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In the Lone Wolf Flight from the Dark gamebook, you are the main character: as the “Lone Wolf” you go on an interactive adventure and fight against the demonic Black Lords and many other opponents!
Flight from the Darkness by Joe Dever is the first part of the Lone Wolf gamebook series, which is one of the absolute classics of the genre. In 2007, the author fundamentally revised his work, which had originally been published in 1984. This new, expanded version was then published in German in 2010 and promptly won the RPC Fantasy Award for the best game book.
How? You don’t know what a gamebook is? In short: a mixture of role-playing game and fantasy novel. An interactive novel, so to speak, where the course of the plot depends extremely on your decisions as a reader and your skill as well as your luck as a player. Gamebooks are divided into numbered sections, between which you jump wildly, depending on your decision or the outcome of the battle.
Along with pen-&-paper role-playing games like “Dungeons & Dragons” or “The Black Eye“, the gamebooks that emerged in the 1980s have also influenced numerous later computer and console games, such as the Final Fantasy series.
We have already featured two gamebooks here on Abenteuer Freundschaft. Sorcery! – The Shamutanti Hills by Steve Jackson is also one of the great classics of fantasy role-playing gamebooks. In the Fangs of the Sea Witch is a somewhat lesser known work by a German author (Jens Schumacher) that is quite heavy.
Here now Lone Wolf Flight From the Dark: Does the book live up to its reputation? How exciting is it? How does the battle system work?
Find out all this and more in this review.
Note on transparency: Mantikore Verlag kindly provided us with a free copy of Lone Wolf Flight from the Dark for review purposes. However, this review is unpaid and not agreed upon in terms of content.
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Unlike other game books, you don’t need dice to play, only a pencil and eraser.
As is usual with game books, the entire story is written in the “you” form, which increases the immersion in the story and the feeling of active participation. At the very beginning you are still called “Silent Wolf”, it is your order name, which you got when you became a disciple of the Kai, a highly respected group of martial monks in the land of Sommerlund, 8 years ago. Currently you are about 16 years old and as an initiate you are about halfway through your training to become a Kai master.
Not only have you trained in fighting with weapons and bare hands, but you have also mastered 5 Kai disciplines, special skills. You choose these from a selection of 10 at the beginning of the adventure. Definitely recommended are healing, weaponry and hunting.
On the day of the great spring festival Fehmarn, of all places, it happens. After years of peace, suddenly the armies of the Black Lords attack the Kai Monastery. Terrible monsters and beasts, some of them winged, attack in the most devious and cruel way and commit a massacre. And you are the only one who escapes. (If you don’t die playing first).
Now you are “Lone Wolf”, the last of the Kai. All your teachers and all your friends are dead. You swear vengeance, but more importantly, you must warn King Ulnar of Holmgard of the hosts of evil. The Black Lords had long ago been crushed and driven back by an alliance of the King, the Kai Order and allies from the land of Durendor.
But now they have returned to threaten the free kingdoms of the world of Magnamund. You are the last chance to put a stop to them. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders!
By the way, Lone Wolf Flight from the Dark is only the beginning of the adventures of “Lone Wolf”. These extend over a whole 20 volumes plus some additional books. So you have a long way to go… 😉
(But of course you can also play each volume separately).
On the first pages of Lone Wolf Flight from the Dark you will find an action sheet. Here you pencil in everything important that affects your character and happens to you. There is also a combat log. But since this only leaves room for 7 battles and other things change during the game, an eraser is indispensable.
The action sheet is even printed twice in the book, but you can simply copy it and then play the adventure as often as you like.
The first item on it, are the 5 Kai disciplines already mentioned. This is followed by two fields for weapons. You will find several weapons during the adventure, but you can only carry 2 of them at a time. If you already have two and want to pick up a new one, you have to discard it and erase and replace it on the action sheet. This makes sense, for example, if you have the Kai skill Weapon Lore, which is always linked to a specific type of weapon.
You also have a backpack and a purse, the contents of which are also noted here. There are limits here of 8 items and 50 gold crowns, which cannot be exceeded. Exceptions are meals and special items where this is noted in the text.
The second page of the action sheet is particularly important, as it contains your Fighting Strength and your Stamina Points. You determine both values from a random number table on the back pages of the book. This table is also important for the battles and replaces the use of dice in Lone Wold Flight from the Dark. Instead, you always tap blindly on a box that shows you a number between 0 and 9. You can add 10 points to your combat strength and 20 to your stamina points. In my first adventure, for example, this resulted in combat strength of 13 and stamina points of 26.
While your combat strength itself remains constant, it will be affected or increased depending on the circumstances. If you have no weapon at all in a fight and therefore have to fight with your bare hands, you have to deduct 4 points from it. Certain Kai skills can have a strengthening effect and circumstances explicitly mentioned in the book can also have an influence. Nevertheless, the basic value always remains the same.
It is different with the stamina points, which could also be simply called life points. You lose stamina points every time you fight (unless you are unrealistically lucky) and that is why the Kai discipline Healing is so extremely important, which gives you back one stamina point for every section without a fight. Otherwise you have to rely solely on finding healing potions, which is dangerous because if your stamina points drop to 0 (or below) you are dead and have to start the adventure all over again. It is only possible to regain stamina points, so they can never exceed your initial value.
Battles actually work quite simply in Lone Wolf Flight from the Dark. For each enemy you encounter, the text indicates combat strength and stamina. In the combat log, you now note down your current stamina points and those of the opponent. Then average the combat quotient by subtracting the combat strength of the opponent from yours. This can result in numbers from -11 to + 11.
Now the fight begins, which can last several rounds. In each round, you blindly tap on a random number and then check the combat result table, which can also be found at the end of the book, in the box that results from the combat quotient and random number, to see how much damage you and your opponent have suffered. Correct your stamina points accordingly. This goes on until either you or the opponent is dead.
After playing / reading the book three times, I can well understand why Flight from the Dark or the “Lone Wolf” series has a reputation as a gateway drug and classic in the world of game books. On the one hand, the game system is very easy to understand, even for total role-playing novices, and on the other hand, you are very quickly drawn into the action.
Incidentally, Joe Denver originally developed the fantasy world of Magnamund, in which Flight from the Dark is set, for the game “Dungeons & Dragons”, but then created his own gamebook universe from it.
So I particularly liked the easy start of the game and the very readable, fluid and exciting style of the author. Right at the beginning, with the attack on the Kai monastery, there are quite a few battles in a row, which bothered me a bit at first, because I wanted the plot to finally move on.
But on the other hand, you get to know the fighting system well right away and I died right away the first time I played and then made corrections to my Kai disciplines the second time. As with other role-playing games, it’s part of the game that you die from time to time and have to adjust your strategy.
If you like reading fantasy and playing role-playing games alone or with others, this book is highly recommended. Although it is designed for one player, you can also play it in pairs or as a family and then vote together on the decisions.
However, there are also special multiplayer books in the Lone Wolf series:
A role-playing book that is fantastic in both senses of the word, in that you are the hero, fighting the forces of evil as the young Kai warrior Lone Wolf in the world of Magnamund.
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