Thursday, 22 March 2012

Gamebook Adventures 8: Infinite Universe {Review}

While the iOS app store is brimming with a veritable mass of high-end, graphically advanced games that rival and even surpass the last generation of consoles, some of the best games are simple in their design and execution. The now famous Gamebook Adventures series by Tin Man Games falls into the latter category, with no motion graphics in sight, save dice rolls. Infinite Universe, the series' eighth outing, ends up being more gripping, interesting and playable than many of the triple-A titles on the store at the moment and it's one that will keep you coming back for more.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it does what it says on the tin. Each game plays as a standalone gamebook where you roll up your character at the beginning and begin your epic journey in a mysterious world. As can be expected, Infinite Universe borrows from Fighting Fantasy mechanically, such as replacing the luck mechanic with 'fitness', which is an attribute spent to increase die rolls, but combat is slightly more complex. The inclusion of skills for your character adds some more depth to the system and really allows you to tailor your character to your preferences. Whether you want to be a stealthy assassin type or a brash balls-to-the-walls thug then the game has you covered.

The real joy of Infinite Universe is the prose, which plays out a little differently from your average Fighting Fantasy book. While you're still presented with a plethora of choices, the game focuses on a heavy narrative style that grips the reader and pulls them headfirst into this sci-fi world. Without spoiling anything, the plot is very well written. Set in the 4th millennium, the story revolves around a rebel organisation called DWORF which is at war with the Mandellian Empire. You play a character who has been drafted from the past in order to embark on a deadly mission to take down DWORF's leader. The trouble is, you have no memory, so you'll be piecing together your identity as the winding plot unfolds. It's an awesome narrative by Brewin' and it's likely to keep you entertained up to the end.

The universe the writer has created is fantastic and very much reminiscent of worlds you would find between the pages of 2000AD. The game contains an encyclopaedia of all notable characters, planets, moons and other handy stuff as well as survival tips. There's also a cool star chart that annotates the expansive universe, making the book feel more like Mass Effect than Lone Wolf.

If you love RPGs, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything as compelling as Gamebook Adventures on the iOS and Infinite Universe proves that the series still has serious chops. With a great story, fun characters and a nice amount of character customisation, Infinite Universe is a sci-fi adventure you don't want to miss.