Demons of the Deep (1986)

Skipping ahead a bit to Fighting Fantasy 15, Demons of the Deep (1986). I think it is my favorite of Steve Jackson’s (the American) contributions to the series, which is maybe surprising as I don’t generally enjoy underwater adventures. My all-time fave is Eye of the Dragon though, which has a lot of water in it, so maybe what they say about there being a thin line between love and hate is true after all. One thing’s for certain: there is absolutely no indication in the book that this Steve Jackson is not the UK Steve Jackson, which I will never not find amusing.

This one was among the first FFs I ever got (from the World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, RIP, on a mind-blowing family trip in 1990) and that perhaps accounts for some of my fondness. I do think it is a solid entry in the series, though, nostalgia aside. In contrast to Ian Livingstone’s linear books, this feels very open for exploration in any given direction. Pitched overboard by pirates, you’re saved by magically grown gills. Underwater, you to meet mer-people, deep ones, sea demons, dragons and more on your quest to gather black pearls and have your revenge on the pirates.

Thanks to the openness and the relatively low difficulty, you can play through successfully while only experiencing a fraction of the encounters. That keeps the things fresh for multiple playthroughs and, honestly, gives the book a real sense of exploration. There is probably one optimal path, but that’s not really a concern here. I dig it. Not many FFs feel so free.

Interiors by Bob Harvey, who I am not super familiar with. His illustrations were so formative to my FF experience, though, that they buzz a little more for me than maybe they do for anyone else. That’s OK though. Cover by my man, Les Edwards. Les rules, and this painting is an all-timer as far as I’m concerned. King bone demon of the sea!

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