Knight Books, £3.99, ISBN 0-340-42397-8
Doomwalk is the fourth gamebook in the Blood Sword series and its very existence is a spoiler for The Demon’s Claw. Do not play this gamebook or even read this review if you do not want to be spoiled! Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Demon’s Claw saw your bunch of heroes gaping stupidly as your nemesis Icon the Ungodly managed to drag the Blood Sword into the underworld along with him by the last entry in the gamebook. Well, fear not, for your ally, the sorceress Fatima, informs you that there is a way to enter the underworld, Sheol, and most importantly return from that place. All you need to do is to locate the famed Entasius the Magician who has studied the secrets of Sheol in a desperate attempt to bring the love of his life back from death. Of course, locating him is not easy, and let’s not even start with the trek into Sheol itself…
Doomwalk can be roughly divided into two acts: locating Entasius, a trek that will take you from Crescentium over the seas and the many dangers that lurk there to Entasius’ island, and the dangerous trek through Sheol into the very heart of that kingdom in an urgent quest to retrieve the Blood Sword. Until you reach Sheol, the servants of the True Magi are still hot on your heels. What can I say? It’s going to be blast from start from finish.
A nifty hodge-podge of Norse, Greek, and Judeo-Christian elements, this campaign is a beautifully wrought and utterly fantastic epic quest. Both acts are fun. The first act is enjoyable due to the sheer number of twists and turns you can get into while trying to find a way out of Crescentium. There are two main ways to do this, with each option offering its own many twists and turns fraught with danger. There are memorable and chilling encounters with a ghoulish ship, a island featuring a familiar sorceress if you know your Greek mythology, and, if you are unlucky enough to cross the fanatical Sir Tobias de Vatery, a most amusing chase throughout Crescentium as you are branded a heretic spy by your former ally.
The trek through Sheol is more linear, but it is still a very memorable adventure nonetheless as the authors combine various familiar elements of the underworld in a manner that make them all fresh and unique again. From the River Lethe to the god Thor’s drinking hall to the being waiting for you in the heart of Sheol, the whole underworld is depicted as a cold, barren, and hostile place that is at the same time strangely beautiful and fascinating.
The difficulty level is pretty tough, but not hopelessly unfair. I’d suggest, though, that you have a Warrior to lead the party since he’s the hardiest of the four classes and the leader of the party takes a considerable beating here. If you have been playing the same characters since the first book, this is the time when the Warrior truly shines as the meat shield in a party due to his high Endurance Points and combat ability. By the end of this campaign, he will gain the Ambidexterity skill that allows him to wield dual weapons and ignore penalties of unarmed combat, which will make him even more of an asset – the Warrior is no longer a waste of space like he was in previous gamebooks in this series. It will also be helpful to have a Sage and a Trickster as well, but then again, these two classes are always useful. And, for some fun, have an Enchanter and get him to summon his adorable faltyns. These creatures can really wreck some havoc on you here, I tell you.
Doomwalk is easily one of the best gamebooks out there. Then again, the Blood Sword series is pretty much one of the most interesting, memorable, and challenging gamebooks in existence. You shouldn’t just be looking for this gamebook, you should be looking for the entire series.