Eye of the Beholder (video game)

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Eye of the Beholder
Eye of the Beholder I PC box.jpeg
DOS/Amiga cover art
Developer(s) Westwood Associates
Publisher(s) Strategic Simulations, Inc.
Capcom (SNES)
Sega (Sega CD)
Pony Canyon, Inc. (PC-98)
Director(s) Brett W. Sperry
Designer(s) Phillip W. Gorrow
Eydie Laramore
Paul S. Mudra
Joseph Bostic
Artist(s) Rick Parks
Aaron E. Powell
Joseph B. Hewitt IV
Writer(s) Eydie Laramore
Composer(s) Paul S. Mudra
Yuzo Koshiro (Sega CD)
SeriesEye of the Beholder
Platform(s) DOS, Amiga, Sega CD, SNES, PC-98
Release 1991 (DOS)
1991 (Amiga)
1992 (PC-98)
April 1994 (SNES) [1]
1994 (Sega CD)
Genre(s) Role-playing video game
Mode(s) Single-player

Eye of the Beholder is a role-playing video game for personal computers and video game consoles developed by Westwood Associates. It was published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. in 1991 [2] [3] for the DOS operating system and later ported to the Amiga, the Sega CD and the SNES. The Sega CD version features a soundtrack composed by Yuzo Koshiro. [4] A port to the Atari Lynx handheld was developed by NuFX in 1993, but was not released. [5] In 2002 the game was an adaptation of the same name was developed by Pronto Games for the Game Boy Advance.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Personal computer Computer intended for use by an individual person

A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or technician. Unlike large costly minicomputer and mainframes, time-sharing by many people at the same time is not used with personal computers.

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.


The game has two sequels, Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon , released in 1991, and Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor , released in 1993. The third game, however, was not developed by Westwood, which had been acquired by Virgin Interactive in 1992 and created the Lands of Lore series instead.

<i>Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon</i> 1991 video game

Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon is a 1991 role-playing video game and the sequel to the first Eye of the Beholder. It used a modified version of the first game's engine, added outdoor areas and greatly increased the amount of interaction the player had with their environment, along with substantially more role-playing aspects to the game. A sequel, Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor, was released in 1993.

<i>Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor</i> 1993 video game

Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor is a 1993 role-playing video game and the sequel to Eye of the Beholder and Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon.

Virgin Interactive former British video game publisher

Virgin Interactive Entertainment was the video game publishing division of British conglomerate the Virgin Group. It was formed as Virgin Games in 1983. Initially built around a small development team called the Gang of Five, the company grew significantly after purchasing budget label Mastertronic in 1987.


The lords of the city of Waterdeep hire a team of adventurers to investigate an evil coming from beneath the city. The adventurers enter the city's sewer, but the entrance gets blocked by a collapse caused by Xanathar, the eponymous beholder. The team descends further beneath the city, going through Dwarf and Drow clans, to Xanathar's lair, where the final confrontation takes place.

Waterdeep is a fictional city-state that forms part of a Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game campaign setting called the Forgotten Realms. It is a port city that is located along the western coast of the Faerûn sub-continent. Known as the City of Splendors, Waterdeep is one of the largest and busiest cities and one of the most important political powers on the continent. The population is primarily human although other races dwell therein. The city government consists of a cryptocracy of (mostly) anonymous individuals known as the Masked Lords of Waterdeep.

Beholder (<i>Dungeons & Dragons</i>) classic D&D monster

The beholder is a fictional monster in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Its appearance is that of a floating orb of flesh with a large mouth, single central eye, and many smaller eyestalks on top with powerful magical abilities.

Dwarf (<i>Dungeons & Dragons</i>) people from Dungeons & Dragons

A dwarf, in the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy roleplaying game, is a humanoid race, one of the primary races available for player characters. The idea for the D&D dwarf comes from European mythologies and J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), and has been used in D&D and its predecessor Chainmail since the early 1970s. Variations from the standard dwarf archetype of a short and stout demihuman are commonly called subraces, of which there are more than a dozen across many different rule sets and campaign settings.

Once the eponymous beholder is killed, the player would be treated to a small blue window describing that the beholder was killed and that the adventurers returned to the surface where they were treated as heroes. Nothing else was mentioned in the ending and there were no accompanying graphics. This was changed in the later released Amiga version, which featured an animated ending.


Eye of the Beholder gameplay screenshot on SNES Eye of the Beholder Screenshot.png
Eye of the Beholder gameplay screenshot on SNES

Eye of the Beholder featured a first-person perspective in a three-dimensional dungeon, [6] very similar to the earlier Dungeon Master . [7] The player controls four characters, initially, using a point-and-click interface to fight monsters. [6] This can be increased to a maximum of six characters, by resurrecting one or more skeletons from dead non-player characters (NPC), or finding NPCs that are found throughout the dungeons.

Video game clone

A video game clone is either a video game similar to, or inspired, by a previous popular game or series. Usually the term is derogatory, implying a lack of originality and creativity; however, an intentional clone may be anything from a "ripoff" to an honorary homage to its exemplar. The accusation of a game being a clone carries the implication that its developers or publishers try to profit off of the exemplar's success. It may even take the form of an allegation of plagiarism or fraud, which could be taken to court.

