Puffin Books, £3.50, ISBN ISBN 0-14-034057-2
Black Vein Prophecy earns plenty of goodwill because of the unusual setting and the very memorable, if unorthodox, story line of the campaign. Set in an unnamed island in the cluster known as the Isles of the Dawn, which seems to be influenced by ancient China, we have you, the hero, waking up in a tomb with no memory of the past. You have nothing with you – no weapon, no food, nothing. Finding your identity and getting into trouble pretty much make up the campaign. And yes, you are no ordinary person – but discovering your true identity in a land torn by civil war is a big part of the fun here.
I have to warn you, this one is tough. Sudden deaths are everywhere, and there is only one true path to the happy ending here. You need to carry out some tasks, learn some spells, and make the right turns, but sometimes you only know that you’re in deep crap just a short distance away from absolute victory. The dangers here don’t come in the form of combat opponents with high stats, they arise when you deviate from the script determined by the authors.
Still, Black Vein Prophecy is never boring. There are many memorable and imaginative scenes that are to be savored. Without going into spoilers, let me just say that the end result is an interesting story indeed. The downside of this intriguing gamebook is the presence of many loose ends that are not wrapped up by the last page. But still, this has been a most interesting trip, and therefore I can’t really dislike this one.