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Curse of the Assassin

Series: Gamebook Adventures #8
Platforms: Android
iPod/iPad
Windows
Adapted Into: Curse of the Assassin (Gamebook)
Author: Osborne, Simon
Composer/Musician: Watkins, Adrian
Illustrators: Harvala, Pirkka
Maxwell, Dan
Back Cover Text: You’ve risen through society after dealing with Eltane and saving the city, capturing the affections of the Duke’s daughter along the way. The mysterious death of a friend arouses your suspicions and once again you find yourself at the heart of conspiracy that takes you back to your home village and a meeting with your old adventuring party from your youth.
Malthus Dire's Thoughts: A direct sequel to GA number 1 (An Assassin in Orlandes) this is a far larger and much more impressively ambitious affair than any of the GA apps that preceded it in the "Orlandes" cycle. However, this is nonetheless a mixed bag and may not be to everyone's tastes. Whilst there are multiple paths through, giving great scope for re-playability and offering the option of numerous companions and encounters on each playing (and each companion directly affects the ease or difficulty of the adventure), the sheer wordiness and length of many of the sections (in excess of 10 pages in some cases) makes this often feel more like a conventional story book than an adventure, plus the actual number of choices is disproportionate to the amount of text and a number of sections just lead to further sections of prose. Indeed, what would normally be decision points in most gamebooks are often made for you and some moments of potential failure are given to you as on-the-plate successes just to keep the text going on further. Similarly, there is an unnecessary amount of obscure vocabulary used that seems both distracting (as you reach for a dictionary which detracts from the play) and actually quite pretentious on the author's part. Likewise, much of the text is given over to musings about the socio-political situation in Orlandes (it's nice to get context, but not when it affects gameplay) and far too much emphasis is put on schmaltzy human interest between you and your parents/fiancee and an awkward love interest subplot with one particular companion. That said, there is a lot of imagination and variety here as it moves through urban, exterior (sea/plain/forest) and dungeon environments and the baddies are suitably unpleasant. A big plus is the folkloric aspect of many of the encounters and there is certainly a uniqueness to it all with rich detail and well-considered three-dimensional foes. Another neat touch is the amount of linking material to previous GA adventures which nicely draws the series together coherently (although I gather most of this was added by Tin Man in post-production!) This is a demanding gamebook due to the amount of text and complex language/concepts and some may get fed up with it, but it does re-pay close reading and the various options and lack of one true path do make it worth the money. You probably need to be in the right mood for it to avoid getting bogged-down and bored as this is a long slog (this is no 90-minute smash-and-grab gamebook), but this offers something a lot of other gamebooks do not in its sheer breadth alone and it has a truly epic feel to it. Far from perfect, and sluggishly paced due to the lengthy paragraphs, but this is still a worthy achievement that some consider to be the best GA app gamebook of the series. Curiously, for all its length and complexity, rather like its predecessor (GA1) this is actually surpisingly easy to complete, but the sheer amount of original material to discover in each replay more than makes up for this.

More reviews by Malthus Dire

Users Who Own This Item: Malthus Dire, mir1812

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