Not accepting rides to remote locations from complete strangers is usually a great idea, an idea that you didn’t have, which is why you now have to fight for your life in Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies. Written by Fighting Fantasy co-creator Ian Livingstone in celebration of the series 30th anniversary, the gamebook has been released on digital devices by Tin Man Games, just in time for Halloween.
As with many gamebooks, the story introduction resulted in a raised eyebrow. But if you embrace it for what it is and don’t take yourself too seriously, you can appreciate the style and how well-written it turns out to be. In fact, after a few pages, you really get sucked in.
Like any self-respecting villain, Gingrich Yurr is attempting to take over the world. His methods may seem a bit flawed, experimenting on humans to create a zombie army, but I suppose ruling over the dead is better than not ruling at all. Imprisoned within his remote castle in Romania, you are one of the unfortunates awaiting your turn to be zombified. It is there that you’re faced with your first choices on how to proceed.
Going forth is not as simple as you’d think and zombies aren’t the only things lurking inside the castle. It’s a good idea to try to find a weapon or two as soon as possible because you actually do have to engage in fights. Blood of the Zombies features an automated Adventure Sheet for player stats and inventory, which is handy. The outcome of these battles is usually determined by your stamina, your weapon choice, and the roll of one or two physics-based 3D dice. If you run out of stamina you die and while you might find a med kit here and there, it does take a certain amount of careful thought and consideration to progress in this game. Poor decisions will result in an untimely death, regardless of stamina.
Speaking of death, there are more than 80 gruesome ways to die in Blood of the Zombies. While each unfortunate end is quite amusing, it really demonstrates how challenging this gamebook adventure can be. Before starting, you have the choice of Hardcore, Medium, or Free read mode, making the book accessible and enjoyable for both gamebook newcomers and veterans. While experiencing the many deaths are like an accomplishment in itself, there are also a diverse number of actual achievements to be unlocked.
In terms of audio and visuals, the cover is animated and there are full color illustrations throughout the gamebook. An art gallery, which is accessible from the menu, displays all of your uncovered illustrations. Collecting four pieces of torn art canvas also unlocks an alternate gamebook cover. Additionally, the story is accompanied by music and sound effects. The art and the soundtrack really compliment the gritty atmosphere presented within the story. My only slight is that after playing for as long as I did, the music became a bit tiresome and I opted for turning it off.
Between Tin Man Games and Ian Livingstone, Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies brings digital gamebooks to a whole new level. With the automated game system, the newly colored illustrations, and the additional music and sound effects, this is one gamebook you need to immerse yourself in. This debut of Fighting Fantasy onto digital devices has the gamebook future looking bright.
Review copy supplied
Tested on iOS