Video Game Review: Gamebook Adventure Six—The Wizard From Tarnath Tor | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Video Game Review: Gamebook Adventure Six—The Wizard From Tarnath Tor

Image: Tin Man Games

Book six of Tin Man Games’ fantasy gamebook series, The Wizard From Tarnath Tor, serves up a classic tale of hardcore fantasy with a side of modern skull-cracking brutality. Savagely beaten, robbed and left for dead near the corpse of your murdered father, you embark on a revenge-fueled slaughter spree that leads you to the height of a wizardly conspiracy. This newest Gamebook Adventure, penned by New Zealand author Al Sander, skirts the boundaries of film noir, Tolkein-esque lore, and Mad Max post-apocalyptic anarchy. Thematically, it is something to behold. Sander weaves a very ambitious tale, with few blemishes to distract one from the grandeur. This all adds up to a very exciting addition to the series (available only on the iPad/iPhone), and a must-have for fans of the previous books. More after the jump!

As Sander himself describes the titular city at the heart of his narrative, it is a city in which supernatural power resonates on the fringe of perception, and where beauty and danger are in equal supply: “I’ve always been a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and for the longest time I’ve had a picture in my head of a desolate city, abandoned completely and suddenly at the height of its power and splendour, with a cold and lonely wind blowing through its once bustling streets (Interview with Tin Man Games).” This is exactly what one gets with this gamebook. Exploring the city throughout the game is fun and can be rewarding in your main quest, if you survive, that is.

Kraken Attax! (Photo: Tin Man Games)

With all of this innovation and shiny newness in the narrative, this game is really a throwback to the roots of the series mechanically. There are no new gameplay elements in this title, which is a strong choice from a developer standpoint. I can understand their not wanting to dilute the original (and fantastic) concept of the series by adding needless bells and whistles. Each battle, and there are many, is a test of your will and your luck. The battle rules are simple: roll your dice to attack and if your opponent can’t roll higher numbers, then you successfully hit. The damage is then the sum of the numbers in your original attack roll. Pretty simple and very clean-cut. To hardcore tabletop RPG players, this may be a bit too simplistic, however, you must keep in mind that the most exciting thing about this gamebook is the story and not the battles or leveling up your character.

The music, by Ryan Grogan is easily the strongest of the series. It is reminiscent of the best Harry Potter film scores, yet remains fresh and scary in its own right. The opening theme is high-tempo and bright with counterpoints of sinister minor keys. A perfect analogue to the story itself. The battle music is engaging with themes that inspire images of war. I wish I could have an MP3 of the battle music so I could go running to it. It would probably take a whole two minutes off my mile time.

As an English major by education and a writer by trade, I can’t help but mention that I did find a few grammatical and punctuation flaws within the text itself. I’m not going to list them here, as that’s not necessarily important to my point. The important thing is that it can be very distracting as a reader to see punctuation mistakes in the text you’re otherwise enjoying. While I’m certainly no Strunk and White, I do like to see a certain amount of polish to the text I read. As a whole, the electronic gamebook genre is but a fledgling. In order for it to flourish in the years to come, it must be taken seriously by the publishing industry and the general public and this cannot be accomplished if there are (seemingly) careless mistakes within the text. In essence, I bring this up out of love, and not to be self-righteous.

*Insert Bandit Joke Here!* (Photo: Tin Man Games)

It is with great love, and a passion for the great folk at Tin Man Games that I strongly recommend this title. It was a truly imaginative and exciting sojourn through a magical world. I will let the author of The Wizard From Tarnath Tor have the last word with another excerpt from his recent interview with Tin Man Games: “In the future I hope to not only see the current trends of drawing from different sources and medias to continue but also the development of existing formats to create interesting, high quality gamebooks.” I couldn’t agree more.

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