@FightingFantasy – Gates Of Death. The second brand new Fighting Fantasy adventure game book released after Port Of Peril in 2017s Scholastic relaunch of the series. So how was it for me?
After an excruciating wait from Fighting Fantasy Fest 2 up until today I finally managed to tread through the latest adventure set in Allansia. Charlie Higson of The Fast Show fame had been a fan of Fighting Fantasy for years, and has graced us with Gates Of Death, his debut epic for the series. He was invited by FF co-series creator Ian Livingstone to guest write, and has made history as the first guest writer to have his own name on the front cover of an FF book. The celebrity essence may lend the series some pulling power.
Now, you may already know that I cannot stand the internal art scholastic has chosen for these books.
Little better than cheap grayscale slap dash comic styles, and this book is no exception. It’s a shame because the beautiful realistic illustrations in the classic series is what attracted me to FF in the first place. Thankfully, Higson’s writing hits the nail on the head and saves the book with fast paced scenarios and cleverly interwoven snares for readers to get netted up in. Multi FF author Jonathan Green is said to have coached Higson and this is apparent as Gates Of Death contains a couple of similar elements to Greens work Night Of The Necromancer, although this may be coincidence. But then the lore dies.
One thing I noticed is the fighting aspect is really kept to a minimum. You could always use an alternative to get yourself out of a rut with opponents. I think I completed the adventure with only four actual melee combats. There is plenty of magic to be found and used in this adventure, three pairs of magic shoes for example. I guess he likes giving you plenty of chances to win as you only need one pair!
FF is now meant to be aimed at a younger demographic than before, although this book introduces the words ‘bum’ and ‘farting’ into the FF vocab. Not to mention a mutant with two faces on it’s bottom actually illustrated! While it’s clearly meant to bring humour it seems to cheapen the feel of the serious quest.
Overall this is a grand adventure plot, much better than the flawed ho hum badly named Port Of Peril (which barely has anything to do with the Port in question, you’re there longer in this book) …but an uneducated debut for Higson to the series. He could easily do better. 4/10