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Item - L'épreuve des fabulins

Series: Hocus & Pocus — no. 1
Translated Into: The Legend of Grimm's Woods (English)
Author: Manuro (pseudonym used by Quaireau, Emmanuel)
Illustrator: Gorobei (pseudonym used by Martin, Emmanuel)
Date: 2016
ISBN: 2917371722 / 9782917371725
Length: 295 sections, plus introduction
Number of Endings: 1
User Summary: Two children have disappeared in a mysterious forest, and their parents approach you for help finding them.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

(Review based on the English translation.)

This interactive comic is one of many originally created for Makaka Editions (several of these comics have been published in English by different companies, including IDW Publishing and Van Ryder Games). It therefore shares several stylistic similarities with those books. As in Zombie!: The Adventure is Yours!, the visual format is used to its full potential, with the reader often having to look in the panels for hidden items or information. This is better than some other interactive comic books - such as Diceman -, which often do not take advantage of the pictures in order to enhance the interactive experience.

The setting is basically Pokemon meets fairy-tale fantasy. At the beginning you get to choose whether to play a male or female character, and one of three creatures (each with a special power) to accompany you on the quest. There is a character sheet and a rudimentary game system (you only have to keep track of food for your creature, other inventory, and stars, which are basically the game's scoring system). Dice are required but are only used for a couple of mini-games as well as for computing the final to-beat score. Since the quest is split up among the two title characters, the book is actually two separate adventures, which adds considerable replay value. Being aimed at eight-year-olds, the game is designed on purpose so that there is no way to fail. Achieving an outstanding score, however, is more challenging. The authors clearly read and loved gamebooks as children, and there is quite a bit of good craft on display (more than is to be found, for example, in The Forgotten Spell by Louisa Dent, which is directed at a similar audience). Overall, this is a good way to introduce a member of the target age group to interactive literature (and also good filler for an adult who is not in the mood for something too challenging). Recommended.

A complaint: there is a panel where you are supposed to find a hidden number, but as far as I can tell, the number is nowhere to be found. This isn't the first time this has happened to me with one of these French interactive comic books, so I doubt this specific English edition is the problem. The books need better proofreading and testing to be entirely playable.

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