App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Fighting Fantasy Legends is a gamebook of sorts, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. It continues the trend set by games like The Warlock of Firetop Mountain where the narrative elements of a gamebook are woven pretty seamlessly into fun and engaging (though light) role-playing game mechanics. It's definitely not a game that will be everyone's cup of tea, but Fighting Fantasy Legends is remarkable and fascinating nonetheless.
Playing Fighting Fantasy Legends is like playing a mash-up of a choose-your-own adventure book and a dungeon-crawler. You take control of a hero from a top-down perspective, and wander between towns and dungeons and get into all sorts of scenarios in both. Most of the time, you're simply choosing which way your character should go, but this ultimately determines the people they meet, the enemies they face, and the treasures they can potentially find. Upon coming across these kinds of events, most of them are resolved either through dialogue, or some test of skill or luck.
The skill and luck tests are where Fighting Fantasy feels most like a role-playing game. Both luck and skill are actual attributes for your character, and outcomes for skill and luck-based events are determined by rolling your skill and luck dice. As you play Fighting Fantasy Legends, you'll earn experience and level up, which allows you to upgrade your skill or luck dice to increase your chances of passing these events.
A fighting chance
The skill and luck stats for Fighting Fantasy Legends may sound pretty rudimentary to seasoned RPG players, but it's a system that works surprisingly well. Everything from combat, bashing doors, and even avoiding traps uses dice rolls for these two attributes, and it all just feels natural.
At certain points in the beginning of the game, the dice rolling in Fighting Fantasy Legends can make the whole experience feel a little too luck-based, but this fades the further you get into the game. Part of this has to do with how leveling up reduces your chances of missing on rolls, but a lot of it also has to do with learning the game's systems and how to prepare for certain kinds of confrontation.
No matter how consistent your dice-rolling gets though, Fighting Fantasy Legends is a game where you'll most likely die… a lot. Enemies can stack up on you before you've had a chance to heal, you can make a bad saving throw on a trap, or you could simply choose to go through a door that has a spectral being that smites you as soon as you encounter it. This could be a frustrating thing if Fighting Fantasy Legends were like other RPG's, but luckily, this game seems built around the knowledge that players will die a lot playing it.
As a result, the penalties for death in Fighting Fantasy Legends are rather small, and the knowledge you gain from your deaths is invaluable for beating the game. If you ever die, you simply wake up outside of whatever area you were in with reduced health and a (treatable) injury, but you also know a bit more about how to take the ideal or alternate path through a town or dungeon. It's an ingenious system that gives players the freedom to explore and see all of the great narrative components and branching paths of Fighting Fantasy Legends while also retaining some amount of challenge. It (unfortunately) also means that you might play a bunch of the same sections repeatedly, but every attempt manages to feel different enough so as to not seem too tedious.
The bottom line
There are some small issues with Fighting Fantasy Legends (dying a lot can make things repetitive, RPG mechanics are perhaps too simple, etc.), but these issues are also part of what makes the game so great. Fighting Fantasy Legends is a fantastic game precisely because of its unique blend of gamebook and RPG mechanics, not in spite of them. So, when the game gets updated with new quests and content, I know I'll be looking forward to picking it up again.