Of Apshai devotees necessarily wanted to see the saga go at the time, but in looking back, it’s very easy to see that the seeds for future adventure games that would balance exploration and swashbuckling were planted here. Link owes a lot to those adventurers who stepped through this Gateway.