GAME REVIEW: CAVERNS OF THE SNOW WITCH / AUTHOR: IAN LIVINGSTONE / PUBLISHER: TIN MAN GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
By now it’s fair to say that we know the score when it comes to Tin Man Games’ adaptations of Fighting Fantasy game books. The Australian game-developer has made a name for itself by turning these classics into new apps for mobile devices. For those of you unlucky enough to miss the 1980s, Fighting Fantasy books put the reader in charge of the narrative, demanding that you make decisions at key points. Sometimes these decisions would involve a fight with monsters or something similarly perilous, and dice would be involved. Tin Man Games have automated these elements by adapting them for your smartphone, though clever design still allows you to fudge dice rolls and cheat in other ways as well.
Caverns of the Snow Witch is considered a bit of a classic by connoisseurs of the Fighting Fantasy franchise. Like most of the books, it’s set in Allansia, a high fantasy land filled with elves, dwarves, orcs and similar sort of creatures. The adventure begins with you being hired to deal with some sort of giant snow beast which is tormenting the local traders. Of course, it’s not as simple as that; once you’ve dealt with one problem, you uncover a deeper mystery and find yourself embroiled within the machinations of a hideous and powerful creature known to the locals as the Snow Witch. Getting in and out of a lair is a task in and of itself, and dealing with all the consequences of the Snow Witch’s evil raises this little game from a simple distraction to an epic quest. The narrative is a sprawling one, and just when you think it’s about to be over another plot twist comes along. This is part of the fun and also lends itself well to casual play, making it a great distraction for commuters.
Livingstone’s writing and game design are very strong here; the story telling is done in such a way that the player can bring as much immersion to the affair as they wish; you can get really stuck in if you want or you can just play this in a simple way, solving the puzzles, winning the battles and not really paying that much attention to the plot. Both approaches are equally fun. The art has also been given a bit of polish and there are some cracking illustrations on this app.
It fits in well with the other Fighting Fantasy games Tin Man produces, and indeed you could quite cheerfully play this and Forest of Doom one after each other and keep a lot of narrative consistency. Those of us who have a had a little bit too much of listening to the Frozen soundtrack this year may also get a kick out of beating up snow witches. Caverns of the Snow Witch is a great blast from the past, perfect for the winter months.
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