Megara Entertainment, $12.50, ISBN 978-1515330455
Fantasy, 2015 (Reissue)
Redeemer! is the long-awaited sequel to the ill-done Inferno!… or rather, long-waited sequel because it took ages for Megara Entertainment to release this one in a more affordable trade paperback format. Apparently trying to revitalize a series by letting it be available to people who aren’t filthy rich ranks low in the scheme of things compared to getting out colored hardcover books that cost a fortune. Anyway, the cheap people’s version of Redeemer!, unlike Ninja!, at least looks like it’s reformatted for trade paperback rather than mere print-outs from what seems like an online draft, complete with underlined links. The cover, though… clearly, these folks at Megara Entertainment spared no expenses with this one.
Anyway, this one begins right after Inferno! ended, so read the review of that gamebook at least if you haven’t caught up. Of course, if you don’t want to be spoiled, then it’s time to press the back button before it is too late.
So, as Avenger, the ninja king of Irsmuncast, you are going to have “chow for the Black Widow, supreme leader of the dark forces in the Rift” added to your epitaph unless you do something fast. After doing whatever it is you to choose to do, you then have to try to rally whichever of your scattered allies that you could find – that idiot mage Eris, the handsome but ultimately useless
Teflon Taflwr, and Thybault, the only sane and useful one of the bunch because he is a cleric. (Vespers, alas, is the first casualty in this gamebook – his head is chomped off, and you don’t even get to steal his sword, ugh.) Not that it matters – all of these goons are scattered and needing rescue. Oh, and rescue Glaivas. You may also come across Doré le Juene, still the biggest idiot of all, but he has nice healing hands, so that makes him more useful than Eris and Taflwr. Finally, you need to get out of the Rift and then clean up the mess in your city-kingdom that is caused by your absence. See, this is what happens when your companions are idiots.
Redeemer! is an unexpectedly solid follow-up, and more importantly, it succeeds in making Inferno! matters. Since it has been a while, you should at the very least cheat your way through Inferno! again before tackling this one, as several key choices and developments in that previous gamebook can make a difference between life and death here. And yes, some of those choices and developments mean unavoidable death here, which can be a disappointment especially if you are hoping for Avenger and Foxglove to be a canon couple. Don’t worry, there is still hope for a coupling with Doré or Gwyneth. Anyway, the campaign is fast-paced and solid, and it is great to see how sometimes pragmatic options trump emotional and visceral ones – the latter can even lead you to an ignoble end, which makes perfect sense.
The difficulty level is a mixed bag. On one hand, there are tough encounters – the final boss is a one-hit kill option (two-hit kill if you manage to locate the right items), while there is one mid-boss with rather ill-explained combat dynamics that can lead to some frustrating random picking of options while your Endurance points drain away with each wrong option. On the other hand, the distribution of skill usefulness is quite lopsided – some skills are next to useless here, others are very situational and would be used only once or twice, but a handful of skills can actually allow you to circumvent potentially troublesome encounters entirely. If you choose those handful of skills, this campaign becomes much easier. Fortunately, two of those skills are obvious “must-have” from the beginning, if you take into account your current predicament, if you do not have those skills in previous campaigns and are in the mood to cheat, heh. Your companions are not that much of a liability here, fortunately, although you can make one horrible misstep with Glaivas that can ruin the entire campaign easily. All in all, this is a pretty happening campaign that can rival those in previous gamebooks.
Just watch out for the appearance of a brand new spunky female NPC late in the campaign that is annoying, obnoxiously capable, and oozing Mary Sue from every pore. “Hee-hee-hee, I come out of nowhere and am suddenly very important and useful to the main character because of my AWESOME EVERYTHING-CAN-DO SKILLS!” God, please let that thing die if this gamebook series will continue, or else she’d be just as insufferable and obnoxious as Qinefer was in those Lone Wolf novels.
Anyway, Redeemer! is definitely worth a look if you are fan of this gamebook series, and, unlike Ninja!, this one feels more in line, tune, and spirit to the gamebook series. Well, at least until Qinefer Sue shows up, but even then, she’s only in the campaign for a while so she’s not too unbearable. For now.