Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies iOS app review
I’ve always been a big fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books, ever since I picked one up in 2nd grade. In 4th grade, I discovered a book in my classroom called Fighting Fantasy: Citadel of Chaos. This was the coolest book I had ever seen up to that point, combining CYOA with dice, a character sheet, equipment, treasure and combat! I had been introduced to D&D at an early age, so I was familiar with the basic mechanics, but to be able to adventure any time I wanted, with vastly different outcomes depending on the roll of the dice? This was a whole new game indeed.
Fast-forward about 20 years. I love playing games on my iPad, and I love reading on my iPad. That got me thinking; surely someone was out there making a digital gamebook. It’s a perfect match! The app could keep track of your stats and equipment, and roll dice in the app. After a bit of searching, I game upon Tin Man Games and their Gamebook Adventures. At the time, they had just released their second offering, The Siege of the Necromancer. At first blush, the $5.99 price tag seemed a bit steep, but that is really only in comparison to other iOS apps, a lot of them ad-supported. When you think about it, a regular paperback book will usually run about that much. Since it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, I took a chance and I was very pleased with the purchase. The app features atmospheric music that changes with the situation, sound effects, a dice roller that let’s you “bump” the table with the accelerometers. It also features a sophisticated “bookmarking” feature which allows you to save your place at critical junctures.
Tin Man Games most recent release is the first to carry the Fighting Fantasy label, and is by one of the original co-creators of Fighting Fantasy, Ian Livingstone. The book uses the same Gamebook Adventures engine, but the zombie theme is a nice twist, and gets away from the tried-and-true sword and sorcery genre. The book is very deep, and allows for a lot of different paths to be taken. I think I’ve probably put about 5 or 6 hours in to the book and I’m still finding new paths. As an added bonus, the book keeps a tally of how many zombies you’ve slain on the front cover. There is a ton of items and weapons to find, including med-kits which can heal your stamina after some of the bigger zombie swarms (assuming you survive). The game features several modes of play: Free Read, Medium, and Hardcore. Free Read allows you to chose any of the options given, even if you don’t technically have the required item, a back button if you forgot to book mark and chose poorly, and a heal me button to add to your stamina. I would only recommend this mode if you’re completely frustrated, or really want to see what happens on a path for which you can never find the required item. Medium starts you out with 40+2d6 stamina, and hardcore starts you out with 20+2d6 stamina. Hardcore is aptly named, because unlike other game books, you don’t have to just find the correct ending, you have to find that ending after killing every single zombie. Even getting through the book on medium was an incredible challenge, hardcore is truly for the Fighting Fantasy elite.
Overall, I would recommend this to any fan of gamebooks, especially those with iPads. For the $5.99 price you get both iPhone and iPad versions, which is nice if you get stuck somewhere and want to kill some zombies on your phone, but the reading experience and the illustrations are way better on the iPad. I’ll be looking for the next Tin Man Games/Fighting Fantasy release: Steve Jackson’s House of Hell!