Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Gates of Death

Remember how I started the last entry, for The Port of Peril?

Of course you do, you read this blog every day.

The _____ of _____. It's back for this latest entry in the Fighting Fantasy series, the first all-new title in what must be the 400th relaunch of the franchise - The Gates of Death.

The new cover designs are awful, but if The Gates of Death is a sign of what's to come for the series, it appears to be in good hands (not evil hands, like those things in the Warlock PC adaptation. Good game though.)

The premise is pretty generic - there's a disease spreading across Allansia that's turning everyone into zombie-like demons - but within those confines, it appears author Charlie Higson has created a late-era classic.

I say 'it appears', as opposed to 'has', for the usual reason - I died. Probably early. Didn't help that you begin the adventure not only with no food and no weapons, but lose five STAMINA points in the first f**king paragraph.

That's the most brutal opening sequence since Up.

He waited decades for a sequel to Robot Commando, but it never came.
My mission to rid Allansia of this plague took me to the court of Lord Azzur, on a coach ride with a couple of women who didn't mind picking up a hitch-hiking stranger carrying an ancient Egyptian weapon, and into a town with literal purple rain.

If you would like to party, turn to 1999.
Having failed to complete the book, I'm not yet sure if this is a Livingstone-style fetch-quest ('If you have a frog in your pocket, turn to...' This actually happened) or an inscrutable Jackson puzzle. It seems like the former, but with twists, like the 'Nostalgia' perfume, which acts like a videogame restore point, and weapons which have varied effects on Attack Strength and damage.

Very early on I was being asked if I had certain items, which suggested various paths are on offer right from the very beginning.

For the record, I died after a big spend-up in Salamonis - that town with the purple rain. I can't remember if any of the shopkeepers were selling winged boots, but if you see them on the shelf, grab them. Trust me.

(Seriously, I can't get over the purple rain thing. I'm on a massive Prince buzz at the moment - I've spent half the day today playing with a software emulation of the LM-1 drum machine that underpins most of his classic music, and am half-watching a live gig on YouTube from 1985 as I type - and for this book to arrive in my letterbox, with this scene in it, is weirding me out.)

At least the author's name is on the cover, I guess.
This time around, there will be no Emancipation for Allansia. No victory Parade for me. Something something Batman.

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