Bantam Books, $2.50, ISBN 0-553-26089-8
The Castle of Frome is the first book in the special imprint of Choose Your Own Adventure, called Escape from the Kingdom of Frome, so this is actually a gamebook you can play without having to use die, coins, random table numbers, and other accessories. You don’t even have to keep track of your health. Even better, there is no undignified death waiting at every corner.
You play a clearly harebrained kid who, upon hearing stories of a neighboring kingdom called Frome where only very few people have apparently returned from, decides to take it upon yourself to pay that place a visit. It isn’t long before you are captured even before you manage to spend three seconds enjoying rarefied Frome oxygen. The Castle of Frame is a campaign where you try to escape from the castle, the first stage of four in your plan to go home.
This one tries to spice things up by having you locate a secret passage out of the castle and discover the correct password that will allow you to past through this passage. How can a passage be considered a secret if the king posts two guards to keep people from using this passage, I will never know. In fact, when I discover the location of the secret passage, I have to stop myself from slapping my hand hard against my forehead because the location doesn’t make sense considering the proximity of the passage to… well, I’ll let you figure that one out yourself.
Okay, that doesn’t make much sense, but then again, the campaign doesn’t even try to make it hard on you. Guards may arrest you, but they are so inept that you can always escape without making much effort in the process. There are so many allies in the castle who will aid you, it’s a wonder how the king has any friends. The castle isn’t an interesting place, as the descriptions of the rooms are pretty nondescript and there really isn’t anything you can do other than to play by Mr Packard’s tightly regimented script. You’re basically wandering around the same few places until you locate the correct path after some time, and there is not much replay value here.
Then again, I probably shouldn’t expect more from a campaign that takes place only because the player’s character is an idiot.
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