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Item - Heart of Ice

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(Virtual Reality edition)
(Panurgic Adventures edition)
(Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing)
(Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing)

Combined Summary

Series: Critical IF — no. 1
Panurgic Adventures — no. 1
Virtual Reality — no. 1
Virtual Reality — no. 5
Translated Into: Coeur de Glace (French)
Cuore di ghiaccio (Italian)
Author: Morris, Dave
Illustrators: Brunet, S├ębastien (Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing - cover and interior)
Deaconescu, Constantin (Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing - map)
Hodgson, Jon (Critical IF edition - cover)
Mason, Paul (Panurgic Adventures edition - cover)
Nicholson, Russ (interior)
Posen, Mike (Virtual Reality edition - cover)
Dates: 1994 (Virtual Reality edition)
2000 (Panurgic Adventures edition)
2015 (Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing)
ISBN: 9791093943077 (Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing)
Publisher: Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing: Megara Entertainment -- France
Length: 453 sections
Special Thanks: Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing:
Thank you to Ian Berger for the cover images.
Falcon's Thoughts:

Overall this is a great book, even though it is a bit challenging. Unlike most other books where you record things, this book is NOT random. No dice needed.

You can choose fom several different characters to play, each one suited to a different style of play.

Set in the futre, the world has frozen over into a second ice age. The reason for the ice age is a computer virus in Gaia, the artificial weather control system. Earth's knowledge of its past is limited.

One night, you see a news report about something called The Heart of Volent, a meteorite formed in the big-bang. Whoever touches the Heart will possess the power of a god. Along the way you must find out as much as possible about this stone, and when you get to the Lost City of Du-En, where the heart is, you must fight others for the ultimate power. Though your mission is quite different if you discover the truth about the Heart.

Gameplay is easy to get used to, though making some choices can easily get you killed if your character is ill-suited to the situation. (Interesting to note that not all characters are skilled fighters, those that are are either good with guns or at close combat, no character can use a gun and know martial arts!) The codeword system is interesting, if you acquire a companion (like Gigamesh the butt-kicking robot) or information you will be told to record a codeword, these codewords CAN be useful later on, but NOT ALWAYS!

You are limited to carrying eight possessions, though you may find items that do not count as possessions. This is usually becase it is a vehicle. (only an idiot tries to put a Manta Sky-Car in a backpack.

A good book, with lots of action, well worth a read.

More reviews by Falcon

hadlee73's Thoughts:

Heart of Ice is an interactive fiction gamebook and part of a (non-connected) series by Dave Morris called Critical IF. The setting for the book is Earth in the 24th Century which is in the grip of an ice age. A special computer satellite array which was created to help combat the effects of global warning has instead lost its nut, leaving humankind at the mercy of the increasingly-aggressive elements. Unexpectedly, however, the satellite array then sends a message out on a public broadcast telling of a meteorite which, if found and claimed, has the power to reshape the universe. You play the part of one of the adventurers or treasure hunters responding to this broadcast, hoping to claim the power for yourself!

The story is well-written, which is to be expected of a writer the calibre of Dave Morris, and builds upon the lore and background of this fictional version of Earth with what limited space is afforded in the less than 460 reading sections. Expect to feel a cram of information at first, as you need to learn much of what has led the planet to this point to understand the ramifications of what you are trying to accomplish. You will take part in a veritable road trip across a stretch of landscape which includes the frozen Sahara as well as Giza, and along the way you may encounter several characters whom you will meet (and potentially clash with) closer to your goal. I found the gathering of these characters near the end of the story to be the most interesting part of the book, and believe an entire story in itself could have been written about the group and its tentative allegiances. Note that the book doesn't always feel as post-apocalyptic as it could have, as there are still several cities functioning and living their lives in a relatively normal state, and these populated areas make the world seem less desolate than what it is.

The game system (it is a gamebook after all) does not use dice rolls to resolve situations but it does require the reader to keep a record of their inventory, skills and some codewords which keep track of certain changing elements of the plot. Your character, available to choose from a preset group or you can make your own, has four skills at your disposal which will come into play during your adventures. These can range from such things as close combat, shooting, cybernetics and even extrasensory perception.

This is where I may have to level a couple of criticisms at the book, though they are mostly nitpicks of an otherwise entertaining and exciting adventure. Firstly, as you face various encounters through the book, you will be asked whether you have specific skills which you can then choose to employ to try and overcome those challenges. While this makes for good replayability for repeated readings, it does feel a bit like the board game Tales of the Arabian Nights, where skills are used to overcome difficulties. Both that game and this book suffer from auto-steering, in that they don't always let you feel like you are in control of your destiny, instead guiding you along a rail of predetermined outcomes based on the skills you picked when making your character. There are often times when you won't have a skill needed to get past something, and if you're unlucky this can lead to immediate death and end of that reading through no fault of your own. There are sometimes items that can save you if you don't have the required skill, but it will take several playthroughs before you know which of those are useful.

Secondly, due to the need to keep the book down to a certain size, the promise of tense and interesting interactions with some of the other characters you encounter near the end don't necessarily come to fruition because the final conflicts are wrapped up so quickly. It would have been nice to spend some more time with the psychic Baron, the shady Boche, the militaristic Gargan twins or the noble Singh. Also, your character ends up being fairly unlikable by the end, with only a slim chance to steer yourself to a much nobler course than simply killing everybody else to claim ultimate power.

Again, these are nitpicks and only detract slightly from what is otherwise a five star gamebook experience (especially if the criticisms above don't bother you) written by one of the masters of this classic genre. I really enjoyed Heart of Ice, and despite not always feeling in control of my character I still had fun replaying it to try out some of the other skills I didn't get to use during earlier attempts. I should note, too, for those who appreciate good gamebook art, that the illustrations here are drawn by the great Russ Nicholson of Fighting Fantasy fame. Seeing him draw something more akin to science fiction than his traditional fantasy setting was a breath of fresh air, and it is interesting to see his take on the various creatures and people met while reading the story.

I highly recommend Heart of Ice, a gamebook that deserves shelf space on any gamebook fan's shelf!

More reviews by hadlee73

Zman's Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite gamebooks, right up there with the Fabled Lands series. The dying earth setting is very unique, and meshes well with the gameplay. What I found most memorable was the open-ended use of vehicles, something I haven't seen in any other gamebook so far. I don't know if the other books in the series are as good, but after reading this one, I'll have to check them out!

More reviews by Zman

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Known Editions

Virtual Reality edition
Panurgic Adventures edition
Critical IF edition
Megara Entertainment Collector's Edition, 2nd printing

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