Version Reviewed: 1.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Narborion Saga is a fantasy-themed gamebook in which players live out an adventure as a newly anointed page to the Royal Champion on their first adventure. While it presents a little bit of jank in the form of some plotholes it's still a pretty entertaining experience, which is more than I was expecting for a narrative-heavy freemium game.
Players don't so much play Narborion Saga as they do read and make decisions. Players are thrust directly into the world and are presented with several scenarios; some of which require some decision making, some of which don't. In addition, there are some puzzle solving moments in the story, as well as some good old fashioned inventory management and dice-based combat.
Players familiar with Dungeons & Dragons will feel right at home in Narborion Saga, as the game feels a bit like having a readily accessible dungeon master on-the-go at all times. The only time this really falls apart is when the game occasionally doesn't realize the exact path a player has taken, resulting in some passages that don't quite mesh with the story that came before it. In the grand scheme of things, Narborion Saga doesn't present such a huge expanse of decisions that alter the entire course of the overall narrative, so these moments are only minor blips that can be befuddling but certainly not experience-breaking.
As somewhat of a digital choose-your-own-adventure novel, Narborion Saga presents the ability to bookmark progress, which is the equivalent of players keeping their fingers in between pages to explore possible outcomes from a particular decision. These bookmarks can be purchased with gold, which can either be earned while adventuring or by paying with cash. If players opt to not buy bookmarks, their progress is completely lost if they die. However, given the simple gameplay it's usually pretty easy to breeze through the early sections and back up to where they were. That being said, some sections of travel are gated by time, which can also be purchased to bypass, so players may still need to weigh their options for fear of having to slog through progress gates.
Narborion Saga may not be a new form of game, but its specific narrative is one that gamebook fans will probably enjoy. It isn't perfect, and it probably won't win over anyone that isn't already on board with the idea of reading a bunch, but it's perfectly enjoyable in its own right.