Fighting Fantasy Legends Portal

What...is your favourite quest? Fighting Fantasy Legends Portal review.




I am standing deep inside a dungeon facing a closed door. Behind the door I hear a muffled sound, a cry for help perhaps? Or a warning to stay out. What will I do , open the door or move on an never be the wiser what was behind that door. Maybe I would miss out on a good reward, but I would come out unscathed at least. In a moment of bravery and heroism I decide to open the door anyway.. rats!! off course it was a trap and I am now toe to toe with a vicious looking hellhound of sorts. It snarls as it comes as me. Time to fight.

What is it?

Fighting Fantasy Legends Portals is the second videogame adaptation by Nomad games  of the successful  Fighting Fantasy game books . The books were by British writers Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. Being co-founders of Games Workshop they sure has a taste for adventure and set out to create an adventure book that allows the readers to brave daring challenges without the need of a game master.

In Fighting Fantasy game books text does not progress in a linear fashion. Instead it is split into a series of sections. Starting at the beginning the reader quickly has to make choices, each choice bringing them to a different section of the book. The story continues in this fashion until their character is stopped by the story or killed in combat, or completes the story.

In most similar choose your own adventure style books it is often either a dead end or moving further in the story. Where Fighting Fantasy is different is the addition of game mechanics. For starters it features a system where the protagonist is randomly assigned scores in three statistics; Skill, Stamina, and Luck.
And the user will roll a six sided die to resolve challenges along the way , Making the adventure a bit more interactive.

With the first game adaptation released last year, Nomad games is back with Portals which is centred around one of the most successful books in the series "Death trap Dungeon". A baron names  Sukumvit has set a challenge to survive his deadly dungeon, the Labyrinth of Fang. Many have tried , no one succeeded. With the promise of wealth and fame , and nothing better to do you figure that it might be time for someone to complete the challenge.


The game comes with three adventures, Death trap, Trial of Champions and Armies of Death.
 
Gameplay

Just like the books, the fighting fantasy video game adaptation is built on a narrative of choice through out a point and click style adventure, but with a few added elements for the player to interact with.
First you choose one of three archetype characters; a rogue, paladin or chaos warrior.
You are then presented with a choice to add points to either skill or luck with a max of 12 points, but each point spend on either reduces your stamina level, which are basically your hit points. It is up to you how you want to balance out your character.


This is also the time to select the difficulty setting which is represented with how many lives you get to complete the adventure. To help you on your way you take on ONE special skill to assist you in your adventure, maybe you wont be affected by curses, or you are extraordinarily lucky, perhaps you are extra sturdy and lose less stamina when you are hit by traps.
Once you have made your choices the adventure begins and you are quickly introduced to the challenge ahead.

There is a small introduction into the world which helps with setting the tone of the game but before long you find your way in the dungeon. Here you navigate by selecting a direction and making choices what direction to go or what strange things to investigate, or ignore. Each choice has a consequence and can result in treasure, a trap, fight or other surprises.  It becomes a game of trial and error and because the game is always pushing forward backtracking is usually not possible. IF you make it to the end of the dungeon without enough needed items you will be warped back to the dungeon so you can check out the other paths. If you die along the way you lose a life but also get put back at the beginning , but you keep your progress and items you made along the way to make the path a little easier.

When facing a challenge, being a trap a fight or something else you usually resolve the issue by the rolling of dice. Remember the stats you picked at the beginning? Those stats represented how many dice you get to roll to pass your test. Need to climb a rope? Roll skill dice and make the set challenge or suffer damage, Trying to dive out of the way of a collapsing cave? Roll luck dice and each successful rolled die saves you from a losing more stamina. For each succeeded challenge you will gain experience points, get enough points and the game asks you to pick to upgrade one of your skill or luck die. Once you do that die will now have another side marked with a positive result , increasing your chances.

So how are these challenges determined? Some are predetermined along the path. For instance a monster behind a door, or a pit to climb down , a trap set along your path. Others come from entering a zone marked by a question mark after which a card gets pulled from a deck of cards adding some more randomness to the result. Sometimes instead of a trap or monster the card reveals treasure , be it gold, armour or healing potions which go in your inventory to use when needed. The game does a good job showing you when you can use it, but it is up to you if you rather wait until later and push your luck some more.

But not all challenges involve a dice roll, sometimes you get to solve a murder or riddle as well with a reward bound to answering correctly. As you take on each challenge you keep pushing through the dungeon until you have all the items to face the final challenge and escape victorious or until you run out of lives.

Presentation

The world building in the fighting fantasy series translates well to the digital screen. With text split in meal piece paragraphs on screen you get all the information you need and it helps build a narrative for the game, even if it is a bit light compared to a dedicated novel. The addition of a top down view of your character moving through the world and the addition of background music and sound effects help build the atmosphere even further. You get curious what is behind the next turn and get encouraged to move forward. The presentation of the battle is done with rolling of dice on screen, which gives an organic feel to the game.


Due to the nature of its source material the game can feel too much left to chance and for a good portion you could almost keep playing on auto mode like hammering the spin button on a slot machine and probably make it pretty far through the game. On the flipside of that , it can be frustrating to carefully manage your items and plan ahead only to be foiled by a trap that is undefeatable or lose all your stamina thanks to a series of unlucky rolls. To those who ever played  table top RPG's this should probably sound familiar though. It is easy to just choose to click quickly through it all but it is more fun to get truly involved, read all the clues and flavour text and fill your mind with wonder. 
Being that this is a videogame and not a book I had hoped for a little bit more creative decisions in the making of the game and offer perhaps more customisations, control over moving your character other then just clicking on an icon with perhaps the ability to backtrack a little. But that is just a personal preference. As it stands fighting fantasy legends portal is a very faithful recreation of the books.



Parent Recommendation
 Fighting fantasy legends portal (man that is a mouthful) includes violence, substance abuse and death. However non of these are presented in a gory manner and there is no foul language to worry about. It is fantasy adventure in which these themes all make sense. If your catch watch never ending story or the older Disney movies then they will be fine with this game. The skill level to play this game is low, but it is probably more entertaining if you child can read. Especially when it comes to solving written clues. IT can be a good first step in introducing fantasy gaming and RPG's new players.

Overall Recommendation
Despite the lack of control and high dependencies on random chance, fighting fantasy legends portal delivers a fun overall experience. This is not a full blown RPG, but a faithful conversion of the fighting fantasy books. It is light, fun and an easy to pickup and play even for a less experienced gamer.
If you are unsure you want to spend the full price on steam you can always try the app-store version instead for half the price.

Game Information:
Title: Fighting Fantasy Legends Portal
Developer: Nomad Games 
Publisher: Asmodee Digital
Release date: July 12 , 2018
Platforms:  PC STEAM ($9.99) , Apple and Android Appstore. ($4.99)
Version reviewed: STEAM (review demo)
Official Site:  http://www.asmodee-digital.com/en/fighting-fantasy-legends-portal/

                      

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