Puffin Books, £3.50, ISBN 0-14-032675-8
It is pretty much a cosmic law that any gamebook designed by Luke Sharp will be utterly boring, focused on random choices, and devoid of any flavor. Daggers of Darkness is not something that will salvage Luke Sharp’s reputation anytime soon.
You’re one of Segrek’s Select. That means you stand in line to inherit the Throne of a south-western land in Khul called Kazan. It’s a Mongolian type of setting, not that you will know it from Mr Sharp’s rudimentary prose devoid of details. Segrek, the recent ruler, had died. The evil Vizier – is there any other kind? – Chingiz has designs on the throne so he has the news of Segrek’s death suppressed even as the Necromancer gets his Mamlik Assassins to kill off the Select. When the campaign opens, the utterly useless wizard and author avatar Astragal has saved you from sudden death, although you are still poisoned by the Assassin’s dagger. The “evil dagger” (heh) contains a powerful “Death Spell” (no kidding) and you will die from the poison of the Death Spell unless you hand the dagger back to Chingiz. I wish I making this up, but no.
Astragal is bound by contrivances to be of no assistance to you, so you are alone as you head off to Kazan. There, you will be faced with incessant random choices of whether to turn left, right, up, or down – with no descriptions provided to distinguish each choice – and, as you randomly wander around like an idiot, you get more and more poisoned. Characters show up with little explained of their motivations or their identities, and you go through the whole campaign feeling that you are just walking through a random series of disconnected events.
Daggers of Darkness is too stupefying. mind-numbing, and boring for words. Get this one for your collection, if you will, but save the actual playing for those times when you have problems falling asleep.