RPGWatch Feature: - Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review

Myrthos

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Pessimeister sent in his review of the recently released The Warlock of Firetop Mountain review.

Fighting Fantasy came into existence in 1982 when Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone released the hugely influential original game-book "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain". The series distinguished itself from Choose Your Own Adventure by making "YOU" the hero and incorporating a simple role-playing system that used two dice replete with character defining statistics and rules for combat. Even as early as 1984, attempts were made at bringing these books into the world of video games, with several famous titles being made for systems at the time such as the C64 and ZX Spectrum.

Fighting Fantasy declined in popularity in the mid-90s but rose again via the Wizard Books relaunch of the brand starting in 2002. The books remain formative role-playing experiences for many fans around the world.c

Teleport directly into the modern day - the series has had a reimagining or rebirth of sorts via companies such as Inkle and TinMan games releasing game versions of classic titles such as the Sorcery! series, House of Hell and Forest of Doom, effectively reinterpreting game-book experiences for new and old audiences alike.
More information.
 
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Myrthos

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Thanks Pessimeister for sending in this review.
 
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HiddenX

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Thank you Pessimeister - I linked your review to our Steam curation list.
 
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ikbenrichard

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Nice review!
Too bad the combat is simple and kinda repetitive. Looks otherwise quite good .
 
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Pessimeister

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Hi guys, thanks for reading. Thanks also to 'Watch editors for polishing it for publication. It's a nice feeling to be able to finally contribute in this way here. :)

@ ikbencrichard
It's a fun little game really and you'd still likely get some decent play time out of it (i'm at 22 hours after 5+ playthroughs) Maybe pick it up on sale if you're still unsure.
 
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forgottenlor

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Thanks for the great review, Pessemeister. I'm not sure if the game is for me, though. I bought Sorcery 2 for my phone, and played it through twice before losing interest in it. I've also found visual novel type games like the Banner Saga and Unrest disappointing. I find myself able to enjoy games with good gameplay and not much story, but I have trouble with games that are story based with minimal gameplay.
 
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Pessimeister

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Cheers Forgottenlor. I can understand your misgivings here, definitely. You could probably consider it a mild distraction at best if you did pick it up.
However, this game does have a little more depth I think than all of the game-book hybrids that I've played in the past, (although I've not played any of the Inkle games to completion yet) and it does aspire to do something new and different with the genre, particularly with the combat system and the encouragement to try a different character or an alternate pathway.
 
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Pessimeister

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The game received a sizeable update today:

The Allansian Wanderer's Update:

The Allansian Wanderers update includes a Linux version of the game, three new playable heroes to choose from, and more!

FEATURES
Three new playable characters, with new stories, combat moves and achievements
Linux version of the game
Art Gallery to keep track of illustrations you have seen
A new feature detailing the History of Fighting Fantasy from the 1980s to today
Timeline of Fighting Fantasy paperback releases
UPDATES
Additional checkpoint benches to give you the upper hand against Zagor's devious traps
Decreased the amount of souls required to purchase new heroes
Optimizations to make more efficient use of hard disk space

NEW HEROES
Lin Wen-Wu
This reluctant warrior wishes to avenge his brother, who lost his sword arm in combat with an Orc Chieftain who makes his home in Firetop Mountain.

Malleus Malleus
A famed gladiator severely wounded by a werewolf, Malleus Malleus is cursed with lycanthropy. He must seek the werewolf before the curse cannot be cured.

Lynette Hurtado
Lynette is a guardian of the temple of the Goddess of Justice and Truth. Citizens have requested her assistance in their resistance against the cruel tyranny of the Warlock, Zagor.

http://steamcommunity.com/games/324740/announcements/detail/991180365033479102
 
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screeg

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I find myself able to enjoy games with good gameplay and not much story, but I have trouble with games that are story based with minimal gameplay.
We're right in sync there. I've got metric tons of options for reading/viewing a good story, I don't need games for that.
 
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beldurax

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Bought the game last night on Steam. After playing it for an hour, I filed for a refund from Steam. I was 12-year old when the original book was published and still have many of the original FF RP novels in my man cave. They were a very special time of my youth, indeed. Unfortunately, this computer game does not do the original justice, AT ALL. Very hokey.
 
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We're right in sync there. I've got metric tons of options for reading/viewing a good story, I don't need games for that.

Recently I've preferred interesting and deep gameplay mechanics over story in RPGs. I've always been a stats nerd for RPGs, sports, etc.

