The Gamebook Adventures series is quite an interesting franchise. In the wake of the re-release of the classic Fighting Fantasy series from Steve Jackson himself, Tin Man Games dared to enter the market with their own title, originally developed from the ground up for the iDevice. I have reviewed the first two titles Gamebook Adventures 1: An Assassin in Orlandes (TMA Review) & Gamebook Adventures 2: The Siege of the Necromancer (TMA Review) and found them very compelling. They’re very well written and more focus on the adventure than combat part of the process, though when it comes to finding the best endings, they can be a bit too difficult for the uninitiated. In their latest release - Gamebook Adventures 3: Slaves of Rema – they vowed to fix the latter issue, making the games accessible to both casual and die-hard gamers.
As with all the other GBA games, Slaves of Rema is a classic Choose Your Own Adventure title. It is set in the Orlandes universe, putting you in charge of a young soldier of the coastal city of Bosque. After being captured in a pirate raid on your ship, you are taken away to a nearby nation and thrust to fight for your life in a gladiatorial arena. Thankfully with a handful of comrades, you manage to escape the dreaded fighting pit and you now have to make your way home to reunite with your family and reveal the treachery to your people.
The first pleasant surprise upon starting up a new game was the long-missing difficulty selection option. You can choose either the classic mode found in the previous instances), the bookworm (exactly like the classic but the bookmark limit is upped to 10) and the novice mode (where in addition to the bookmark cap the stats are also calculated more favourably to the player). And while this selection goes a long way towards making the series more appealing to the casual player, it doesn’t solve the aforementioned issue completely.
If you’re not familiar with the premise of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games – you’re basically reading a book, while having the ability to influence the narrative, be it through choices after a situation or various dice rolls, like combat or some other kinds of checks. The combat, by the way, is quite straightforward, with you and your opponent rolling to attack and defend in turn. The attack/defence strength defines the amount of dice to roll. A hit is counted if the highest attacking player’s dice value is higher than the highest defending player’s dice value, making it possible to win against even a much stronger enemy if you have enough luck and patience.
The real issue with Slaves of Rema, as with the previous installments, is the rather high difficulty level. And I’m not talking about the combat balance or other random checks. I’m referring to the very high probability of reaching near the end of the game, where only then do you find out that you’ve missed some crucial and obscure object at the very beginning. And without any obvious way of correcting your progress, having to play through many many times just to get on the correct path to win the game is very frustrating. The upped cap of bookmarks for the bookworm and novice difficulties certainly helps but without an obvious way to decide where the crucial junctions are, players are bound to revisit various branches in the storyline numerous times. The achievements try to offset this a bit by giving additional incentives to replay the game, but without any integration of a social network it just doesn’t feel right.
On the technical side the Slaves of Rema is almost at the level of perfection. The graphics have been optimized for the Retina display and look gorgeous, the interface is easy to understand and use, with the bare minimum of excess buttonry and the dice animations are simply superb.
The latest installment in the Gamebook Adventures series, Slaves of Rema, tries to remedy some of the criticism of the previous games. The added option of choosing a difficulty level will certainly make the game more appealing to casual players, especially with the graphics updated to Retina quality. Unfortunately the very narrow path you have to take to reach the final makes it almost a given that you’ll have to play through the game at least 3-4 times. If this doesn’t frighten you, you’ll definitely enjoy the excellent writing, beautiful illustrations and involving gameplay.
With this I declare Gamebook Adventures 3: Slaves of Rema officially touched!
|Title:||Gamebook Adventures 3: Slaves of Rema||Developer:||Tin Man Games|
|Reviewed Ver:||1.2||Min OS Req:||3.1.3|