Armada Books, £1.75, ISBN 0-00-692386-0
The Black Pyramid is a gamebook that makes me wish I have a way to give this book a score that is less than one oogie. It’s not just a terrible gamebook, it’s also a gamebook that has me questioning the point of gamebooks altogether.
The plot is simple – you, an adventurer, is looking for trouble in an outpost town near the Groaning Desert. You encounter a badly burned man being escorted into the inn where you are currently loitering in, and before he dies, the man lets you in on a mysterious Black Pyramid in the desert. Lured by promises of danger and treasures, you decide to seek out this mysterious structure yourself.
And oh my god, that will be your biggest mistake in your gamebook career, because The Black Pyramid isn’t just a notoriously difficult dungeon crawl, you will find yourself stumbling upon the same boring and flatly-described locations again and again until you will want to fling the book onto the highway and cheer as heavy traffic run over this book repeatedly. You will be wandering through three levels in the Black Pyramid once you’ve located it, and it will be a tedious dungeon crawl with interminable loops and backtracks. The occasional combat encounters are ridiculously tough, but then again, dying and being able to escape this horrible campaign is more like a blessing than a curse.
There is only one true way in this campaign, and to get through this one true path, you will need to make several detours to locate some items, items that you are not clued in as important until it’s too late. What’s more horrid is that once you locate the finish point in the Black Pyramid, you then have to backtrack and find the way out. You have made a map, haven’t you? No? Then it’s time to burn this book as ritual sacrifice to the Great Lord Asmodeus!
The Black Pyramid offers some potentially interesting scenarios about aliens and what not, but there is no resolution or pay-off. You don’t learn anything, you don’t get anything, and all you have to show at the end of the day are wasted time and unnecessary trauma.
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