Wizard Books, £5.99, ISBN 1-84046-642-1
Eye of the Dragon is the first “Brand New Adventure” to be released under Wizard Books’ revival of the gamebook series, but it is not only an expansion of a shorter campaign released a long time ago, it is also a silly and unimaginative dungeon crawl that feels horribly dated to read and play.
The plot seems like something concocted by Mr Livingstone while on a trip of debauchery to Thailand. Heaven knows, Fang is based on Chiang Mai, no? So here you are, an adventurer in Fang, determined to find fame and fortune, slumming it in Chiang Mai when you are approached by a stranger, Henry Delacor. No, Henry doesn’t sneak drugs into your bag and alert the customs for a sequel to those horrible prison movies – he lets you know that there is a valuable treasure, the Golden Dragon, hidden in a “labyrinth” under Darkwood Forest. He’ll let you know where the entrance to this labyrinth is, if you will be a good hero, drink this poison that will kill you in 14 days, retrieve the treasure in that period of time, and return to him. And like any sane hero would do, you drink the poison.
The labyrinth is surprisingly full of people. There is even a merchant who set up shop in there! You know, I am starting to think that the whole campaign is one long metaphor for Mr Livingstone’s personal quest for the hottest naughty club in Thailand. It’s like that book The Beach or something. There is even a character, Lo Lo Mai, who speaks in rhymes and tries to cheat our hero. There is no explanation as to why she speaks like that, which leads me to suspect that she’s based off an enterprising hussy who promised Mr Livingstone plenty of naughty pleasure only to rob the man blind once she had lured him into her boudoir of sin.
The campaign is pretty simple: you will be making random turns and opening doors. Sometimes there are monsters in the room, which of course you’d dutifully slay. You’d then pick up the special items you find in that room. Repeat and rinse until your bag and pockets are loaded with all kinds of stupid junk, none of which you can bear to discard because you know Mr Livingstone would most likely spring a surprise at the end and let you know that the stupid tiny pebble you tossed aside back in Paragraph 14 is actually the special key to the final door to victory. Oh, and have fun with Mr Livingstone’s obligatory dwarf sidekick – this one is particularly irritating because he not only won’t shut up but he will also be a liability in more ways than one.
Whatever Mr Livingstone was smoking in Thailand to come up with the “inspiration” for this campaign, clearly it was of an inferior quality.