In the same vein, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain seeks not only to retread the pages of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's classic gamebook, but create a satisfying Role-playing game worth replaying many times over. With its multiple narratives and straightforward combat, does this game feature enough depth to justify multiple replays, or does the same old story get too tired, too fast?
GameplayThe Warlock of Firetop Mountain (henceforth Firetop Mountain) is primarily a story-driven Role-playing game, where players progress through the dungeons beneath the titular mountain in order to achieve both a character-specific quest and defeat the mysterious warlock himself. Starting with a choice of one of four miniatures, players decide which character they wish to enter with and respond to a series of dialogue prompts as their character progresses through a series of interconnected rooms. Almost every one of the small, diorama-like rooms in Firetop Mountain contains some sort of event, and even then, those that don't seem to have anything going on may actually have quite a bit more backstory than it seems. Specific rooms in the dungeons and beyond have character-exclusive dialogue trees, oftentimes throwing a neat curveball that offers more challenge, or perhaps even a chance to understand the lore of the world in greater depth.
There is also the risk of failing text-based scenarios, which can result in reduced luck, skill, or most importantly, stamina, which can make Firetop Mountain feel frustrating. The frequent dice-checks are rather oddly determined by rolling low instead of high, so a moment of panic might cause a player to nudge their outcome into an unfavorable number. Some success states will only trigger with exceptionally high skill in certain areas, so attempting to explore the vast catacombs of the environment can feel like an uphill struggle. Each run does gift the player with three resurrection stones- essentially, respawn chances- that allow them to pick their route and choices a bit more carefully, so the game is not always so punishing. In reality, Firetop Mountain's game world is also not all that large, and considering each character starts in the same area, one or two failed attempts at reaching the end should be enough experience in order to understand and prepare for what lies ahead.
Replay ValueBecause the game world is small, the developers rely on the variety of characters in order to extend the game's playtime. While each of the character miniatures features their own model and combat skills, the true delight of Firetop Mountain are the variety of unique lines each character has for different scenarios. They also each possess a “main quest” that involves obtaining a certain item or objective while on the way towards fighting the Warlock, which can unlock codes for use upon completion in an alternate, combat-based mode- more on that later. Within each playthrough, the characters can also trigger unique events that specifically call upon their backstories and personalities, a neat touch that helps differentiate runs. Likewise, there are numerous branching paths that can increase or endanger one's chances at survival, so experimenting with each and determining which is the most beneficial route can be an enjoyable prospect. The ultimate goal is to find the three mysterious keys that can unlock the chest to the Warlock's true treasures, whatever route may take you there.
Should the story-centered version of Firetop Mountain become too tedious, there is the gauntlet mode, which strips away the narrative elements and focuses on surviving through multiple combat scenarios- only this time, players take on the role of an enemy type instead of a hero. Each of these enemies has their own skills and attacks that add even more personality and combat versatility to this game mode. The souls gained in the gauntlet can also be used on the story mode figurines, which is good, considering the game slowly increases their price as you move further from the basic picks.
Extra Content and ImpressionsBeing based on a successful game book series, Firetop Mountain does a bit more to honor the traditions of the property. There is a small and humble timeline and history feature for Fighting Fantasy, telling the story of the first game book's conception and featuring a number of developer Tin Man Games' video game contributions to the series. Oddly, the Nintendo DS Warlock of Firetop Mountain isn't present on that list, but it is nothing to get too worked up about (it's a good action RPG). Many of the scenarios in the story mode feature some striking and impressive illustrations. Fortunately, upon encountering these pictures, it is easy to view them once more in the game's gallery, so specific scenes and special events are never lost.
Great: Must Play.
Good: Worth your time.
OK: Some notable flaws.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Resident hype parasite and board game enthusiast. I'm a fiercely opinionated RPG fan, although I dabble in other genres. Raised on Nintendo devices, I have branched out somewhat with Sony and PC games, but I still love the variety and honest fun that each Nintendo console brings.
I am a huge Paper Mario (1 and 2), Xenoblade, SMT, Zelda, and Atooi fan. Oh, and I guess I like Metroid too.
Nintendo Switch Friend Code: 247544170414 / Twitter: @EeBeeArrPeeGees
September 25, 2018 11:50:54 AM
|I'm always interested to see story-driven, DnD-inspired RPG, and we seem to be getting quite a few on the Switch. Looking forward to picking this up eventually.
Thanks for the review!
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