Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon [rating: 3/5]
As a child I was an avid reader. The “choose your adventure” stories were always one genre I enjoyed immensely. Those were the stories that were not meant to be read linearly but that jumped around the book depending on the decisions you made in the story. In many ways, they were the precursor to today’s non-linear video games. Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon from Big Blue Bubble is a translation of this genre to the iPhone. First popularized in the early 1980s, the Fighting Fantasy series of books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone now finds itself in the digital age.
Deathtrap Dungeon is not a video game in the literal sense of the phrase. There is no actual live action. Instead, it is a direct port of the original format. In it, you follow the adventure of your character by reading the story and making decisions about progress at the end of each section. The adventure jumps around the book until you either end the story successfully or your character meets an untimely fate. The wrinkle in the Fighting Fantasy series of books is this: at the beginning of the story you rolled two six-sided dice (provided by the game) to roll the three character attribute values of Skill, Stamina, and Luck. These attribute are then used throughout the story to help determine the outcome. These attributes are sometimes used like hit points, lost or gained based on encounters and in other instances they’re used as a way to resolve combat and other encounters. Players also carry an inventory of items they can use along the way. Players move through a story by reading a section and making the required selection at the end by pressing the indicated button. The story moves to that section and continues. Along the way, they may have to use their attributes to resolve a situation or select an item from their inventory. Inventory items are selected from the menu accessed by tapping a page.
This game certainly has its merits and was a fun bit of nostalgia for me. It did however become very repetitive for me very quickly. The story was well written and interesting to read but Deathtrap Dungeon certainly isn’t what I’ve come to expect from iPhone games. If I’m going to read a book I’d much rather sit down and read a book from cover to cover then in this format. Similarly, if I’m going to play a video game I’m going to sit down and play a video game. I commend the authors and publishers for bringing this format to the iPhone but it just isn’t for everyone. I can see Deathtrap Dungeon appealing to adolescents and adults looking for a nostalgic trip back to their youth. I would certainly have no qualms about handing this story to an 11 or 12 year old who enjoys reading to entertain them on a trip although I don’t know if it could hold the attention of someone in their teens. For someone my age, it was certainly entertaining but not what I’m looking for in a game.
Fighting Fantasy: Deathtrap Dungeon is an innovative format but ultimately a direct port of an older genre. It doesn’t take advantage of the unique features of the iPhone platform nor do I believe it has the universal appeal of most successful iPhone games. If you need to entertain your tween on a trip, this might be worth picking up. Otherwise, you might want to find your adventure somewhere else.
- Unique format
- Well written adventure
The Not So Good:
- Neither book or game
- Lacks universal appeal
- Direct copy of original book that does not take advantage of iPhone platform features
Reviewed By: Erin Peterson