Demian's Gamebook Web Page

Item - The Forest of Doom

(Original Puffin edition)
(Puffin sawtooth logo edition)
(Puffin sawtooth logo edition)
(Puffin dragon logo edition)
(Original American edition)
(Wizard Books Series 1 edition)
(Scholastic reissue)
(Scholastic reissue)

Combined Summary

Series: Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin) — no. 3
Fighting Fantasy (2002-2007, Wizard Books Series 1) — no. 8
Fighting Fantasy (2009-2012, Wizard Books Series 2) — no. 13
Fighting Fantasy (2017-, Scholastic) — no. 4
Alternate Title: Forest of Doom
Contained In: Fighting Fantasy Box Set 2 (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Box Set 3 (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Gamebox (Collection)
Fighting Fantasy Gamebox 1 (Collection)
The Forest of Doom: Software Pack (Collection)
Translated Into: El bosque tenebroso (Spanish)
Chernoles'e [Чернолесье] (Russian)
De fördömdas skog (Swedish)
A floresta da destruição (Portuguese)
A Floresta da Destruição (Portuguese)
A floresta da morte (Portuguese)
La foresta maledetta (Italian)
La Forêt de la malédiction (French)
Der Forst der Finsternis (German)
Gorata na obrechenite [Гората на обречените] (Bulgarian)
Hammeren i Monsterskogen (Norwegian)
Hukatuse mets (Estonian)
Kauhujen metsä (Finnish)
Ondskabens skov (Danish)
Het onheilswoud (Dutch)
Prokletý hvozd (Czech)
Unmei no mori [運命の森] (Japanese)
A végzet erdeje (Hungarian)
Adapted Into: Forest of Doom (Role-Playing Material)
The Forest of Doom (Video Game)
The Forest of Doom (Digital Gamebook)
The Forest of Doom (Merchandise Item)
Author: Livingstone, Ian
Illustrators: Ball, Robert (Scholastic reissue - cover)
Corben, Richard (Original American edition - cover)
Krizan, Vlado (Scholastic reissue - interior)
McCaig, Iain (Original Puffin edition - cover, Puffin dragon logo edition - cover, Puffin sawtooth logo edition - cover)
McKenna, Martin (Wizard Books Series 1 edition - cover, Wizard Books Series 2 edition - cover, American reissue - cover)
Barter, Malcolm (Original Puffin edition - interior, Wizard Books Series 1 edition - interior, Wizard Books Series 2 edition - interior, Puffin dragon logo edition - interior, Puffin sawtooth logo edition - interior, Original American edition - interior, American reissue - interior)
Dates: March, 1983 (Original Puffin edition)
February, 1984 (Original American edition)
February, 2003 (Wizard Books Series 1 edition)
September, 2004 (American reissue)
September 7, 2017 (Scholastic reissue)
ISBNs: 0140316043 / 9780140316049 (Original Puffin edition, Puffin dragon logo edition, Puffin sawtooth logo edition)
0440926793 / 9780440926795 (Original American edition)
0743487036 / 9780743487030 (American reissue)
1407181289 / 9781407181288 (Scholastic reissue)
1840464291 / 9781840464290 (Wizard Books Series 1 edition)
Length: 400 sections
Number of Endings: 3 instant failures, 1 victory, plus death by Stamina loss or bad Luck.
User Summary: You encounter a dying dwarf and decide to finish the quest that he gave his life attempting to complete: to enter a dangerous, monster-filled forest in search of a precious hammer that the dwarfs of Stonebridge need to fight off the trolls that threaten their home.
Demian's Thoughts:

This book is really quite typical of the early fantasy-themed entries in the series -- it's relatively plotless, it features minimalistic writing that's extremely short on dialogue, and it doesn't do anything particularly unusual with the core rules. Really the only thing that distinguishes it from the past two adventures is the fact that it's set in an outdoor environment, which makes a nice change from the claustrophobic dungeons of its predecessors. Unfortunately, despite the mild novelty of its setting, the book isn't all that memorable. Apart from introducing Yaztromo and the dwarfs of Stonebridge, it doesn't contain much that I'd consider terribly imaginative. Of course, the less-than-thrilling story could be forgiven if it were supported by great gameplay. Alas, that's not really the case here...

