If you’re thinking that the title sounds familiar, then you probably remember it from the Steve Jackson / Ian Livingston Fighting Fantasy book of the same name. Books that had kids all over the country managing to keep five different places in the same book, just in case they should have picked up the silver sword instead of the silver brooch. Well, someone has turned this Fighting Fantasy book into a living breathing Boardgame / action RPG.
Author: Raven (Jim Franklin)
Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Genre: Tabletop Adventure
Release date: 31st August, 2016
For those not familiar with Fighting Fantasy books, they are in short a choose-your-own-adventure book that includes inventory management, and combat. As you read, you are confronted with options, go left or right, sneak past the orc or charge at it, choose an item to pick up and so on. There is also combat which is based on dice rolling.
The Tin Man Games version of Warlock of Firetop Mountain keeps the same methodology of the Fighting Fantasy books but adds to the more mundane elements of them. For example, you read the actual pages of the book, (or snippets of the book if they are only short) yet you are now represented on an ever growing dungeon as you explore. All the decisions are the same as they were, and you’re still asked to roll dice to test for luck and skill.
You don’t roll your own statistics, because let’s be honest when you were rolling for the books themselves, you’d just keep rolling until you got max stats anyway. Instead, you now have a number of different characters to choose from, each with their own pros and cons.
Combat is the area they took a look at and realised that dice rolling would be kinda boring, so they looked at it and made the combat more strategic. For example, in the books combat was all about rolling dice and aiming to get higher than your opponents skill score. In the Steam version you move around a replica of the room, attempting to dodge your opponent’s attacks while landing your own.
The game is saved by your character visiting a rest point, which will also heal some of your characters hit points if you eat some of your provisions.
The entire game is controlled using the mouse and the left button, which keeps things really simple. The interface is also really clean and simple, only a few buttons are added to get to your inventory, character sheet and game options. The screen is fairly which keeps all the focus on the screen.
I love the way Warlock of Firetop Mountain looks. Everything from the original styled book pages, to the newly discovered dungeon pieces which drops into place from above as you explore. Even as you move your main sprite around the board it’s animated as if you are moving a board-game piece around the board, in a sort of South Park type way. This isn’t a bad thing, on the contrary I think it adds to the animated board game charm of WoFM.
The difficulty is carried over from the books. As you explore you’re always in danger of picking up the wrong item, or making the wrong choice such as sitting on a table that turns you into silver and instantly kills you. The combat is relatively strategic, so in most cases you can mitigate how much damage you take. I found that I was more likely to head back into the dungeon and learn from my mistakes then to throw the mouse at the screen in frustration, so I’d say it’s a good level of difficulty to have.
Warlock of Firetop Mountain has the scope for a great amount of playability. Hopefully, Tin Man Games will use this as a vehicle to release other Fighting Fantasy games. As it stands as a one book deal, I think it almost depends how many times you’d read a book. Apart from the odd Luck roll or combat outcome, nothing will really change from one game to the other. So once you’ve got to the end and completed the story, you may want to play it through with one of the other playable characters but the story will be very similar.
I did enjoy playing WoFM, it twanged on the strings of my nostalgia. It was also a very welcome change to not be able to cheat (Not that I did of course, I mean my friend, yes my friend he cheated all the time. Never me though.) The faux-boardgame style and familiar gameplay was perfect. Will I be playing this game in a few months’ time? Probably not, but I will be looking out for other books done in the same style.
Story – 90
Gameplay – 85
Control – 80
Graphics – 80
Difficulty – 70
Replayability – 80