Background noises, a self-adjusting narrative and stiff but elaborately detailed animated figures add extra avenues of engagement to the first episode of this four-part role-playing game, which was originally published across the pond in print in the 1980s.
Played from an aerial viewpoint on a pinchable landscape map, the game starts “you” (a generic warrior-wizard) in Outpost Settlement, where food and a spell book can be “purchased.” Then it’s on down a series of forking roads through rough towns and with encounters with hoodlums, headhunters and other hazards on a quest to claim the Crown of Kings from the distant fortress of Mampang. Or dying suddenly, which happens early and often but can be turned into a do-over by touching “rewind” buttons. Each tap on the central figure causes a brief passage of text plus directions for sword- or spell-action options to slide out from the edges. Banners at the top track remaining stamina, gold and food levels, plus a spirit animal that’s intermittently available for bailouts. Though some of the illustrations are just black-and-white line drawings, true animation is minimal, and too many of the action choices involve doing nothing or actually avoiding engagements, satisfying quantities of swordplay and spellcasting await experienced young gamers. Unlike the print versions, there is no way to skip ahead if players get stuck, however.
The many opportunities for inaction can dull the experience, but it’s a cut above Choose Your Own Adventure in both visuals and complexity of play. (iPad adventure game. 11-13)