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Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review: Choose your own iOS app-venture

Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review for iOS: Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone’s classic 1982 Fighting Fantasy gamebook has been updated for the iPad age. We review the iOS version of Warlock of Firetop Mountain, a tough adventure game with all-new fighting mechanics but the same old gameplay we know and love.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review: Blast from the past

As massive (and ageing) geeks, we’re already big fans of the Sorcery! series of apps, which brought to life those classic choose-your-own-adventure books of our childhood. Gone are the dice and pencils and black and white sketches of terrifying monsters that lurk in the dark. Sorcery! introduced rejiggered combat systems, gorgeous animations and a choice of difficulty levels to welcome more casual gamers to the fold.

Now it’s time to go back to where it all began, with the iOS remaster of Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Jackson and Livingstone’s original Fighting Fantasy gamebook hit stores in 1982 and pitted us spotty-faced bedroom dwellers against a horde of goblins, skeletons and other gribblies. The ultimate objective was to take down the titular Warlock and nick his treasure. But the adventure was so tough that few made it to the end without the odd bit of sneaky peeking and dice nudging.

Sadly such cheating techniques are no longer possible with the iPhone and iPad version, freshly launched on the App Store today. However, what you do get is some fantastic tabletop-inspired visuals, revamped fighting mechanics and the same nerdy adventuring that we still very much love. Here’s our full Warlock of Firetop Mountain review for iOS.

As a side-note, you can pick up some of the Sorcery! titles for free via Amazon Underground, which is well worth doing if you haven’t played these awesome games already.

Read next: Best adventure games for iPhone and iPad

Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review: What’s new in this iOS version?

FF fans will recognise the Warlock of Firetop Mountain’s adventuring chops as soon as they load the app. The core game remains the same, but now everything plays out with stunning visuals and virtual dice throws.

While the bulk of the gameplay still involves reading text descriptions and choosing your next move from a list of options, the overall presentation is bang up to date. The game world is laid out in real time as you move about, with new rooms and corridors literally dropping into place on the screen. It’s as if you’re playing a game of Hero Quest, complete with figurines and model furniture.

The original book sketches have also been revamped with a shot of colour and expert detailing, so they look better than ever. Best of all, you can switch between the retro and modern versions with a quick tap.

As before, you must make wise decisions as you explore the mountain and its trap-filled halls. You can pick up nuggets of information from other characters, hunt for potions and other essential items, and search the bodies of your fallen foes for gold. But quite often you’ll find yourself locked in combat, fighting for your life.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review: Battle time

In these scenarios, the game switches to an up-close view of the room you’re in. Your character and the enemy characters are again represented by figurines and you must take it in turns to move across the ‘board’ and attack.

This is where the Warlock of Firetop Mountain introduces its tense new strategic battle system. Each character and enemy has their own special attacks, which cause damage to anyone stood in certain squares. By learning your enemy’s attacks, you can predict their next move and try to get out of the way or counter-attack. This results in a roll of the virtual dice to see who comes out on top (and yes, you can virtually nudge the die just one time per round, if needed).

We really like the new battle system, which introduces a fresh level of skill compared with the old dice-throwing effort. Occasionally these battles can be frustrating if you find yourself surrounded by five or more creatures all hell-bent on your destruction, with no way to avoid their relentless blows. And the enemy AI can definitely be described as ‘sketchy’ at times. But these fighting mini-games are a welcome break from the text and multiple choice scenarios.

You get three chances to start over if you die, which is just as well because Warlock of Firetop Mountain is tough as nails. I had to restart two times while reviewing and still didn’t manage to finish the game, even learning from previous mistakes. Patience is certainly a virtue.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review: UK release

Warlock of Firetop Mountain on iOS is available to download from today, from Apple’s App Store, for iPhone and iPad. The game costs $4.99 in the US, which we expect to translate to £3.99 here in the UK.

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