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Kicking it old school with Fighting Fantasy

Tin Man Games is bringing gamebooks to iOS and Android in a partnership with Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
2 min read

Tin Man Games is bringing gamebooks to iOS and Android in a partnership with Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy.

(Credit: Tin Man Games)

Founded in 2009, Melbourne's Tin Man Games is on a mission: to recapture and revive the choose-your-own-adventure gamebooks of yore.

The team started with publishing new books and last year, made a partnership with Fighting Fantasy to bring out a new book on iOS and Android by Ian Livingston: Blood of the Zombies.

This week, Tin Man Games' second Fighting Fantasy title arrived for both platforms, and it's gone in the other direction. It's a reprint of Steve Jackson's 1984 terrifying title House of Hell, in which you, an unfortunate victim of a broken-down car, must take refuge in — and then survive the mysteries of — a deadly mansion hell-bent on your destruction.

It sounds quite wonderfully B-grade horror, and the story doesn't disappoint, riddled with ghoulies, ghosties and long-legged beasties — but Tin Man has put together a wonderfully engrossing interactive experience.

The first thing we love about it is that it's so intuitive. An in-app dice-roller throws the bones for you (with realistic animation), calculating your stats, and then — this is the important bit — continues to remember and recalculate them. Lose Stamina points? Gain Fear? The app will keep track of those numbers, and the options in the game will be available, or not available, accordingly.

(Credit: Tin Man Games)

It's quite smoothly designed as well: realistic page turns and buttons you can tap to choose your path through the story. Perhaps one caveat would be that, sometimes, they feel a little small for a phone's screen; the game looks and handles much better on a tablet.

We also quite love the illustrations. They're the original ones from the book — coloured to stay in tune with the parchment pages of the book — and if you accidentally tap on one while trying to turn the page, it zooms to fill the screen, which is rather startling when you're already tense from ghosts jumping out at you and zombies trying to chew out your brains.

In all, it has everything we could want from a Fighting Fantasy port: an authentic and smooth experience reminding us of hours spent over paperback pages, a thrilling narrative with just the right amount of fear and that feeling that something is going to leap out of the shadows at any moment.

We can't wait for the next one.

Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell for iOS (AU$6.49)
Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell for Android (AU$5.99)