My main thing is if the RPG elements are good (tinkering with stats, classes, character building, items and inventory, exploration, etc.). I like games that give you an "infinite playground" of possibilities to creatively play the game. A good story can be cool as well, and I do enjoy stories in RPGs, but the game should have interesting gameplay mechanics as well for me to really dig deep into it.
 
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Pessimeister

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Bought the game last night on Steam. After playing it for an hour, I filed for a refund from Steam. I was 12-year old when the original book was published and still have many of the original FF RP novels in my man cave. They were a very special time of my youth, indeed. Unfortunately, this computer game does not do the original justice, AT ALL. Very hokey.

Hi Beldurax. Welcome to the Watch! I can understand your protective sentiments; my review score very much tries to show that this is a game that will divide opinions.
Similar to yourself, I've got the entire main 59 book FF collection and can still go back to reading them now and again.

On the question of doing the original justice - I'd invite you to read the "idealisations of nostalgia" section of my review, but certainly as far as the Maze of Zagor goes, there were extra avenues TinMan could have explored to make it more memorable and also more in line with the book experience.

I'd definitely consider writing your own review on Steam if you haven't already to give voice to your opinion on these matters, as no doubt the company needs more direction and detailed feedback going forward.
 
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ruysan

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I like what they did with the book, but the combat gets boring real quick. For me that's the main problem with the game.

I also dislike the combat in the Sorcery! Adaptations. I would prefer if games had the simple dice combat
 
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Pessimeister

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G'day Ruysan

Hopefully TinMan Games will release the classic game-book mode (with the traditional dice combat) as part of an update soon, as this was one of the stretch goals originally in the Kickstarter. I suspect they're still debating however whether or not to release it as a stand-alone app or as an additional mode to the established game.
 
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screeg

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Offering classic die rolling would certainly change it up! If they got rid of the absolutely awful letter carousel for casting a spell, I might go back to it.
 
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Pongo

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Thanks Pessimeister, that's a well written review and fair assessment in my opinion. And I never realised they did C64 versions of some of those books, I wonder why I missed that back in the day...

I've only had one attempt so far, using Alexandra of Blacksand (purely picked on the basis of 10 Skill - its so much more important in these games than a high Stamina....). I didn't manage to beat it, even using the three resurrection stones, but none of my deaths felt unfair. Even the insta-death had a fair few warnings that I ignored beforehand.

I really like the simple graphics and the way they've brought the areas to life, but you're right about the combat. Even after only an hour I was getting a bit bored with the repetitive combat grid. Also, at first I didn't realise that the enemies move on a systematic routine rather than making judgements - once you've spotted this it gets easier to pick the tiles to attack to win. It felt a bit like "gaming the system" sometimes rather than doing anything clever. Some of the later creatures with specific combat skills like Grab shook things up a bit, but yeah it felt a bit weakly implemented.

I really liked the way they've merged the images and texts from the book though. I haven't played the original in many, many years (I sold my collection about twenty years ago, like a big iggit) but they have loads of vivid memories for me. There's definitely a nostalgia kick from playing this. Not sure how much that has coloured my view of the game, but I suspect its a fair bit, because despite its flaws I had a good time with it and I'm going to go back and try again. Just not immediately...

I heard Tin Man Games are considering doing Grail Quest conversions at some point, and I have a soft spot for all the JH Brennan stuff. And in Warlock, the optional map opens up loads of possibilities - Deathtrap Dungeon like you say, Port Blacksand itself.... Forest of Doom? My personal favorite was always the Talisman of Death, but I think that took place in a different fictional universe to the earlier books. Anyway, I hope they learn from this one and come back stronger, there's definite potential here if they can sort some of the niggling issues.
 
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beldurax

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I like what they did with the book, but the combat gets boring real quick. For me that's the main problem with the game.

I also dislike the combat in the Sorcery! Adaptations. I would prefer if games had the simple dice combat

I agree most wholeheartedly about the problematic combat in the Sorcery! adaptations ! I too tried Socery! Parts 1 and 2, and found the combat to be implemented just plain WRONG. Like you said, it should have done with dice. Also missing are the SKILL, and LUCK statistics in the Sorcery! computer versions, as well as the fact that you cannot create/roll your character from scratch.

I consoled myself by starting to read this series with a brand new character, this past Thanksgiving weekend ! :)
 
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