‘Insane megalomaniac Gingrich Yurr is preparing to unleash an army of monstrous zombies upon the world. He must be stopped and his undead horde defeated. In this life-or-death adventure the decisions YOU make will decide the fate of the world. Can YOU survive or will YOU become a zombie too?’
Before I get going – SPOILERS. BEWARE OF THEM.
Zombies, then. I’m a zombie fan, but I have to admit to being a little reserved with my enthusiasm when I heard that the new Fighting Fantasy book would be zombie themed. The ‘genre’ has become so saturated over the past decade, a resurgence that seemed to spark from the first Resident Evil game, I wasn’t sure if I wanted zombies again. Especially as I tended to prefer the books with a fantasy setting. But as Ian Livingstone points out in his intro, it isn’t something that Fight Fantasy has delved into before, so it’s fair enough I suppose. In terms of bringing the books to a modern audience, I suppose it makes sense as well. I’m talking myself round as I type really!
The nature of the enemies you face shapes the combat of the game, zombies rely on weight of numbers, so they are all given 1 Stamina point each and you are told how many you will face, your weapon choice and subsequent dice rolls dictating how many you kill. The remaining zombies after each attack round each then do 1 Stamina damage. Similarly streamlined are the stats, only Stamina remains, Skill and Luck are sadly gone. But I have to admit that I did always seem to end up with 12/24/12 back in the day for every single book… funny that, huh? The Adventure Sheets are now located in the back of the book, and you get three of them, but no self respecting player would ever mark his book! Suffice to say, I would always scribble in them as a kid, rubbing out holes in the paper as I adjusted my inventory and stats. I always remember teaching a cousin of mine how to play the books, on telling him to ‘put a sword in your item box’ he actually drew a sword as opposed to writing the word, did anyone else do it visually? It never occurred to me to do it that way! Other than that though, the set-up is very familiar, a short Background section before the first page, the art in particular is in keeping with the black & white style of the past covering full page pictures as well as incidental art splitting up the ‘pages’. Also, I was overjoyed to see a nice green spine!
I decided to keep a map for my run-through and I will scan in a copy when I’m done, I have never done this before, that doesn’t mean I intend to plunder every corner, but I’ve enjoyed the sense of progress it has given me so far. It’s also going to help me remember exactly what I did!
The plot starts simply enough; you are a student investigating the potential existence of various mythical creatures around the world and end up being kidnapped in Transylvania whilst asking the locals questions about vampires. Blind-folded and chained, you’re left in a dark cell deep in Goraya Castle, told simply by the guard, Otto, that a man named Gingrich Yurr is going to kill you. This is where the adventure begins.
Managing to catch Otto off-guard as he brought me food, I made my escape by overpowering him and leaving him in the chains that held me. I wasn’t able to get much information out of him though, he seemed a little dim, just the hired muscle and wasn’t able to shed light on my current predicament. I discovered his room outside, eat his dinner, stole his money and most of his belongings, including a Jimi Hendrix bag. Otto wasn’t such a bad guy, I felt a little sorry for him. Although he had been kicking me in the gut a lot. Unfortunately, this wasn’t how it went the first time round. We’ve all held the corner of a page and looked ahead to see if instant death awaits us, and yes, I made the decision to aim a kick at Otto’s head instead of his body, missed, and ended up getting kicked to pieces before ending up being turned into a zombie. But we aren’t going to be restarting books for this kind of thing now are we?
Following my escape, I found a small storage room where I was confronted by two men. Given my current predicament, I decided neither fight or flight was the option and tried to talk my way out of this. This pair revealed themselves to be not entirely unfriendly, Boris and Gregor were their names and after greasing their palms with Ottos hard-earned money they told me even more. A relatively lengthy section describes the situation; Yurr is an insane megalomaniac who wants to destroy mankind for his own amusement by turning everyone into a zombie by exposing them to his specially created mutated human gene. Only humans in a weakened state will succumb to this and become zombies after the blood containing the gene has entered their system. You were one of many who have been left to deteriorate in a cell until in a state where you are vulnerable. Boris suggests that Yurr will eventually become a zombie himself and lead his army of followers against the world. Boris and Gregor want out, they didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for and hope to get out with the help of Yurr’s scientists before they are turned to the undead themselves.
The only way to stop this, Boris told me, was to kill every single zombie in the castle. Clued up and carrying a few choice items, I headed off into the the depths of Goraya Castle to see if I could get started on this task.