The book is very well written, with long descriptive paragraphs. Nothing felt like obvious filler to me. Everything had a vast amount of detail to it and there were usually 3 or more choices at the end of each section. If the book had referenced a room with some cupboards, a shelf, a chest and a bed in the corner, I could search them all.
I felt like I had a good amount of freedom to move around in this non-linear gamebook.
One thing I especially liked was the ability to backtrack. Not many gamebooks allow you to revisit rooms or areas of the dungeon you are exploring. I wish id had this option at the end of Firetop Mountain to go back and find the Warlocks treasure keys!!
The game system behind the book is almost a carbon copy of Fighting Fantasy, however the one big difference is the damage received/inflicted. Instead of the standard 2 Hit Points, its actually the difference between your score and the enemies. This had its ups and its downs as sometimes I could kill a vampire outright with a solid roll, but then I could be struck down by a Skeleton Warrior in one blow. I like the idea of being rewarded for high rolls, but it just felt a tiny bit unbalanced in places. You could easily just use the 2 HP rule from Fighting Fantasy however. You still get the same great experience.
There was an extremely dark feeling to this game, and the way the passages are written really gives off an eerie feel, immersing you in a way that some gamebooks just cant!
In a strange way, it kinda felt a bit like a dark souls story. You an unknown adventurer, wakes up in a crypt with no idea who or where you are. fighting endless amounts of nasty creatures and only working out what the story is about through investigation and exploration.
Plus not to mention the amount of insta-kill traps I came across. all sorts of dart traps or tripwires, crushing boulders and hidden enemies slicing you up from behind. Its great as it keeps you on your toes and its short enough to want to start again, without loosing too much progress in the process.
Escape from the Crypt is a great little gamebook, but its not without some flaws. There are a few "continuity" errors I found throughout the adventure, and while not game breaking, they did retract from the immersion in some cases.
for example, one section I was in a room and I found a flask or container full of water. I drank up the lot, restoring some health in the process and on i went. 2 or 3 sections later, I was apparently dying of thirst, barely able to go on as I was so dehydrated, desperate for a drink. It happened again with a torch later on, I had not picked one up yet but somehow the game had just assumed I had. Going back I was able to get one anyway but its still not the point.
Another instance was with a certain creature type. I had not come across one of these yet but somehow my character knew all about them being in this dungeon, and that they were close by.
I don't think they ruin the gamebook in any way but they do break the immersion occasionally. I think with just a little more play-testing this could've easily been avoided with an extra choice or two.
The only other thing that's not a necessity, but more of a nice touch would be some artwork. I know artwork is expensive when you're self publishing or on a budget and its not ideal but Gamebook's are renowned for their dark and detailed artwork. I'd love to have seen what some of these enemies looked like in the eyes of the writer as some of them, I've never seen before in other books. Again not important but would have been a cool addition!
Anyway after many, many attempts I did finally escape the crypt and it was indeed a satisfying ending (for me at least!). I rather enjoyed this little quest much more than I thought I would, and while its not particularly long, its fresh and interesting enough to want to play though it many many more times.
I highly recommend this to any gamebook fans out there, especially those who want a bit of a break from the big series out there. A solid dice system with a dark and unforgiving atmosphere that's not too dark for kids to enjoy. Adam did an excellent job with this one and I cant wait to see what happens in the next installment.
(Which I've been told is out in August!)
Adventure Gamebook Series #1 Escape from the Crypt by Adam J Pestridge.
Reviewed by H-Bob-omb! (The Gamebook Adventurer)