The Fighting Fantasy series of books, created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, were a staple of 1980s solo roleplaying. With simple rules and basic character creation (roll two dice for your stamina, etc) the meat of each book comprised 400 numbered paragraphs. Starting at paragraph 1 you, THE HERO, starred in your own adventure, following instructions to turn to different paragraphs. Success or swift death depended on your choices and the outcome of battles and luck rolls.
My old copies of a handful of the 50-something books has long since decayed in a damp attic. But I recently came across “Fighting Fantasy Classics“, an app version by Tin Man Games featuring a slowly growing library of favourites from the series. After some research into “best of…” lists, I decided to buy a copy of House of Hell, the 10th book in the series, and give it a whirl.
This was supposed to be an analysis of Beyond a Steel Sky, Revolution Software’s newly released sequel to their 1990s cyberpunk thriller Beneath a Steel Sky. But BeyASS is a buggy mess. And though it has now been patched enough that I could play it beginning to end, it’s not yet sufficiently fixed to warrant playing a second time or do a full analysis. I’ll wait for a few more patches come out.
In the meantime, I went back to BenASS to see how it compares. Is Beneath a Steel Sky really the classic it’s held up to be? I’ll be analysing its structure using four Puzzle Dependency Charts that map out the whole game.
Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders is a Kickstarter-backed point-and-click adventure game. After reaching its funding target in March 2015, the game was finally released in May 2019.
Unusually for me, I picked up a copy almost immediately after release. It was on offer on Steam and looked interesting, with the promise of a detective adventure requiring the player to deduce the identity of the killer.
I didn’t get what I was promised, the deduction mechanic obviously being shaved down to almost nothing over the 5-year production cycle. But Detective Di is an otherwise well-polished game, with engaging story and characters, and a few interesting puzzles to while away a couple of long evenings. Overall: 3 out of 5.
Shame on me for failing to post anything for over a year. I’ve been working on some puzzles and ideas of my own, but have nothing to reveal yet. As part of that work, I’ve been expanding my knowledge of Puzzle Dependency Charts so will instead share some information about them, including two full charts for LucasArts flawed masterpiece, The Dig.
Puzzle Dependency Charts (or Graphs, or Diagrams) are an excellent tool for designing and refining interconnected puzzles. Online discussions usually focus on their use in the classic LucasArts adventure games since Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame developed them to help design his games. But they are not limited to computer games and would be helpful for designing physical Escape Rooms or any multi-stage puzzle.