Fighting Fantasy Legends – PC Review

Genre: Adventure Indie RPG Card Games
Developer: Nomad Games
Publisher: Nomad Games
Release Date: Jul 27, 2017

Final Fantasy Legends is an interesting attempt at converting the beloved Fighting Fantasy – solo-adventure gamebooks many of us loved as children into something more than the normally seen direct translation into electronic gamebooks. Here, Nomad has taken three scenarios, added bits and pieces to them, meshed them into one larger more exciting story, and expanded upon the rudimentary Fighting Fantasy game mechanics – thereby hoping to create a modern solo-adventure.

Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, for those who never heard of them, was an early interactive fantasy novel series that by giving the reader multiple choices by sending them to different pages based on dice rolls and choices. This would send you through a “new” adventure every time you read the book and you could enjoy your adventure repeatedly. I enjoyed quite a few of these either while being home from school sick or on vacation in the back of the family car. So going into this I carried a lot of nostalgia with me into this adventure.

I think that perhaps one thing I “forgot” was my tendency as a kid to “reroll” dice rolls or redo choices when I got frustrated with the books.
They have expanded a fair bit on the old game mechanics to make this more immersive and exciting and more like a modern RPG/Roguelike. You now have some character progression in the form of upgradable dices and random encounters that are drawn from the “card deck”. Nomad has added a card deck from which you “draw” random encounters and items – a few of which gives permanent bonuses in form of extra dice or stamina these enhancements combined with the larger world gives the player more of a “I’m adventuring in the world of FF” than the normal solo adventure would.

The overview map with your oversized character traversing from location to location is, more or less, just a place to buy healing and to have a graphic representation of you moving from scenario to scenario. The viewpoint is top down where true isometric would have helped a fair bit and the world map looks lackluster and has very little charm and atmosphere, sadly this tend to hold true throughout the game. It is a nice touch but it could have been better – for example, placing you IN the landscape and adding random encounters to your travels would have given you a far better illusion of being in the FF world and added to replay-ability. However once you enter the largest city on the map, or a dungeon/scenario, and move around inside it your character’s size fits the surroundings much better and the immersion improves dramatically. I wish they would have done it this way throughout the entire game, but being that this is a cross platform game (PC and Mobile) I can see why they did not, I just lament what could have been. If only the game was not so obviously designed for the tablet/mobile platform, so instead of moving around freely you click on icons that appear as you are near a location or pathway (to go down a road, alley, through a door, inside a house etc.).

Nomad has strung together three Fighting Fantasy adventures into one single game and, to their credit, it’s been done as well as I suppose it could be done without doing major rewrites – and it feels ok? However, for fans of the books it is obvious though. The overall larger story does help in the way of making you feel more like you are a part of a greater world and if they were to add more stories to it maybe it would grow to become something great – it would need a lot of adjustments in balancing etc. to do that though..

One thing that slowly resurfaced for me as I played the game was how often I felt utterly frustrated having to start over and go through the same choices all over, hoping that this time I would finally be able to beat the solo adventure… and I will openly admit that at a given point the kid version of me would redo a dice throw or choice just to get on with the story.

Adding more tasks to your already trying life as a FF adventurer has not made things any less hard or frustrating only in here I cannot really redo a dice throw etc. Thankfully, Nomad has realized this and instead of outright killing you, your character is simply ejected to outside the location with 1 stamina.

All in all the game can be summarized with the statement – It was a good attempt. I see the intentions Nomad had in trying to make this something more than just a direct conversion and I applaud it but I am just not convinced. The game ends up almost being a RPG but not quite and that is frustrating – one might wish that Nomad had taken more advantage of the pc medium, and maybe they wanted to stay true to the original books, but in the end I was mostly left frustrated over what could have been – than truly enjoying what I got. Again, if this had been a review of a mobile game, things would be different.

It still feels somewhat lacking and I just cannot help feeling that unless I was a diehard Fighting Fantasy fan my money could be spent better on other games in the RPG genre. As a Fighting Fantasy entry – FFL is pretty great, as a mobile/tablet it’s also pretty good – but the bar is higher on the pc – and as an RPG or Roguelike there are just so many better ways to spend the $9.99 they’re asking for this.

I have many fond memories of the Fighting Fantasy Books from my childhood and even some from the mobile conversions – and had this been a review of a mobile/tablet game I might have been more positive. However, this is a PC RPG/Roguelike and as such Fighting Fantasy Legends comes up somewhat mediocre. It very narrowly misses on becoming a great new entry and instead slides into the dangerous territory of games played only by diehard fans of the books.

Pros:

  • Larger story – more adventuring
  • Nice audio side
  • Character progression and “levelling”
  • More replayability than earlier versions

Cons:

  • Obvious mobile port
  • Graphics seem lackluster and “flat”
  • No free movement in towns and dungeons – you are still locked into choice based movement
  • Frustratingly repetitive at times
  • Too little variety in random encounters

Adarkchylde gives Fighting Fantasy Legends a Drastik Measure 6.5 out of 10 (65)

If only this wasn’t just a port of the mobile game – I would really love to finally see a true RPG treatment of the world of the Fighting Fantasy Books perhaps in Fighting Fantasy Legends 2 – meanwhile any true fan of the books will likely love this game and think I was too hard on it – and happily pay the money to play it. My biggest regret is perhaps you might as well play it on your tablet as your pc and that seems like a waste to me.

Fighting Fantasy Legends is available on Steam for $9.99 USD.