Red Fox, £4.99, ISBN 0-09-951250-5
The Dungeons of Torgar is the tenth gamebook in the Lone Wolf series. This review contains spoilers of the events that happened at the end of the previous gamebook, The Cauldron of Fear, so skip this review and turn back to the previous page if you choose to remain unspoiled.
Now, as Lone Wolf, in the last gamebook you have not only succeeded in retrieving the Lorestone of Zaryx from the depths of Tahou, you have also helped defend the capital city of the Republic of Anari by defeating Zakhan Kimah, your old nemesis who had personally led the Vassagonian armies in an invasion on the rest of Northern Magnamund, attacking in a pincer arrangement with the armies of the Darklands. However, no sooner than you have dealt the Zakhan the death blow in a near-impossible combat (oh yes, talk about the combat with that one freaking boss), you hear personally from Darklord Gnaag that he has the remaining three Lorestones in his grasp. He has them placed in the dark city of Torgar and he pretty much challenges you to come get them yourself.
In The Dungeons of Torgar, you are going to do just that. However, you can’t just fly in on Banedon’s skyship and kick rear ends in Torgar just like that. We need an excuse to keep the campaign going a little longer, after all. So in this one, despite the fact that Gnaag is expecting you in Torgar, Banedon disguises himself as you and takes off in his skyship back to Holmgard. Hmm, wonder whether Gnaag is fooled… Meanwhile, you arrive in the kingdom of Eru. Eru is another generic high fantasy kingdom, its only distinguishing feature being that it boasts its own poor man’s version of the Danarg, called the Hellswamp.
Torgar is located at the northern region just above the border of Eru, but at the moment, there is pure chaos in the areas separating you and Torgar. The armies of Eru and the neighboring country of Lencia have joined forces to repel the armies of Baron Shinzar of Cetza from wrecking havoc further in Eru. Incidentally, one of the Lorestones you seek was hidden in Luomi, the capital of Eru that has been until recently overrun by the armies from the Hammerlands – which explains how Gnaag managed to get his hands on that Lorestone.
You have two courses of action available to you at this point. You can disguise yourself as an Eruan Pathfinder and cross the war-torn terrains to look for Sebb Jarel, the leader of a band of partisans putting up a fight against the enemy forces, in Pirsi and convince him to guide you through the Hellswamp to Torgar. You can also take part in the fight against Baron Shinzar’s army in Cetza. If the forces of Eru and Lencia triumph, the path ahead to Torgar will be cleared and you can happily make your way up north to Torgar. So what will it be?
Both paths have their share of dangers and potential suicidal battles, but thankfully, there is no one true path to Torgar here. Therefore, you get ample replay value here as you can safely explore all the choices available to you here. Don’t miss out an opportunity to visit the Isle of Ghosts – there is an entertaining if dangerous reunion with an old friend that you will definitely enjoy, heh.
The Dungeons of Torgar boasts its share of tough combat encounters, but fortunately, none is as insane as the battle with Zakhan Kimah. But as with the previous gamebook, this one is going to be very tough for the daring new player who is starting the series with this gamebook. Having only three Magnakai skills at one’s disposal and lacking buffs from Lore Circles and improved Magnakai training levels will make this campaign a… well, very challenging one, let’s just say. Of course, cheating is always an option, but we all are above such antics, aren’t we? Heh.
The campaign feels very rushed once you reach Torgar, because it’s like, you blink and then, whoa, the whole thing’s over. But you won’t be complaining, I suspect, because Mr Dever sneakily ensures that your mouth is gaping open in horror at the gripping cliffhanger ending of this campaign where it seems as if all is indeed lost. Indeed, if you opt to choose one particular path, the whole campaign will be a bleak one full of unnecessary losses of lives and an apparent death to hope, while the other option is a little bit more uplifting. Throughout the whole campaign, no matter which path you choose, the storytelling element is solid. The NPCs are a bit shallow, but given the frantic pace you are making to retrieve the Lorestones in Torgar, perhaps it is too much to expect more from the characterization department.
The Dungeons of Torgar is definitely an exciting entry in the Lone Wolf series.