Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies Review
Zombies, zombies, zombies! You've shot them, bashed their brains, and run away from them. Now get ready to use a different kind of weapon against them: dice rolls! Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies is a brand new Choose Your Own Adventure gamebook in a snazzy digital form, but is it worth the gamble?
Anyone looking to hunt down zombies in a fit of ultra-violence should look elsewhere, because there's even less gameplay here than in The Walking Dead: The Game. You're essentially reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book on your iOS device. So if you're expecting lots of action, get ready to be sorely disappointed, unless you were expecting it in the form of words.
The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have been around since the early 80s and their debut on the App Store comes with all of the trappings that accompany the books proper, such as dice rolls, bookmarks in lieu of page-saving fingers, an adventure sheet to keep track of your stats, and even the ability to cheat and save yourself from certain doom. The game is presented in book format, in order to stay true to its gamebook roots, and comes complete with HD illustrations and creepy music to set the tone. You can even change the look so that the book appears like one of the old-school paperbacks and mess with the fonts to suit your tastes.
This particular adventure puts you in the shoes of a college student who was kidnapped in locked up in a castle dungeon. Upon breaking free, you're given lots of choices in regard to escaping the castle and finding out who's to blame for your abduction. There are many branching paths and there's no telling which choice will lead to your gruesome, vividly-descriptive death. Some options may not even be available to you, depending on what kind of items you've picked up in your adventure.
The game thankfully keeps track of all of the details just in case you're as lazy as I am and don't bother to take notes. There have been a few times when I came to a locked door and the game would say, "If you have a key, you could try it. Turn to 9" and the option would be available to me. And I'd say to my iPad, "Oh man! I forgot I picked one of those up. Sweet!" For the more discerning, there is an Adventure Sheet you can pull up at any time to look over what items you've picked up, your med kits, what kind of damage your equipped weapon will do, and notes that you can discover to open up more branches in the story.
All of the action is determined by dice rolls. You can either throw the dice yourself and shake your device around to see if the physics-based rolls will be kind to you, or turn on the Quick Dice feature for instant gratification --- or death, depending on the outcome. The rest is up to you and which paths you want to take.
The game's longevity is determined by your choices and how often you want to go back to pick different branches after dying. You could always cheat your way to the best ending by playing in Free Read mode, which is meant for casual players and newcomers. This newbie-friendly mode allows you to go back a page just in case you die, gives you the option to heal yourself as many times as you want, and lets you unlock any choice regardless of whether or not you meet its requirements. But running through Blood of the Zombies like this would be boring and the story would be over too quickly, so Medium and Hardcore modes exist for the challenge-minded. For those who are all about multiple play-throughs (or readings?), there are some achievements to be unlocked that require several branching paths.
Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies isn't a bad game, but the price is a little steep for something that can be completed so quickly and with very little effort. The presentation is awesome, but the story is standard fare for these kinds of adventures and I didn't really find myself getting very invested. Again, not to say that it was bad, it just wasn't my cup of zombie blood.