<i>Dungeon Master</i> (video game) 1987 video game

Dungeon Master is a realtime role-playing video game featuring a pseudo-3D first-person perspective. It was developed and published by FTL Games for the Atari ST in 1987, almost identical Amiga and PC (DOS) ports following in 1988 and 1992.

A non-player character (NPC), also known as a non-playable character, is any character in a game which is not controlled by a player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer via algorithmic, predetermined or responsive behavior, but not necessarily true artificial intelligence. In traditional tabletop role-playing games, the term applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee, rather than another player.

The possibility to increase the size of the player's party through the recruiting of NPCs was a tradition in all of the Eye of the Beholder series. It was also possible to import a party from Eye of the Beholder into The Legend of Darkmoon or from The Legend of Darkmoon into Assault on Myth Drannor; thus, a player could play through all three games with the same party.


Critical reception

Review scores
CVG 95%(Amiga)
96%(DOS) [8]
Dragon Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [9]
EGM 6.2/10 (SNES)
7.2/10 (Sega CD) [10]

Eye of the Beholder was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #171 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column, who gave it 5 out of 5 stars. [9] It was #1 on the Software Publishers Association's list of top MS-DOS games for April 1991, the last SSI D&D game to reach the rank. [11] Dennis Owens of Computer Gaming World called it "a stunning, brilliantly graphic and agonizingly tricky" 3-D CRPG. The magazine stated that the game's VGA graphics and sound card audio finally gave IBM PC owners a Dungeon Master-like game. [12] Scorpia, another reviewer for the magazine, was less positive. Although also praising the graphics and audio, stating that they "really give you the feeling of being in an actual dungeon", she criticized the awkward spell user interface and the "outrageous" abrupt ending. Other areas that needed work included the combat, plot, and NPC interaction; nonetheless, she was hopeful that with such improvements "the Legend series will become one of the leaders in the CRPG field". [13] In 1993 Scorpia called the game "an impressive first effort that bodes well for the future". [14]

<i>Dragon</i> (magazine) magazine

Dragon was one of the two official magazines for source material for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game and associated products; Dungeon was the other.

<i>Computer Gaming World</i> American video game magazine

Computer Gaming World (CGW) was an American computer game magazine published between 1981 and 2006.

Sound card internal computer expansion card that facilitates the input and output of audio signals

A sound card is an internal expansion card that provides input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs. The term sound card is also applied to external audio interfaces used for professional audio applications.

According to GameSpy in 2004, despite the issues in the first Eye of the Beholder, "most players found the game well worth the effort". [15] CRPG Addict in 2015 gave it a 41 out of 100 score, six points lower than the score for Dungeon Master. He criticized the combat system and lack of in-game economy, but approved of the graphics, sound, user interface, and gameplay, concluding with "I enjoyed it ... It just wasn't as good as it could have been". [16]

Hailing the game as "a dream come true" for Dungeons & Dragons fans, Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Super NES version a 6.2 out of 10, praising its 3-D graphics and variety of characters. [10] They gave the Sega CD version a 7.2 out of 10, this time praising the ability to create custom characters but criticizing the audio. They also remarked that the game has a difficult learning curve. [10]

IGN ranked Eye of the Beholder No. 8 on their list of "The Top 11 Dungeons & Dragons Games of All Time" in 2014. [17] Ian Williams of Paste rated the game #8 on his list of "The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames" in 2015. [18] In 1991, PC Format placed Eye of the Beholder on its list of the 50 best computer games of all time. The editors called it a "classic romp through dungeons dealing with monsters, puzzles, traps and things mythical." [19]

Commercial performance

SSI sold 129,234 copies of Eye of the Beholder. By mid 1991 over 150,000 copies had been sold worldwide. [20]


From February till October 1991, SSI started up a contest "Beholder Bonus", which required players to find a bonus feature (easter egg) in each level of the game, indicated by an onscreen message. The first 50 PC players and 50 Amiga players to discover all 12 features would win $100 worth prizes. [21] [22]



There were two sequels: Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon used a modified version of the first game's engine, added outdoor areas and greatly increased the amount of interaction the player had with their environment, along with substantially more 'roleplaying' aspects to the game.

Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor was not developed by Westwood, the developer of Eye of the Beholder and The Legend of Darkmoon, but rather in-house by the publisher SSI.

Eye of the Beholder Trilogy (1995, SSI) was a rerelease of all the three games for DOS on CD-ROM. Interplay released the three games along with a number of other AD&D DOS Games in two collection CDs: The Forgotten Realms Archives (1997) and Gamefest: Forgotten Realms Classics (2001).

Several modules for Neverwinter Nights (2002) have been created by fans as remakes of the original Eye of the Beholder game. [23] [24] A team of Indie game developers led by Andreas Larsson did a fan conversion of the game for the Commodore 64. [25]

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