Flight from the Dark (1984)

This was long overdue, both for the posting on the feed and for me personally. It has been like, I dunno, 30 years since I read this? Anyway, this is the first Lone Wolf adventure gamebook, Flight from the Dark (1984). But you probably knew that already. The series is massively successful and influential, probably second only to Fighting Fantasy, and FF only really gets the edge for establishing the form.

Like FF, Lone Wolf incorporates RPG elements. The systems are a bit simpler, I think. Combat uses random numbers to resolve — it seems like a pain but once you get the knack, it’s far faster and more frenzied than FF (and you can, I believe, get through the book with out a single fight, which is cool). More interesting is the inventory system, which allows you to manage a backpack of stuff, and the skill system, which give you special benefits or open new paths in the story. As you progress, you can gain or improve those skills, which leads us to the neatest part: the first twelve books in the series are a continuing story, so the character you have at the end of one is the one you start with in the next volume. That makes all your decisions seem so much more weighty than in most gamebooks. (even though, in practice, that is mostly sleight of hand).

Returning to this book after so long…it’s OK? A little stiff, a little unsure of itself. You’re a warrior monk. You monastery gets attacked and you’re the only survivor. You gotta go warn the king. Simple. It feels neither too easy nor too hard. At this moment in the series, though, I think the main appeal is Gary Chalk’s art, which feels so in line with the Games Workshop vibe (more on that later in the week). There’s some real classics in this book — I think my fave is the dude on the flying beast.

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