Review: ADoM 1.1.1 for Linux

ADoM 1.1.1 Title Screen

ADoM 1.1.1 Title Screen

Ancient Domains of Mystery by Thomas Biskup is one of my favorite games of all time, and fortunately it available as a native Linux application, as well as Windows, DOS, and Mac OS X. ADoM is a roguelike game in the vein of Rogue, NetHack, and Angband. Unfortunately, it has not been actively developed since 2002, and is only available as a closed-source binary, but it has more than held its own regardless.

Installing ADoM for a single user is a simple affair — there’s a more complicated process to set up ADoM for all users of a machine, but the only real ‘advantage’ is global high score, since ADoM isn’t multiplayer. Instructions come with the download that detail both methods, but here is how I set up ADoM as a single-user install:

  • Unpack the .tar.gz into /usr/games
  • Move the files out of the folder, or make /usr/bin/adom part of your $PATH
  • Open a terminal (make sure it is at least 77×25!)
  • Test if it has installed correctly by typing adom
  • If you see the title screen loading, you’ve met with success!

Before you play, you’ll want to at least skim all three of the readme/manual files included with ADoM (also readable in-game), if for no other reason than to learn the basic keyboard commands, which differ from most (if not all) other roguelikes in the details.

What Not To Do

What *Not* To Do!

ADoM has two major bugs worth mentioning: First, ADoM will expand to fill your terminal, no matter how large. Huge terminals means huge maps, which means much, much harder gameplay for no real added benefit (i.e., you’ll get lost and starve to death on the first level). Don’t repeat my mistake of running ADoM in a 186×58 Yakuake terminal 😛 . Second, don’t pick any of the “Skilled” talents (you’ll see what I mean) in the beginning of the game, as it will crash the game without creating a character. Supposedly fixed, it still affects the current DOS, Windows, and Linux releases.

ADoM stands apart from all other roguelikes I’ve played because of the world map. The world map allows for an amazing amount of flexibility in gameplay, but it also deeply involves the player in the intricate storyline. One of your first choices in the game is to decide whether to save a chaos-infected carpenter or to defeat an evil druid, but you can also try to kill a roaming brigand (or go south to join the outlaws instead), save a young girl’s dog from a insect-infested cave, visit a mysterious cave to the northwest that gets harder with each monster you kill — and each choice makes you wonder whether it was the right one.

I wish there were more games like ADoM out there, with a deep and complex world (and not just a deep and complex dungeon) for me to explore. But until something comparable shows up, the endlessly replayable ADoM will be occupying my spare time — just as it has for the last eight years.

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One thought on “Review: ADoM 1.1.1 for Linux

  1. TKO

    Still an awesome rogue-like, with more depth to it than any of the Ultima games I grew up on. A couple of minor corrections though:
    If you take the puppy-quest, a cave for that is generated to the north-east. The cave to the north-west is always there, and its first level is always difficult because the monsters get very hard. Can be a rewarding place though. 😉

    I like how the carpenter and wizard quests are exclusive. The wizard quest is never offered if you take the carpenter one, and vice versa.

    It’s a hard rogue-like, but well worth the perseverance.

    Reply

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