Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon in Review – The best a gamebook can get?

Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon (FFDD) is the second in the long series of the Choose-your-own-adventure type gamebooks, released by Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone, that has been adapted to the iPhone by Big Blue Bubble. When I reviewed Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (TMA Review) a couple of months ago I found several areas the developers could improve on. Did they read my review? Did they take the problems into consideration? Let’s find out! Feel free to discuss this review of Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon in our forums.

Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon is the second installment of the legendary interactive RPG gamebooks and a classic one at that. This time the story revolves about challenging the devious Baron Sukumvit and his Trial of Champions. This devilish maze has not been conquered to date, but we’re going to change that, won’t we? Really, won’t we? Please?

The basic mechanics have not changed since the first gamebook was released. And why should they? You start by rolling dice for your Skill, Stamina and Luck attributes and choosing a potion to help you on your merry way. And off you go into the world, previously ruled by papercut peril. Page after page you will choose a path to proceed and flip the pages to find out what happens next.

Along your path you will find items, fight monsters, get into traps, escape them, meet your fellow contenders and much much more. All interactions are limited to either choosing a page to turn to or to dice rolling. Some rolls may be as simple and straight-forward as getting a roll lower than your stats. Battles are a bit more complicated, though not so much as to get confusing. Both you and your opponent roll dice, add skill levels and compare. Whichever is higher – hits for 2 stamina. You could also try to roll for luck on a hit for double damage though I would advise against it since every luck roll reduces it by one. And you WILL need each and every point later.

As with the first game the overall theme is the classic dungeon crawling. An excellent ability, that makes the game much more friendly to the casual player than say, Gamebook Adventures 1: An Assassin in Orlandes (TMA Review), is the excellent auto-save feature, that allows you to retrace your steps and choose a different path at any point in the game without any ill consequences. That said the mentioned title from Tin Man Games has a much better story to back it up with a much more varied gameplay.

The graphics in Deathtrap Dungeons are excellent, keeping the feeling of actually playing a book, with page flipping animations to back it up and pictures that come alive at a double-tap of a finger. It is nice to see the developers put some muscle into optimising the game since the animation feel much more fluid than the first game. And the same goes to the dice-rolling, which was the biggest flaw of Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain – they are smooth, quick and the animations are finally skippable with a simple double-tap to make those long battles much easier.

Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon is model of how the developer should account for past flaws. Keeping the classic mechanics and story they alleviated the frustrating animation delays to make for completely authentic and user-friendly experience. Without the ability to step away from the classic dungeon-crawling-centered gameplay Big Blue Bubble made it the best experience possible.

With this I declare Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon Developer: Big Blue Bubble
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 25.3 MB
  • Authentic gameplay mechanics
  • Fluid skippable animations
  • Beautiful zooming illustrations
  • Dungeon-crawling centric gameplay


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A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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