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Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Gamebook Adventures: Catacombs of the Undercity (iPad)

Gamebook Adventures: Catacombs of the Undercity (book #5 in the series), like its sequel, is a superb attempt to revitalise the gamebook genre of RPGs in a way that takes advantage of the Apple iPad’s capabilities.

Uh oh. Evil crab

I won’t go into specifics about why it’s such a high quality production – in terms of presentation it’s almost exactly the same as the sequel, The Wizard from Tarnath Tor, with just a slightly different colour hue used to create a slightly different atmosphere, and slightly different music, but it’s the same kind of ambient dark intensity.

What makes this gamebook if anything better than Tarnath Tor is the story itself. Within the first passage of the book your character finds himself thrown down a deep, dark well, with no equipment. The goal? To survive and escape. This means the book is a classic dungeon crawl in its truest form, which is incidently a perfect fit for the form.

It's hard taking on monsters with no armour or weapons

As usual for the genre, Catacombs of the Undercity is a difficult game, but developers Tin Man Studios has wisely included some different difficulty options for the more casual players. There’s some Game Center incentive to see every page in the book – there’s a huge number of achievements that are unlocked for seeing specific pages or achieving specific goals.

Given the quality of the story, this is the one of the best gamebooks I’ve ever played. Though I recommend you pick up as many of Tin Man Studios’ products as possible if you’re into this kind of thing, Catacombs of the Undercity is probably the easiest to recommend if you’re only interested in getting one game.

(It's worth noting that although the books all take place in the same world, they're largely independent stories. You can play one without needing to have played any others).

Review: Gamebook Adventures: Catacombs of the Undercity (iPad)
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