Wizard Books, £5.99, ISBN 978-1-84831112-1
Fantasy, 2010 (Reissue)
Creature of Havoc is definitely not your average Fighting Fantasy gamebook. It kicks off with a very long exposition involving magic babies, Elf magic, innocent traitors, evil mages, and more. When you are revealed to be a “creature of havoc” at the start of the campaign, it is therefore easy to deduce who you were before fell magic turned you into a slavering monster.
And yes, you play a monster in this campaign. Your human thoughts are present, but your body may not always obey your whims as you are, after all, trapped in a monster’s body. This campaign is all about you trying to figure out what happened to you and how you are going to get back your comely hardy adventurer body back.
Creature of Havoc is going to a gamebook that you either love or hate. This is because Steve Jackson charges ahead with every sadistic trick in his arsenal. Infinite looping where you end up trapped in the act of going back to the same few paragraphs until you throw the gamebook out the window, the need to find the one true path to victory with a fine comb, and plenty of outcomes that depend on what seems like luck and the not-always-logical whims of the author.
The storytelling element is very strong in this gamebook, although the ending is tad anticlimactic, but honestly, I don’t find it fun at all trying to honestly play through this campaign several times to figure out the correct route to victory. Only once I have figured out Mr Jackson’s script, I can sit back and enjoy the storytelling aspects of the campaign. This one should have been a novel, not a gamebook, if you ask me, but it does have its share of admirers that will proclaim it as the toughest gamebook in the series. I won’t disagree with that, but I disagree on how such difficulty is a virtue. There are some annoying quirks in the campaign design – particularly the infinite loops – that seem more like flaws than strengths to me.
If you want to play this one, be prepared for a very tough and painful campaign that will see you having to make more than a few runs to figure out the right path. Some will call Creature of Havoc joyfully difficult, others would call it an exercise in sadomasochism. Approach this one with caution, in other words.