Back in 1982, the first range of Fighting Fantasy books, written by Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson, were released. Since then, there have been many new additions to the franchise; various book collections, toys and anything else you can think of. The next logical step, then, would be to bring the series to the videogame audience, and so here the books are, almost literally, in videogame form. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is basically a role-play book in digital form, you start by reading the intro on page one, then set out on a quest on which you need to fight carious creatures, test your skill and luck and try to finish the story. There are, however, many twists and turns.
You begin your play through the book by assigning your skill, strength, luck and stamina scores, before choosinga direction and a page number. From there, you are given more options and page numbers and all you need to do is choose which route you want to take and turn to the corresponding page number. It’s actually quite fun and, if nothing else, a somewhat novel way to merge old school RPG books with modern RPG videogames.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the second of the Fighting Fantasy books released by Laughing Jackal for the PS3 and PSP systems. You begin the story by talking to the locals who tell you a tale of vast treasure at the top of Firetop Mountain. The catch, however, is that the Warlock who also resides up there there will kick your ass to such an extent that, so far, anyone who has made it back has done so with deep mental and physical scars. Since you’re a hero, you take up the challenge, meeting lots of trolls and other creatures on your quest to kill the Warlock and get the treasure. As your story progresses, whether you succeed or fail in each test on your path depends on a spinning rune stone of luck. Your luck score is decided at the start of the game and fighting is based on the roll of the dice and luck once again. In this regard, then, the game stay very true to the mechanics of traditional table-top games.
Anyone that enjoys the Dungeons and Dragons genre of games will love Firetop Mountain, as its very similar in the many ways. The graphics are not that hot, but did you really expect RAGE style graphics in a game about a book? They do the job, and for the most part, the animations are smooth and there are no problems with lag or jumping pages. The music is quite good as the background tunes change based on what you’re doing. So if, for example, you are simply exploring the music is calming and smooth, whilst in battle it is edgy and sharp.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much from this game, so it came as a nice surprise to find that the fun factor is actually quite high. It’s because Firetop Mountain sticks so rigidly to the traditional RPG book style that it makes itself almost impossible for anyone who has a enjoyed a read through of one of these types of books before not to be swept along on a wave of nostalgia at least a fair distance into it’s story. You can quickly lose a lot of time playing, and while the game certainly has some very obvious limitations and a very specific target audience, it also has a way about it and definite charm.
Overall, I would say fans of the RPG book genre and of table-top games will really enjoy The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. It’s a decent conversion of a book into videogame form and its good fun. Whilst it won’t give the adrenaline rush of other games, you will still enjoy the story and the mechanics. It’s a good move for Laughing Jackal to bring this to a new generation and the fact that it’s decently price and also that you can also play it on your PS3 or PSP make it good value. Who knew a book would be so fun?
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