As a kid, I devoured Choose Your Own Adventure books, R. L. Stine’s Badlands/Invaders of Hark series, and especially the Lone Wolf gamebooks. Today, the adventure gamebook genre is enjoying a comeback and Studio 9 is contributing to that with its new three-part series The Midnight Legion and its kickstarter.
In the first book, Operation Deep Sleep, you create a character by tailoring three central stats (Physical Conditioning, Stealth, and Sixth Sense). You then awaken devoid of your memories in an unfamiliar, post-apocalyptic environment. The action begins immediately as you struggle to escape, fight off dangerous foes, search for helpful items, and solve puzzles to complete your mission.
This series expands upon the old paragraph-based game by introducing a separate memory book containing all the missing info in your character’s noggin. As the game progresses, you are awarded points that allow you to access those memories. Does that junction in the corridor seem familiar to you? Do you remember how to use this strange weapon you’ve come across? By judiciously spending memory points, your character will develop along a unique path according to choices – and the consequences of those choices – that you make.
The world of The Midnight Legion is wrought with danger and combat occurs around every corner. A simple, but effective, dice system allows you to quickly resolve fights against rat-men or mutant plants. If you find yourself about to be beaten by a killer robot, you can always spend energy points to augment your rolls. Run out of energy, however, and you may find yourself at the business end of an electro-pike when you least expect it! On the other hand, you could choose to try to slip by foes using your Stealth (assuming you created your character with that in mind).
This game is filled with mechanics and details that bring the story to life. If you encounter particular locations or items, for example, you’ll gain Insights that can open new paths to you later on. Or perhaps you can use your Sixth Sense to see what the results of a particular choice will be (instead of cheating by bookmarking the page and looking ahead like I did years ago…) A sealed map, which you may discover at some point on your adventure, tantalizes you from the moment you start the game. Don’t open it until instructed! The artwork spread throughout the gamebook augments your imagination in an unobtrusive way. When you meet a cyclopean beggar, you’ll know the exact shade of his one eyeball. Also, what his sandwich looks like.
If you have fond memories of being a kid and choosing your own adventure, or if you’re looking to just blast some rat people into oblivion, check out Studio 9’s kickstarter for The Midnight Legion. This game is ideal for anyone wanting a solo roleplaying experience or even for parents who want to introduce their kids to gaming (and maybe hook them on reading at the same time).