The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (PC) Review

By Athanasios 02.10.2016

Review for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on PC

Being a nerd in the '80s? Awesome! Comics, fiction novels, video games, and, for those higher in the geek ranks, the wondrous world of fantasy board games, and the choose-your-own-adventure gamebooks that preceded them. Both offered hours of fun, deep immersion, and, honestly, some pretty cool figurines and illustrations able to bring forth the inner child inside everyone. That's why Tin Man Games chose to keep the magic of the real thing at its purest, by offering Fighting Fantasy's debut creation, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, in a form that's probably the closest thing to a role-playing board game for the PC.

Before everything, a big applause for the optional, dyslexic-friendly font - it's always great when a developer, especially a small one, adds a little bit of extra care. Now, on with reviewing this wonderful attempt at bringing the charm of a tabletop fantasy board game to the PC. Unlike, for example, Joe Dever's Lone Wolf, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain hasn't been substantially altered in order to distance itself from the core material, and instead has focused in becoming its best digital representation yet.

All characters and enemies are nothing more than plastic figurines like the ones used in real tabletops, and the same goes for the levels themselves, which actually get built real-time, as if an invisible dungeon master hand is placing the props, and, through the use of a very fitting depth of field effect, it gives the impression of actually being there and observing it from the top. As for those that worry that this plastic, non-animated look destroys the immersion, think again, because this very old-school approach, which depends in the minimal use of visual cues and sound effects, makes the one in control fill the gaps with the use of good ol' imagination (remember imagination?).

Screenshot for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on PC

One thing's for sure, though: this will only bring joy to the target audience. If one chooses to simply "play" this, then fun this will be not. After all, this is not about selecting a character and then just guiding him or her through this quest. You have to be that character; plan ahead and be diplomatic like Alexandra of Blacksand, aggressive and war thirsty like Arran Gottspeed, clever-as-a-fox and opportunistic like Dekion Strom, and so on.

In other words, one has to "live" this. Take the gamebook-like interactivity, for instance. It's mostly about choosing the way to go and deciding what to do when faced with problem. Go west through the dark cavern, open the strange chest, kill the Orc on his sleep, turn right through the candlelit corridor? While most heroes have some passive skills that may help them deduce a situation this is mostly about luck… not skill. The thing is, though, that unlike most games, in here that adds to the enjoyment one can have.

Screenshot for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on PC

Like most Dungeons and Dragons-esque fantasy tales, the plot here is as generic as they come: each of the available heroes enters the titular mountain for his own personal mission, but soon decided to keep on moving and face the Warlock of this place to stop his evil from spreading. Once again, however, this simplicity isn't necessarily a bad thing. Like most stories of the genre, it's all about role-playing, about experiencing it all yourself - and even though the storyline isn't something to die for, the writing makes up for it.

Unfortunately, some things will annoy even those who will actually like this unique style of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. First of all, while each character has a different quest, it all takes place in the same world, and, since there's little to no randomization in this gargantuan underground lair, each playthrough will surely get less and less exciting and mysterious than the previous one.

Screenshot for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on PC

By far the worst thing here, though, are the turn-based battles with the Mountain's denizens. They are not bad or anything, since they involve enough strategic thinking to offer some fun, and, depending on the character, can get slightly different since each one has a different set of attacks… but these fights happen way too often, most can't be avoided, and, since this world is not a randomly generated one, pleasure will soon give way to repetitiveness.

Another thing that must be noted and which might possibly not be everyone's cup of ale? Besides the many dead ends, the small amount of provisions (health packs), and the fact that there's no levelling up to strengthen a hero… it's actually possible to level down due to injury, bad luck, or by being cursed! This, however, improves the whole thing, by making the, otherwise, short, distance to the end, much more exciting, and the feeling of completion a lot better… but, once again, only for those that this title was made for.

Screenshot for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The straight-from-gamebook-to-board-game and from-board-game-to-video-game style that The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is flawlessly going for makes this as niche as an RPG can get, and thus, isn't for everyone. Those who can turn on their imagination, "get into" this treacherous world, and actually do some mental role-playing in a role-playing game (gasp!), however, are in for quite the delicious treat.

Developer

Tin Man

Publisher

Tin Man

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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