By now we're used to a nice consistent flow of digital gamebooks from leaders-of-the-pack Tin Man Games, and it's with much anticipation many fans have waited for The Forest of Doom, a title that definitely has 'interesting' written all over it. Players of the book back in the day may remember this as 'that one that's a forest instead of a dungeon', which was a concerted effort by Ian Livingstone to bring the story out of the dank underbelly of Titan and into the arboreal nightmare above.
Not only that, but The Forest of Doom was noteworthy because the player was given a blank map at the beginning and was forced to play cartographer, adding locations as they trudged around, making copious notes about each trap, trick and triumph along the way. This feature has been ported expertly to the digital version, where the computer leaves almost cryptic symbols along the way as you discover things rather than whacking great reams of notation.
Other than the map, you're in for a standard Fighting Fantasy affair, which is a great thing. You're a weary traveller in the wilds, munching down on your last kill, when a dwarf falls in front of you, dying. He tells you that the peaceful village of Stonebridge is in peril as the warhammer that once protected it has been stolen and broken into two pieces, both hidden away by the goblin hordes in Darkwood Forest. Yes, it's up to YOU to mosey on into that leafy labyrinth and kick some goblin arse. You are told to seek out
Yaztromo is a pretty famous face in the Fighting Fantasy series and he's got a sweet tower chock full of awesome magic deelies. He's like Q from James Bond but with a beard and who likely smells of urine. Wizard urine! You get to choose from a wide range of items, some that are key to helping you complete the game and others that will aid you in certain circumstances. It will take you a few playthroughs to get the right combination, but fortunately with unlockable achievements you'll want to buy everything just to see what it does.
The Forest of Doom is crammed to the walls with great and memorable encounters, including the notorious shapeshifter you see on the homescreen (and the original book cover). There is one true way to complete the game and, as I say, you will likely have to keep on repeating it until you manage to crack the process. Fortunately if you get to the end of the book and you haven't collected both pieces of the hammer, you have chance to mulligan and start over with the same stats you rolled up at the beginning, only without all your items.
Speaking of stats, it's the same deal as in any Fighting Fantasy game. You've got your Stamina, Skill and Luck and you roll two six-sided dice in combat and for checks. All super simple, really, but if it ain't broke then shoot that goddamn mechanic, eh?
Presentation-wise, TFoD is pretty beautiful. From the gorgeous opening movie showcasing some of the amazing artwork you find inside and some lovely music, to the leafy design of the pages, this is probably the nicest looking Tin Man game so far.
I really don't have any complaints and I think this is my favourite Fighting Fantasy app so far. Rewards like achievements and unlockable artowork allow for tonnes of replayability, as does the craving to complete the entire map. It won't take you too long to figure out how to beat the game, but the added incentives to keep playing and experience every encounter makes this a great diversion.
So, Tin Man Games has done it again. I highly recommend downloading The Forest of Doom for Google play or iOS. Go on down to the woods today, especially if you fancy being eviscerated.
Disclaimer: This games was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review