Fighting Fantasy Legends: review

  • Format: PC, Android
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Nomad Games
  • Developer: Nomad Games
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://nomadgames.co.uk/
  • Game code provided by the Developer

Fighting Fantasy Legends condenses a great deal into one package. Taking the Fighting Fantasy formula and applying it to game isn’t new, but this is doing it in a new way. This time it’s less linear and, rather than following one book, you get three. It covers The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Citadel of Chaos, and City of Thieves.

Taking inspiration from the gamebooks, this is not an easy game by any measure. Even on the lowest difficulty it will likely see you despondent and battered until you can work out how everything works. This isn’t a game that’s easy to get into, for sure; it’s quite a harsh start if you haven’t grasped how to make best use of everything at your disposal.

It’s all about the dice rolls. Dice are one of two types – stamina or luck –  and you’ll be needing plenty of both. Each die only starts with one of the six faces as a success, so the more you roll the better your odds. You can enhance a die each time you level up, gaining one more success per face – up to a total of three successes on one die. However, you can also be injured or cursed which exchanges a success for a failure on its respective type.

These can be healed away, but you might not have the gold, items, or access to heal up for free. We restarted our save twice because we felt like we were being made weaker a little too quickly because of this. We had no money and our dice weren’t that good. Every time you die you gain another injury on a die’s face, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the failure faces make any skill checks fail as well. This made it too infuriating to continue; we were gaining failure faces quicker than we could get rid of them.

It’s not all doom and gloom though (well, aside from the fact that there’s a malevolent evil oppressing the people of this land). Once you get into the swing of things, and most importantly, if you don’t take unnecessary risks, you might level up enough to be considered powerful. Or at least, not that easy to maim. It means that you’ll begin to take out monsters in one attack, which usually means you don’t take any damage at all. That might not sound like a good thing, but more often than not you’ll find yourself getting battered and unable to heal up. So, taking out anything before it can hurt you is always good news.

The three main quests correspond loosely to the source books, but other than making you enter the City of Thieves to get the first set of quests, you’re more or less free to do things in whatever order you like (so long as that ends with you ultimately killing Zanbar Bone in his tower). What also adds to the non-linearity is the chance to take multiple routes through each of the dungeons/areas. It’s worth noting that you can re-enter areas again and again, so you’re never going to miss out on anything unless it’s a one-time opportunity.

Thankfully those are few and far between, so you can rest easy knowing that you will eventually be able to see everything – though that will require you to play through areas multiple times. This might sound good but it’s simultaneously the worst bit too. You will end up going through areas over and over regardless of whether or not you want to. It’s not always clear where you need to go for some of the main quest items, so you’ll have to follow other paths; sometimes many, many times over if you fail at a crucial dice roll or just don’t know the correct path to take.

The other thing that bothered us is that not only do you need to do this for quest items, but we felt that we had to redo levels purely to gain extra XP and level up more. Feeling weak isn’t necessarily the problem but needing to be powerful enough to kill the strongest enemies without being completely worn down first is. Losing a hit point or two isn’t the end of the world but it adds up over the course of a level, meaning that you might fall at the last hurdle purely because of the previous war of attrition.

The thing that did really stand out with trawling back through areas, is the abundance of random events. These can be anything from a fight against vagabonds to more themed events depending on the area, but they do make each replay more interesting and even coming across the same event doesn’t happen so often that it becomes tedious. The only events that came up a bit too frequently were ones where we found random piles of gold – which is always weird when it’s in a hallway or path that is quite well travelled.

It’s unsurprising that this is well written considering the source material, and it’s a more manageable way of digesting it compared to the ‘flick to page X’ that some of you may be used to.  It’s not as comprehensive as the books, but it does feel like quite the journey, even though you spend a considerable amount of time retreading the same ground. It’s a shame that there’s no hint of more to come, but it feels like a complete package after you’ve tied up all the loose ends.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I’ve done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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