Spellcaster: The Forgotten Spell is another adventure book from Tin Man Games. I remember enjoying one of their previous adventures, Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies, but was far from being really impressed in my review. Still, I enjoy a good ol' choose-your-own-adventure book and decided to give this one a sporting chance. Was Spellcaster: the Forgotten Spell the magical tome I hoped it would be? Or did it only serve to curse me with a horrible gaming experience?
The Spellcaster trilogy from Louisa Dent Pearce is a series of gamebooks in which the reader chooses his or own fate. Tin Man Games has translated the experience to iOS devices and has made the books decidedly more gamer-friendly. Other than the automated Adventure Sheet, the music and in-game achievements, you'll find that the physical book and the game are nearly identical.
You take on the role of Anivad, a youth who has just turned 13. You come home to find that your mother is being threatened by a figure with wings who speaks with a strange accent. It turns out that this person, if we can call it that, is looking for you and wants to end your life.
Want to find out what happens in the story? Then scroll down to the next paragraph to continue the adventure.
Just want to skip the story bits and see how the game works? Hold on tight and skip to the paragraph after the Spellbook screenshot!
Suddenly, you're whisked away to a city that's cold, dreary and is full of magical creatures, all of which are described as fairly disgusting creatures. There's also a sense that this city has a mix of steampunk and magical elements that make it fairly distinct when combined with its wretched denizens.
This is Suidemor, city of the Faeries and home to all sorts of magical creatures. But it's also home to darkness, since it was taken over by a powerful warlock. It turns out that the evil warlock is Olcrada, the very same fiend who threatened your mother and tried to end your life.
In Suidemor, you'll find citizens that will help you, though some might only do so with compensation, as well as a number of items that range from useful to not-so-useful. You might even come across items that are cursed, if you don't tread carefully. It is your job to find out who you are, where to find the Forgotten spell, and try to bring an end to Olcrada's tyranny once and for all.
To help you survive the many trials and tribulations you'll find in Spellcaster: The Forgotten Spell, you are armed with a spellbook that catalogs different spells you might learn along the way. These spells can be cast at any time when prompted and have various effects. For instance, you can learn a spell that transforms any items you have multiples of into Geld, which is Suidemor's currency. This means that you can potentially turn all of your items into money in order to buy more items. But you never know if you'll need a specific item later on in the story, so you must cast spells like this judiciously.
The magic of the Elder Fey uses numbers, so be prepared to do a lot of math in Spellcaster. To successfully cast a spell, you have to find the "final spell number," which is your current page number added to the spell's number. Using the Geld spell as an example again, if the spell number is 24 and the page number is 153, the final spell number is 177.
Paying attention to stuff like spell numbers and the items you have on hand is made easier with the inclusion of the Spell Book and the Adventure Sheet. These provide you with the options to tackle all of the dangers in Suidemor the way you want. You might find that some characters show up again later in the story. Depending on how you treated them in the past, you might have a harder or easier time in the game if they decide to help or hinder you. The best piece of advice I can give you is to pay attention to every detail.
For all it sets out to do, Spellcaster: The Forgotten Spell is a fine start to what is supposed to be a trilogy. The story, while full of distracting stylized words (nun, drinkun, halven, oobanata, etc), is fairly gripping and leads you to explore Suidemore more deeply. Some of the descriptions can get redundant (you'll quickly learn that everything is grimy or filthy), but you can power through them to learn more about the world. It may not be as magical as Hogwarts or Hogsmeade, but going to Suidemor is definitely a trip worth taking, even if the ticket costs $3.99.