Armada Books, £1.75, ISBN 0-00-692387-9
So, you are back in Skyfall. After cheating your way to the end of The Black Pyramid – oh, admit it, you didn’t actually spent half your life figuring out how to complete that crappy campaign honestly – you now wander east from the kingdom of Delta toward the Morn Mountains. A Mithral load has been discovered near the mining town of Crystal Peak, and now folks, including your Uncle Velic, are all excited about the money they will be reaping in the years to come…
Except that there are plenty of problems afoot that prevent development works from being completed. Ghosts, monsters, “accidents”, and mysterious missing equipment and lumber all prevent folks from getting to this precious Mithral vein. Guess who is asked by old Uncle Velic to solve the problems of the locals.
No, don’t scream and run away yet – this one isn’t that bad. Honestly, Mine of Torments is so different from the previous two gamebooks in the series that I can only wonder whether this David Tant is the same person who wrote the previous two terrible excursions of boring and pointless dungeon-crawling.
You see, there are actually three smaller quests that make up the campaign, and in all three quests, there is only one dungeon crawl, and even that one is a short and mercifully easier excursion compared to the traumatic ones found in the previous two gamebooks. I also like that this campaign actually emphasizes thinking and problem-solving – you don’t just hack your way to victory here. Yes, you will need some items here in order to win and it may take a few tries to discover and retrieve these items, but still, this is actually do-able and even entertaining. Don’t worry about being stuck in a neverending loop like you would in the previous two gamebooks – the dungeon crawl here is actually pretty benign in comparison.
Mine of Torments still has some flaws found also in the previous two gamebooks: uninteresting bestiary, flat scenery, and occasionally frustrating and counter-intuitive design. But compared to the previous two gamebooks, this one is pure gold.