Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom in Review – Much More Than Lions, Tigers and Bears Here

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If you’re familiar with me, at least when it comes to my reviews, you know that I’m a big fan of Tin Man Games and their Gamebook Adventures.  I remember this sort of thing when the books were actually printed and you had to use real dice for combat and pen and paper to keep track of your inventory.  There are clearly so many advantages to an electronic version of this form of entertainment, and to date Tin Man Games has one of the best interfaces available.  It doesn’t hurt any that their stories are generally quite interesting as well.  So far The Forest of Doom has been no exception to the rule, though I will say that as a whole this one seems much harder than any of the ones I’ve played in the past.  I guess that means I’ll just have to put more effort into beating it.

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If you’re not familiar with Gamebook Adventures, they are like Choose Your Own Adventure books in that you get to decide every few pages how you want the story to proceed.  However, they incorporate concepts like combat and an inventory to make the “book” more interactive.  Depending on the GA title you might have a varying set of statistics to work with that shape how well your character does at certain things, and in this case you have the three basic stats of skill (how well you fight), stamina (how well you take a beating) and luck.  At the beginning of each read through the gamebook you’ll roll for each of these stats and then add that roll to a predefined base value depending on which difficulty level you select.  You can go Hardcore Hero, which is how the original printed book was intended to be played, Adventurer which gives you better starting stats, and Free Play which basically lets you goof up and continue without any consequences.

Control is simply a matter of tapping the appropriate button to do what you want.  When there are multiple pages in a section you can swipe to switch between them.  If you tap in the center of the screen it will pull up the interface that allows you to do things like view your character sheet and check out a map of the forest (the parts you’ve already explored), as well as set and use bookmarks.  Bookmarks are unlimited, so don’t use them sparingly.  It would be nice if there was a way to clear out some bookmarks, though, as the lack of labeling makes it hard to decide where you want to go back to if you have more than two or three bookmarks saved.  The other thing that would be nice was if there were a quick way to reset the adventure if you so choose.  On the plus side you can change many options on the fly, including the size and style of the font and whether you want to use a “retro” look or not.

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Since this is supposed to simulate the printed gamebooks of old you won’t find a full blown illustration with every page, though the ones you do run across are quite nice.  What you will see, however, are sketches of things like swords and signposts, just enough to give you something to look at.  The interface is quite slick, and the ability to switch between “retro” and “modern” for the look of the pages is a nice touch.  There are also a couple of fonts you can choose if you’d like your print a bit fancier.  What really impresses me about The Forest Of Doom (and in general with most of the gamebooks) is the quality of the music.  They could easily have skimped on that part, but instead they give us a soundtrack that sounds more like it comes from a movie than a gamebook adventure.  In this case there are also some nice ambient noises to give you that “in the forest” feeling.

Not much to say here except that The Forest Of Doom holds up Tin Man Games’ tradition of turning out one high quality gamebook after another.  Aside from a string of bad reads, which I don’t foresee ever happening, I think the only way I’ll get sick of these offerings is if I decide I don’t want to read any more.  Sure there are times when I want to get down and dirty with some guns blazing dual stick action, but there’s no question in my mind that this type of game can be just as engaging and satisfying.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of DoomDeveloper: Tin Man Games
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:5.0
Price:$5.99App Size:
  • Interesting story with lots of decision points
  • Slick interface
  • Nice illustrations
  • Great music
  • Need a way to tell what each bookmark represents or to delete them

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