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In game books, you are the main character yourself! Destiny Quest Legion of Shadow” is the first volume of the Destiny Quest series and offers over 600 pages of adventure fun with almost innumerable quests at different levels of difficulty.
Whoever thought the time of game books was over was mistaken. Because with newer authors like Michael J. Ward, this genre lives on and also takes on new impulses from the gaming world.
But wait…. you are reading about “gamebooks” for the first time and have no clue what is meant? In short: a gamebook is a mixture of role-playing game and fantasy novel. You could also say it is an interactive novel in which you, the reader, help determine the course of the plot and jump back and forth between numbered sections of text.
The genre emerged in the 1980s and, along with so-called pen-and-paper role-playing games such as “Dungeons & Dragons” or “The Black Eye” influenced many later computer and console games, such as World of Warcraft or the Final Fantasy series.
Conversely, developments in the gaming sector have also had a knock-on effect on the gamebook genre, as can be seen in Destiny Quest Legion of Shadow, among others!
What makes the book different from other gamebooks? How exciting is it? How does the battle system work? And most importantly, who is Destiny Quest Legion of Shadow worthwhile for? – You can find out all this and more in this review.
Note: Mantikore Publishing has kindly provided us with a free copy of Destiny Quest Legion of Shadow for review. However, this review reflects our independent opinion.
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All you need to play besides the book itself are 2 regular dice (W6 for players), and a pencil and eraser!
As with most gamebooks, you keep a record of your hero’s skills, health and equipment on a special table. In Destiny Quest Legion of Shadow, this chart is simply called the Hero Chart.
Unlike other game books, you don’t have to roll dice to find the values, but simply enter the initial values. And so you can start your adventure right away…
“Stumbling, you awake from a dream. It takes you a few seconds to catch your breath, while images of black-scaled monsters and sharp fangs are still in your mind’s eye.“
You wake up as a nameless hero without memory on a full moon night on swampy ground in the forest. And all around you: burnt corpses! Your clothes are tattered and soaked by the rain and on your arm you see a strange violet mark. It represents three entwined snakes, with mysterious magical signs all around.
You look around in panic and find a badly wounded squire. He tells you a few details about your surroundings and what happened, but as he has only known you for a day, he cannot give you any information about your identity. As he is dying, he gives you a letter of recommendation for a certain Master Avian Dal of the Academy of Zehntburg, as well as his sword…
Now your adventure begins: at the beginning of the book Destiny Quest The Legion of Shadow are 3 maps for 3 acts of the narrative. You naturally study the first map and decide to explore one of the locations. These are marked with numbers and symbols.
The numbers tell you the section of text where to continue reading, the symbols tell you if it is a quest, a settlement, a legendary monster or even the boss of that act. The quests come in 4 difficulty levels.
For gamers, the procedure is now somewhat familiar and intuitive: it makes sense to start with easy quests and level up your abilities as well as your equipment. In the course of the game, you will always find new weapons and other equipment. However, since you can only carry a limited number, you have to discard some at some point if you want to use new ones. When upgrading your skills, you have to choose one of 3 paths at some point in Act 1 of the story: Warrior, Mage or Rogue.
This brings us back to the hero arc. This overview table is printed 4 times in the book. However, if you prefer to have it separately, you can copy it or download it directly free of charge from Mantikore Publishing.
The 5 attributes of each hero are Power, Magic, Agility, Armour and Life. At the start of the adventure, the first 4 are all at 0 and Life at 30. Although you can increase all attributes in any case, by choosing one of the 3 paths you focus on one of the first 3, the Warrior builds up Strength, the Mage Magic and the Rogue Agility.
Furthermore, on the left side of the hero board there are fields for equipment (clothes, weapons etc.) and a money bag, which is filled with 10 gold ducats at the beginning.
On the right side of the hero board one notes the chosen path, the current profession and associated special abilities. While you cannot change the path you have chosen, it is possible to change associated professions as often as you like, if you learn them from the relevant masters.
Battles usually take several combat rounds, during which you roll the dice to see if you or your opponent will hit and how much damage will be done. In addition to pure dice luck, the 5 attributes already mentioned play a decisive role, both yours and those of your opponent.
Roughly speaking, agility affects the probability of winning a combat round. Strength or magic determines the damage you inflict on the other person, armour reduces the damage inflicted and life points are self-explanatory. Sometimes certain special abilities of an opponent have to be taken into account.
A battle drags on until either you or the opponent is defeated. If you die as a hero in a fight, however, this is not the end of the adventure! In this respect, Destiny Quest Legion of Shadow is pleasantly different from most other gamebooks.
If you die, you have two choices: either simply repeat the section you died in, or return to the map of the act you are currently playing and try to explore another quest/location.
Destiny Quest Legion of Shadows was interesting as a gamebook if only because it differs in many ways from other representatives of the genre.
Destiny Quest Legion of Shadows is significantly longer than most gamebooks and really offers numerable different possibilitiesn, so that you can experience quite different adventures even if you play it several times, especially if you also take different “paths” and adopt different professions. For game book fans, the book therefore offers a lot of room for free development!
The individual quests even feel more important than the main quest, which functions more as a frame story. Ideal if you like a lot of variety! But if you prefer a big, all-connecting storyline, you should rather turn to other game books like The Shamutanti Hills or Lone Wolf – Escape from the Dark.
I really like the fact that in Destiny QuestLegion of Shadow you are not completely thrown back to the beginning when you die, as this can be very frustrating at times with other gamebooks. However, there are still a bit too many battles for my taste, so that you feel like you are constantly dicing and rolling dice. I would have preferred a few more strategic decisions or puzzles or something like that instead.
But all in all, reading/playing is a lot of fun, not least because of Michael J. Ward’s often very humorous style.
Due to the simple rules, this game book is also suitable for newcomers, but most of all it will probably appeal to game book connoisseurs, who will appreciate how much freedom of choice and possibilities you have here. Overall, it is also recommended to all those who enjoy a lot of fighting and like to do many different side quests and sub-quests.
And for those who have really tasted blood, there are even more volumes of the Destiny Quest series to discover.
A comprehensive and very varied fantasy gamebook with great freedom of choice and many different quests, appealing to newcomers and professionals alike
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