A seemingly innocent red-cloaked girl and her evil grandma aren’t the only hazards awaiting visitors to a magic wood in this graphic “choose your path” adventure.
Eager to undertake their “Masters of the magical creatures” exam, sibs Hocus and Pocus trot off into Grimm’s Woods in search of two vanished children—then proceed to go their separate ways to encounters with wolves, witches, and other familiar, if sometimes tweaked, residents. The intertwined storylines are played as a game: Readers choose either Hocus or Pocus as avatars; select one of three magical helpers; and then flip back or forth from one numbered panel of cleanly drawn cartoon art to another as options and narrative instructions direct. Challenges added to the plotted hazards include simple number and math puzzles to solve, mazes to run, phrases with missing letters, mini board games requiring coins and dice, and other tests. Game sheets (6 provided, further copies available as a download) are required to keep track of used supplies and accumulated rewards. Players with short attention spans may find all the record-keeping onerous, and too many of the panels are only transitional filler. Still, there are a fair number of cliffhangers, the level of explicit violence is low, and ultimately “you” as either Hocus or Pocus get to shove the witch into a bubbling pot and rescue the children. Hocus, Pocus, and the other human and humanoid characters for the most part present white.
Saddled with lots of rules and constraints but some brainwork—and no batteries—required. (Graphic game fantasy. 8-11)