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Vampire Hunt

Series: Twisted Journeys #7
Author: Jolley, Dan
Illustrators: Titus, Gregory
Hi-Fi Design (colors)
Dillon, Marshall (lettering)
Release Date: September, 2008
ISBNs: 0822588773 / 9780822588771 (library binding)
082258879X / 9780822588795 (paperback)
Length:111 pages
Number of Endings:32
User Summary: You are a vampire living alone in a deserted castle, and you must deal with a group of vampire hunters who have arrived at your door.
Guillermo's Thoughts: This is a gorgeous Choose your Own Adventure-type book. Its production values are quite high, with paper of excellent quality, pocket paperback format, lavish illustrations, and a combination of text and comic book panels which works quite effectively. Let's face it, this is an age of a predominantly visual culture and books have to reflect this trend. The effort of professional comic book artists Dan Jolley and Gregory Titus (who have worked for DC and Marvel, respectively) to bring interactive books to a new generation of young readers is to be praised. Paths of Doom could have done something similar, but its presentation was quite unattractive, and in this age book marketing is all about presentation.

Besides the artwork, the text is entertainingly written, and its comical and thoughtful reflections on what life as a vampire in the Twenty-First Century is like will certainly resonate with youngsters. In terms of game design, the book borrows more from the Choose Your Own Adventure tradition than from anything else. No path through the book is too long, meaning that if you're expecting a British style book with a single, long path to victory you'll be sorely disappointed. The author takes advantage of the multiple-path format to introduce a wide array of possibilities – indeed, the plot and the motivations of the secondary characters change wildly depending on the path chosen. There is too much talk on gamebooks.org about this being a bad design style, but I disagree ("internal consistency?" Jesus, are we talking about books or cakes?). While people more used to the British style will almost certainly be in disagreement, I don't think a gamebook with many different plotlines is necessarily worse than one where all the paths are structured around a single plotline, and I could cite many examples. The earlier case is just another way to take advantage of the branching path format. Gameplay is perhaps the less creative part of the book, since few of the choices seem really original or creative. However, I doubt kids who are just being introduced to pick-a-path books will mind much.

Saying that the book is innovative for letting the reader play a villain would be a lie, for two reasons. The first is that several series have done it before – One-On-One Adventure Gamebooks and Duel Master come to mind. The second and most important reason is that the reader portrays a humane and sympathetic vampire, which contributes to an interesting plot full of twist and turns.

I'm sure children will love this book, and I won't hesitate to recommend it as an introduction to gamebooks. However, it is perhaps opportune to say that this does not break any new ground in terms of exploring the possibilities of interactive literature. While the plot itself is innovative, the creative scope being explored does not go beyond what you could find in the average CYOA of the eighties. Conversely, gamebooks such as the Virtual Reality series, Life's Lottery by Kim Newman and the first Paths of Doom book have been more ambitious in searching for ways in which interactivity and text can be combined to create new forms of creative expression. The only way gamebooks will be able to avoid unfair comparisons to video games and to remain alive as a creative medium will be to explore new avenues through which hypertext will have something relevant to say to newer generations. Inundating the current market (even a very large market such as the USA) with titles all too similar in design to the earlier CYOA books will not raise the medium above the level of creative stagnation it is at today.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary and cover scans.
Users Who Own This Item: Demian, gruselkatze, knginatl (PB), Yalius
Users Who Want This Item: iguanaditty, Pseudo_Intellectual, zat

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