The Fighting Fantasy series is a franchise that seems unable to die. Perhaps it’s the enduring appeal of the game’s world or the innate immersion of the choose-your-path style books. Or maybe, like those who play the games, it literally cheats death by flicking back to the previous page. Regardless, the series is 35 years old now, and sees no sign of stopping. The latest offering from the world of Alansia is Fighting Fantasy Legends, which is an action style video game approach to the setting.
Legends smashes together three of the classic books; Warlock of Firetop Mountain, City of Thieves and Citadel of Chaos. All three adventures have a similar mission; some sort of evil wizard is making everybody’s lives miserable, and it’s up to you to find a way to beat them up. Rather than try and emulate the books themselves (which previous apps have done fairly readily), this offering feels more like an old-school ‘80s video game, along the lines of Planescape or Baldur’s Gate. As you wander around this fantasy land, causing justice to happen.
There’s some pretty simple character creation; Dwarf, Barbarian, Elf, all of which are the same, rules wise. Add some handy traits and the ability to adjust your starting stats and we are set. Game mechanics are handled by emulating dice and cards. You have three traits: Luck, Skill and Stamina. The latter are merely hit-points, but the first two are represented by nifty animations of dice. Skill is for physical things like hitting people and Luck covers everything else. If you have an ability score of three, the game rolls three dice every time you want to do something. The die is blank except for one swords icon. Get enough swords symbol and you succeed. Levelling up lets you add more swords icons to the dice.
Gameplay involves wandering around the map and interacting with things. You have a bunch of missions to succeed in, and for random encounters and treasure pulls, the game pulls a ‘digital card’, which is usually a monster or some sort, but it could be a greasy urchin or a lucky 4 leafed clover. Lose enough stamina and you leave the currently adventure and gain an injury; these are stamped on your dice and counter sword symbols, so it’s best to find a healer to get rid of them. A similar mechanic exists for luck.
The adventures themselves are pretty fun, though repetitive in the good sort of way (it’s quite addictive). The game wants you to explore everything and, yes, this can be frustrating. Some times you can’t find a thing because it’s in another dungeon and so on. This can be annoying, but it does mean you’re trying all the adventures at once (your inventory gets very full). Fans of the books will be pleased to learn that Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the toughest quest, and yes, those fights do get harder.
As a development of Fighting Fantasy into the world of computer games, it’s certainly a step up. It’s not Skyrim (or even Planescape), but it’s rather fun. Well worth an idle evening or two.
FIGHTING FANTASY LEGENDS / DEVELOPER: NOMAD GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, IPHONE, ANDROID / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW