Did you feel like Tin Man Games’s familiar format of interactive storytelling was feeling a little too, well, familiar? I didn’t (being a big fan of Fighting Fantasy et al), but I can see why others may have felt differently. If you happened to be one of those people, you’re going to be really happy with what they’ve concocted with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. It’s a significant departure from their previous formula, providing a more tabletop style gaming experience.
It’s rather special.
For those who’ve played the original book version of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain to death, things will seem both familiar and completely different. This time around you’re still tasked with similar choices and decisions, but they’re displayed in a completely different way than before. Taking a more stylish approach, you get to actually see what you’re exploring. Via an isometric perspective, you see the bold steps you make. At least sort of. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is fairly dark looking in that respect, but you still get a sense of the foreboding atmosphere here.
The choices you’re able to make are scattered around the screen in a logical fashion, along with the text to describe what’s happening. Refreshingly, there’s a choice of traditional dungeon-esque text or a dyslexic friendly font that’s a bit clearer to see. It’s all a pleasant change from the usual format of Fighting Fantasy games on your phone.
A bigger surprise and change of pace is combat. Combat is still ultimately assisted by how high your skill and stamina stats are, but it’s also a lot more interactive. When embroiled in a fight, you’re whisked to a different screen where you can directly move around to initiate combat.
This is still a turn-based affair, but the key here is being able to predict your opponent’s next move. It’s possible to choose to attack a square knowing that they are about to step in that direction. Such strategy works both ways, meaning you have to plan each move wisely to stand a chance. You also have different forms of attack at your disposal, giving you a few more options for how to approach any given scenario. It’s far more rewarding than conventional methods used in past releases.
Replaying The Warlock of Firetop Mountain means you’ll see certain moments repeated, but there’s a bit of a twist. By choosing a different hero, you’ll get a slightly different path. It’s not like playing an entirely new game, but it goes some way in giving you reasons to re-enjoy the experience. It also improves the chances of you paying up for a whole new bunch of heroes to try out, extending the game’s longevity.
That said, it’s going to take you a while to successfully complete this anyway, especially as The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was always one of the trickier Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.
Originally a PC/Mac game, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain could have been an awkward conversion. Instead, it transfers to the small screen pretty well. It’s a fine new take on a familiar format — one that’s sure to make you hope that there will be future Fighting Fantasy games done in this manner. Tin Man Games’ releases might have started to feel a little dated when compared to Inkle’s more recent Sorcery games, but The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a great example of how to bring their formula forward into the future.