Fighting Fantasy: Blood Of The Zombies in Review – A 30th Anniversary Treat

One sign that you’re getting older is when things you remember from your childhood start having their 30th anniversaries.  Such is the case for me and the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series.  Granted I was only 10 when the first one debuted, but you get my drift.  In this year that marks the third decade of the series’ existence the man himself, Ian Livingstone, has penned a new entry called Blood of the Zombies.  Thanks to Tin Man Games we can enjoy this milestone adventure on our iOS devices, and enjoy is being quite conservative.  I’d say this is probably one of the best electronic gamebook adventures yet.

You’re an innocent bystander trapped in a cell in some sort of compound where a mad doctor is turning people into zombies for some nefarious purpose.  You can’t get much more cliché then that, but you also can’t help loving every moment of it.  You’ll constantly have to decide between opening that suspicious door – they don’t really mean “keep out”, do they? – or travelling further down a darkened hallway that could lead to even greater doom.  You’ll collect a variety of items from useful weapons to a tape measure, and even find some money along the way that you can spend.  Not only does this have the most extensive inventory that I’ve seen in such a game, but I believe it’s the first one to have a store of sorts.  Ultimately, of course, you’ll get the chance to kill plenty of zombies, and if you’re lucky maybe even the good doctor himself.

The only stat you have in this game is stamina, which determines how many hits you can take before you die.  Both your starting stamina and the number of bookmarks (save spots) you have available are determined by which difficulty level you choose.  Combat seems to be a simplified affair in this gamebook as well, as so far all adversaries have only required one point of damage to kill and most only do one point of damage in return.  Your die roll determines how many bad guys are killed, and then the remaining villains attack you to inflict damage until either you or they die.

In standard gamebook fashion you’ll get one or more pages of story followed by several choices, some of which may not be available if certain criteria aren’t met or you don’t have a particular object in your possession.  You never access your inventory directly for anything other than med kits, and it appears that the only way to switch weapons is if you run out of ammo with your current one or you find a better one.  Because of the many branching paths you can play the game several times with a different experience each play through, regardless of whether you ultimately win or lose.  There are many achievements to earn as well, and an interesting little read in the extras section on how the Final Fantasy series came to be in the first place.

This is a gamebook adventure, so a bulk of it is text and interface, but what a stylish interface it is.  The default settings are clear enough, but you can adjust the font size and style if you like.  Most sections have a little illustration on the last page, and certain sections are prefaced by a picture just like you’d find in the actual books.  As you stumble across each picture in the game you can then go view it in a gallery along with a black and white version of the illustration.  There is some nice and creepy music that plays in the background, and all actions, including things like “tossing” dice and “turning” pages are accompanied by the appropriate sound effects.

If you call yourself a gamebook adventure fan and you don’t have Blood of the Zombies, I’m hereby revoking your theoretical membership to the fan club.  If you’ve somehow never managed to delve into the Choose Your Own Adventure genre, this might just be the best place to start.  I haven’t gotten to the “good” ending yet, but I’ve certainly enjoyed all the time I’ve spent trying.  I can’t wait to see what both Tin Man Games and Ian Livingstone have in store for us next (there will be a next time, I presume).

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the ZombiesDeveloper: Tin Man Games
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:5.0
Price:$5.99App Size:
  • Excellent writing
  • Abundant inventory
  • Simple but satisfying combat
  • Wonderful interface
  • Lots of zombies
  • Not this time

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