May 26, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure

Lasting First Impressions of Gamebook Adventures from Tin Man Games

GA6_iPhone_02Among of my very favourite books to read as a child were the wonderful adventures found in the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books.  Perhaps these are what molded my future love interactive gaming and made me the gamer I am today; feeling like I was in control of the ultimate outcome of the story I was reading was so fascinating to me and I would read them over and over again.  With the advent of digital books becoming more popular, Tin Man Games decided it was time to bring back the old interactive fiction stories, but update them truly to the digital frontier.

Two years ago, the first Gamebook Adventures were introduced to the iOS platform, and recently Tin Man Games released the sixth book in their series (The Wizard from Tarnath Tor) of truly immersive story books.  Taking the Choose Your Own Adventure books to the next level, Gamebook Adventures combine the excitement of a fantasy story with a Dungeons & Dragons style roleplaying adventure game.  Not only are you, the reader, in control of the outcome of the story, you also create your own character at the start of the story, complete with Fitness (agility) and Vitality (health).  Your character’s Offensive and Defensive values depend on the weapon and armour you find throughout the story and directly dictate the number of dice used for attack and defence rolls during battles.  Yes, that’s right, you will actually battle enemies during the course of the story.  How you do in each battle will determine the outcome of the story at that point.


When the story dictates that you must fight an enemy or roll a fitness roll (to determine if you successfully perform a particular action) simulated dice will roll on the screen and these values determine the outcome of your attack or defense.  Tin Man Games has created a wonderfully accurate dice simulation to accompany your rolls.  At first, it is actually fun to watch the dice bounce around the screen realistically, but after a while, I found myself turning off the dice animation simply to speed up the story and get back to the place I wanted.

I have not read all 6 of the books yet, but I found myself spending quite a bit of time in each book simply trying to find the ‘ultimate’ ending to the book.  These books are well written and very engaging fantasy adventures.  Each story is a stand-alone adventure but all take place in the same world established in the first of the series, An Assassin in Orlandes.  Reading through this story, I found myself not wanting to stop reading and each time I died in the story, I would immediately start again or go back to a placed bookmark (of which there is a limited supply for each read through) and attempt the story again, often time choosing a different path to see where that would take me.


These stories are so engaging, I found myself seriously pondering the consequences of my choice when presented with one; do I wait in cover and see how the scene before me pans out or do I rush in and try to save the day? Once a choice has been made, there is no turning back and each choice brings different and distinct consequences.  One choice may uncover information or an item that will help you later in the story, while the other choice may reveal a new piece of equipment or weapon that will help you stay alive longer.  After reading the story several times, I began to piece together what the ultimate line should be to maximize both information, armour, weapons, and items.

I only have one suggestion that I think would make the story move along smoother.  There are “choices” presented to you after a battle (“if you defeat the opponent, go to page.”, “if you do not, turn to page.”), and since there can only be one outcome to this, it would be nice if the book just automatically took the reader to that section as soon as the battle is over.  In essence, when there is only one possible choice, don’t give the user the choice, just go there immediately and continue the story along.  This is such a small issue and certainly does not distract from the enjoyment of these books and the adventures lived through them.

If you enjoy the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, love reading and/or playing games such as the table top version of Dungeons and Dragons, you will really enjoy reading through the several Gamebook Adventures available.

Tin Man Games, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.  You’ve truly brought back a lost love for me and I am enjoying every page of it!

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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