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Item - Diceman #3

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Series: Diceman — no. 3
Contents: You Are Rogue Trooper in Killothon (Mini-Adventure)
You Are the Diceman in Dark Powers (Mini-Adventure)
You Are Torquemada: Trapped in the Garden of Alien Delights (Mini-Adventure)
Author: Geller, Simon (editing)
Illustrators: Fabry, Glenn (cover)
Stead, Ian (editing)
Brighton, Kevin (assistance)
Date: June 7, 1986
Guillermo's Thoughts:

This issue of Diceman is marked by the intention of making the adventures more complex and involving than those in the first two issues. The approach the publishers use is to deliver some of the sections in each adventure in the form of text, rather than picture frames. Fortunately they don't overdo themselves in reducing the number of pictures, and the three adventures feel longer and more difficult, so their effort can be called a success.

The first adventure, titled You Are Rogue Trooper in Killothon, is a post-apocalyptic jungle mission which once again meets my expectations. Characterization, writing and artwork are all great. The adventure is challenging but not overly difficult; there are some choices which involve guesswork, but there are also many which require thinking and strategy. The combat system is the same used in the Slaine games, and one complaint may be that fights are rather easy. Another complaint I have is that the storyline may be difficult to grasp for people who don't read Rogue Trooper comics; a short introduction to the characters would have been welcome. Despite these flaws, the adventure was enjoyable enough.

The second adventure, titled You Are the Diceman in Dark Powers, is an horror adventure set in Nazi Germany, continuing the tale of Rick Fortune and his sidekick Killjoy. I found this adventure very atmospheric and visually exciting, but the choices involve far more guesswork than strategy (granted, there are clues, but they're always very cryptic and subtle). Some of the special powers the player can have are helpful from time to time in making the correct choice, but since they are determined randomly, this makes gameplay feel even less strategic. Another aspect I didn't like is that two of the powers seem to have exactly the same effects on the adventure, which is just a result of lazy design.

However, the adventure introduces an original idea: at one point, rather than being offered a choice beforehand, the text asks the player to think and write down what s/he would like to do, and in a later paragraph the player receives instructions of where to turn to depending on the alternative chosen before. This makes the experience like that of a roleplaying game, especially in an instance where it is expected that the character, and thus the player, will need to "think on their feet." This feature alone helped make gameplay more enjoyable.

The most interesting of the three adventures is the third one, titled You Are Torquemada: Trapped in the Garden of Alien Delights. This adventure, illustrated by Bryan Talbot, is indeed inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's famous painting: "The Garden of Earthly Delights." The entire adventure takes place in a virtual reality environment reminiscent of the painting, and while it retains the choice-making aspect of the gamebook format, it also provides a level of interaction like that of a "point-and-click" computer adventure, since the player is allowed to pick up any object that appears in the pictures (there's no text prompting the player to pick any specific object, so choosing the right ones demands alertness and thought). The plot is also of interest since the player takes the role of a fascist villain (something that was practically taboo in adventure gaming at the time this book came out). Moreover, since the story describes Torquemada's imprisonment by Nemesis the Warlock, I suppose it holds some interest for 2000 AD fans. Gameplay-wise, there are many ways to complete the adventure, but doing so is not easy, because some clues are misleading and also because the choice of items and courses of action again involves more guesswork than strategy. Nonetheless, I had a blast playing this adventure, both because visually it is very attractive and because it is harder and more complex than earlier Diceman games.

This is a more mature issue of Diceman than its predecessors, and despite the fact that the gameplay was not always to my taste, I recommend it for its innovative interactive features and overall entertainment value.

More reviews by Guillermo

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Diceman #3 Ad (part 1 of 3)
from Eagle comic, June 7, 1986. Thanks to Ed Jolley for the scan.

Diceman #3 Ad (part 2 of 2)
from Eagle comic, June 7, 1986. Thanks to Ed Jolley for the scan.

Diceman #3 Ad (part 3 of 3)
from Eagle comic, June 7, 1986. Thanks to Ed Jolley for the scan.