Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of being a nerd in the eighties. If I had however, I would probably have been worshipping Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone like Gods. Fighting Fantasy, their series of “Choose Your Own Adventure” role playing books, faithfully served the orcish nerds of the era, providing an unparalleled level of control and customisation since 1982. YOU are the protagonist, and while a lot of results are ultimately determined by chance, YOU choose the means while destiny forges the ends.
If, in recent times, you’ve found that physically carrying your precious adventure book is too tiresome (or your scared off a hot girl discovering your geeky secrets), then digital distribution is the way for you. Recently released on the PSN Store under PS Minis, retro nerds all over can now indulge in their dorky exploits on their PS3, or take their adventure on the go with the PSP in Fighting Fantasy: Talisman of Death. However, has this relatively unknown genre really got enough juice left to appeal to a modern PlayStation gaming audience?
My first thoughts were a resounding “No”, as I found it hard not to imagine all the other games I could be enjoying whilst reading this dull interactive adventure book. In fact, there were a lot of books I could be reading that offered a lot more excitement than a tiresome Orcs and Elves medieval/fantasy affair.
Still, I feel it would be unfair to criticise such a game on literary craft, as most of the appeal resides in the multiple choice situations usually found at the beginning of each sequence. For example, “You make your way across open ground, only to discover a band of Orcs charging in your direction”. You are then prompted to choose your next action, i.e. run, hide or stand your ground. Each choice requires you to turn to a different page to register the outcome… and that’s about it. Choices which encourage confrontations will result in a battle of chance with your likelihood of succeeding relying on your attributes of Skill, Stamina and Luck, which are randomly generated at the start of each adventure.
Some brief research on this game should be enough for anyone to determine whether they fancy it or not. If you don’t like the idea of reading text from your screen for hours on end, then you’d best avoid Fighting Fantasy: Talisman of Death. Fans, however, should definitely appreciate the easy to read text and simple user interface implemented by developers Laughing Jackal to expertly tailor the 1984 adventure book to PSP and PS3.
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