The adventure is highly item-driven, which is something of a trademark of Ian Livingstone adventures; unfortunately, though, it's not done very well here. At the start of the adventure, you can purchase a wide variety of magic items, and this part of the game is roughly equivalent to picking spells in the previous adventure, though it's more tedious since you have to pay different amounts of money for different items. What I found really disappointing, though, was the way that these items are ultimately used. When you come to a place where you can use an item, you are asked if you have it. If you do, you use it successfully; if not, something bad happens (though rarely something fatal). This isn't very exciting -- I'd much rather be given a list of items to try and have to figure out which one works; that would be more suspenseful, and it would also offer the potential of multiple solutions to certain problems. As things stand, encounters are either boring or frustrating, with little middle ground.

Another major problem with the book is the way it loops back on itself. If you reach Stonebridge without both parts of the hammer, you have a chance of going back to section one, restocking with Yaztromo and starting all over again. I definitely like the possibility of a second chance (and third chance, and fourth chance...), and it's a nice way of balancing the fact that you have basically no hope at all of finding the hammer on your first try. Unfortunately, this leads to all manner of continuity problems, since the book doesn't even try to address the possibility that you've already slain monsters and taken treasures. This leaves the player wondering how to handle things the second time around, and it interferes with the realism of the book. The problem couldn't really have been fixed without greatly increasing the size of the book, but that doesn't change the fact that it detracts from the reader's experience.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh -- although this book isn't particularly exceptional, it's also far from being a disaster. It's a fun diversion, and it seems free from errors as long as you can suspend your disbelief about the whole looping thing. Its art isn't bad, either. In fact, compared to some of the unplayable, broken garbage I've encountered during my time as a gamebook collector, it shines like gold. Within the context of this series, though, it's average at best and rather seriously flawed at worst. It's not a classic, but it's worth playing if you're a completist (or have nothing better on hand).

More reviews by Demian

Kveto's Thoughts:

An early example of the series (and famous enough to have its own Wikipedia page), I owned this one as a wee lad.

A fairly standard forest type adventure, you search for two goblins who each have a section of an ancient Dwarven hammer. You can purchase magical items at a shop outside the forest (I always felt these magical 7-11's really cheapened the idea of magic in the fantasy settings, making it too commonplace).

There are two main paths through the forest. You will generally need at least two passes through the forest to succeed. The book is nothing special although the artwork is generally good. It has a few memorable encounters, such as a fight with a furry catwoman, a guy who has his foot caught in a bear trap (who steals from you if you help him) and a barbarian staked to the ground and left to die, who also attacks you if you free him. (One thing I like about Livingstone books is you often get punished for being kindhearted, which is counter to the morality in most early gamebooks).

Generally okay, nothing special here.

More reviews by Kveto

utfanatic's Thoughts:

A disappointing read. I had fonder memories of this book from childhood.

To best put it, this book is... tedious. You play a sword for hire, wandering the Northlands. You run into a dying dwarf who asks you to retrieve his village's hammer so they may fend off the trolls. The hammer is in the Forest of Doom. You set off, following his map, buy magic items from a wizard in a tower at the beginning of your quest, and are off into the woods. I made a map of my routes, found the items necessary eventually, but basically just quit the book. It was that boring for me.

There is very little characterization, encounters take place too quickly, writing is bland. The book basically consists of: picking myriad paths, fighting, finding an item, repeat. This is the most disappointing gamebook that I have read since I returned to reading gamebooks. Granted, that is partially due to my having fond memories of it, rather than having no memories of it. Eventually, I just put the book down. There is so little motivation for your character and you don't really feel a part of the world. To me, when a gamebook not only fails to excite you about discovering what will occur next, but induces you to quit reading, it is a poor one.

The book is incredibly basic. As well, not nearly enough logical choices are offered, and far too often, the author makes decisions for you to bypass possible routes. There are also often very dumb, illogical choices presented.

On the plus side, there are a few interesting encounters within the forest. Unfortunately, they last not nearly long enough, and are few and far between.

It is with regret that I cannot recommend this book unless you are brand new to the world of gamebooks. Perhaps then one might enjoy it.

Rating 1-10: 4

More reviews by utfanatic

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ben Nelson for the dragon logo British cover scan and to Ryan Lynch for the Scholastic cover images.
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Users with Extra Copies: badboybaggins
Falcon - missing one page
Ian2405 - 1 Original 'Star' Cover Edition & 1 `Green Banner' Edition Both U.K.
jr - Zig-Zag Cover
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Known Editions

American reissue
Original American edition
Original Puffin edition
Puffin dragon logo edition
Puffin sawtooth logo edition
Scholastic reissue
Wizard Books Series 1 edition
Wizard Books Series 2 edition

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