Monday, 4 April 2011

Destiny Quest is a paper MMO


Gamebooks are making a resurgence into semi-popular culture. First came the new Fighting Fantasy books, including some fresh titles likes Stormslayer and Night of the Necromancer, then Lone Wolf once again dropped onto our gaming shelves, albeit in drawn out stages. Most recently we've seen the re-release of Fabled Lands, the series that raised the bar in what can be done in gamebooks. Now there's a new contender and its name is Destiny Quest: The Legion of Shadow.

Destiny Quest doesn't beat around the bush in flaunting its inspiration. The aim is to complete quests, beat bosses and acquire phat lewt along the way. Yes, Destiny Quest is an MMO in book form. OK, it can't really be massively-multiplayer but author Michael J Ward has clearly loaded the book with popular MMO tropes. The end result is a mash-up of Fighting Fantasy and Fabled Lands. While there is an overaching plot, the player still has the freedom to choose which quest they want to do next and when they want to go back and visit town. It's more restricted that Fabled Lands, where you can anywhere you like, but its much more free-roaming that Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf.

To find quests, the players uses the three colour maps at the front of the book, which are each split into acts (1, 2 and 3). Each quest is colour-coded to signify difficulty and the aim is to work your way from green to red quests and finally defeat the boss at the end of the act. You can then move into the next map and 'act'.

Characters begin as lowly adventurers, but are eventially able to choose a path, such as warrior, rogue or mage, which the player must stick with, but later they can choose a career, like assassin, ranger or pyromancer, which can be swapped around. The entire aim of the game is to have an incredible endgame build with the best weapons, armour and trinkets that boost abilities. Because of the vast amount of customisation in the book you'll in theory never end up with the same character twice.

Combat is really simple, rolling first on yours and your enemy's speed value to see who hits and then rolling on brawn or magic (whichever's highest) to see how much damage is done. Like in an MMO, there are slots on your body for armour and weapons, including feet, helmet, hands, chest, and each hand, as well as room for two rings and a necklace. Each weapon or armour will boost a certain ability and ofen give the character some kind of special ability that can be used once per combat. Endgame characters will have different abilities in all slots, making them ridiculously powerful. There are even rules for PVP - battling your mates.

Destiny Quest is a fresh take on gamebooks that wants to draw in a new generation of nerds. While Fighting Fantasy wanted to emulate playing Dungeons and Dragons, Destiny Quest seeks to copy MMOs like World of Warcraft in its gamestyle. Watching your character grow from a puny guy with +1 brawn to a ranger with massive dps or a tank who can take the wallops is really rewarding and I highly recommend this book.