For me, adventure books are something that are part of my gaming deoxyribonucleic acid. Whether it be starting with the Fighting Fantasy range of books and their huge array of page flicking wonders, to chuckling with the off page comedy of the Grail Quest series to the Asterix and Obelix full dice and equipment joyousness. The action of making a choice and flicking to a page was always something that to me was a couple of hours well spent and it took me down the path of where I am today. It turns out for the last forty years, I’ve always been an adventurer and it’s always involved pressed and printed trees of various thickness.
This takes us on to the Lone Wolf series of games by Joe Dever, who for many was standing side by side with Steve Jackson when it came to creating a real a believable world. His passing left behind a body of work with a huge established world. When he passed away from cancer it was his final wish that his series of books be continued by his son Ben and look at bringing the existing books back into print. The first five books in the Lone Wolf series are now back in print with a further two being released later this year. So it made sense for me to revisit the series with my youngest to see what they thought of the The Caverns of Kalte. So with pencil sharpened, skills equipped and random number table ready, we took a journey out into the cold in order to bring the traitor Vonotar to JUSTICE!!!
For those who haven’t played a decision adventure before, the book is written in a series of numbered paragraphs that give a choice at the end of the paragraph. Sometimes it will involve a simple choice in terms of action you can take, other times it will ask if you have a particular item in your possession, or even offer you the choice of combat. Once you’ve decided you’ll then flick through and find the next paragraph and then continue on until you either succeed or until you die. It simple system that has successfully survived the test of time since I was only ten years old.
It gave an excuse to spend some time with my youngest and read through the book together making decisions and let’s be brutally honest here, fudge the ones that maybe didn’t always go our way? I defy anyone who hasn’t played one of these books and ended up at some point with three fingers in various parts of the book while you try to pick the best result for a particular tricky decision. It’s literally a rite of passage now and you’ve not really played unless you’ve had one minor papercut. It gives excuses to put on funny voices and watch you child’s face light up as you detail the grisly deaths of the the enemies you’ve dispatched. Or in my case tell them they got a swift kick up the erse. Everything is there to help either create a new fan of the genre or tickle the nostalgia taste buds for older players. The combat system is fairly clever, going above a simple random number generator to decide your fate and there are valid reason to keep an eye on your equipment as in most case it helps increase your chances of success in combat.
The art is leaning heavily on a line art nostalgia foundation, and with that comes art that is in both parts awful and wonderful. I’m glad they didn’t go for an art overhaul as I think that would take away from the whole experience. As you flick through the pages, there’s a lot of hooks to drag you back down memory lane.
At the end of the day, the book is £8, which means it fall under the price of one of those do it yourself escape room games and there’s an option to play it on several occasions in order to see if you can collect all of the items that you blatantly appeared to have missed out on during your first attempt. It’s a lovely trip down memory lane for a lot of us, a reminder when things were a whole lot simpler and all you could hear was the gentle swish of pages being rapidly turned in adventuring excitement. Worth a skim at the very least.
This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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