“Get the board down, choose your character, and throw the die. Now, in front of the screen”
Let me say this at the beginning: I liked Talisman. A lot. It’s not a game for everyone. And now I will state the obvious. That’s the reality for every game in history of the videogames or games at all. Every “Call of Duty” is taught and developed with just a couple of focus groups in mind, and they become huge successes. Every Super Mario, Need For Speed, Uncharted and Halo. All of them are developed on the idea of reaching a certain generation, niche or sector of the population. You can’t have them all. You won’t. When a game is superb (or has an enormous amount of PR and publicity), it breaks those walls itself.
Now, I’m not trying to insert Talisman in that bunch. It isn’t. But it is certainly not in the “board games turned into videogames” either. Talisman does not walk alongside “Monopoly” or “Scrabble”. Because, as a board game, is bigger and insightful.
No, Talisman hangs out in the same street of a lot of videogames that mix RPG elements with the warm basements of the nerd culture. It’s something in between the grey area that involves awesome hits like “Magic” and his goofy nephew “Hearthstone” without being a card game (or not precisely, because there’s a lot of cards in there, my man). It stays true to his essence, and it works well a worthy adaptation.
Talisman – Digital Edition
Robert Harris is a Scottish writer that gathered with Games Workshop to develop the “Talisman: The Magical Quest” board game. Games Workshop is the British company behind “Warhammer” and “Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game”, so… not exactly noobs. Back in ’83, there was an explosion of these games thanks to the success of Dungeons & Dragons and of course the “Lord of the Rings” novels. If you add “Conan: The Barbarian” to that calculus, you get a ton of heroic fantasy that crumbled nerdy minds. Hey, I hate “Revenge of the Nerds”, but part of the subject is well established. There’s no better time for being a nerd than now. Now is cool. Every moron down the street thinks he is a huge nerd, and that’s fine, but the seed of this present was planted more than thirty years ago, and Talisman was part of that.
Now, I couldn’t actually play the board game. It’s not easy to get, and by divine creation, the videogame it’s pretty much the same experience, with the difference that in real life throwing the die is an act of random, and in this videogame, it appears not. You don’t know how much I’m cursing in my playtime. The AI controlled players always get the numbers they need. I always get the ones that get my hero crushed by whatever vermin summons in the way. Is not faaaair moooom!
As you already found out, Talisman is an RPG board game translated to Videogame. The scenery is what you can expect: The board, with a cool selective 3D effect that follows the character at the turn, and a heroic tune on the back. After you choose your character of fifteen available out of forty-five (the rest can be bought via Steam), each one with different stats –Strength, Craft, Life, Destiny and Gold- you go straight to the game. The board is the basic one and includes every aspect of regular RPG fantasy map: forests, hills, fields, ruins, a temple, a cemetery, among others. You throw the virtual die and you choose which way to go. The board is divided in three concentric regions (well, is rectangular, but you know what I mean), and for trespassing each one of them, Outer, Middle and Inner, you must achieve specific goals and tasks. And some of them are way too hard… like that FREAKING Sentinel. In every normal tile you fall you must pick up “Adventure Cards” that are completely random. You may get some gold, or you can get a bitchy Devil that utterly rapes your Druid. Neat. If the card you get is an enemy you can plead automatic loss, or you may fight and that –like any other RPG- is solved by die throwing and the Spell cards, Objects or Followers you have collected. So you click the die and seriously hope that the number it comes be high enough. Summed with your strength, if the value is higher than the one your rival gets, you conquer the beautiful win. The board has special tiles, like the Temple, the City, the Tavern, and The Village where you can play mini-games that allows you to recover your lives or gain gold. All for the purpose of getting to the “Crown of Command”, the mighty weapon that overpowers you to the level of the biggest douche in the neighborhood. A sweet purpose indeed that can only be achieved if you get the Talisman that gives the name to the game and come across the bitching Valley of Fire that –if you haven’t level up- is plain D-E-A-D my friend. And that means… going back to the beginning from scratch.
Talisman is a somewhat unfair game. It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s simple enough to be understood in three minutes. But is unfair still. The algorithm for the random digit you get after throwing the die must be revised. I don’t want the game to be nerfed but it’s so much of a pain in the ass to keep losing against the AI only because I always get the number that makes me lose or transform into a Toad. I suppose that this digital edition of Talisman was created mostly for the online multiplayer, because that’s when unfairness becomes so much of a thrill. “Battletoads” level of injustice.
Nevertheless, I honor my word. I like the game in both versions, online and single player. It dignifies his noble past and the history of role playing games and every fan of this genre should give it a try. The Talisman – Digital Edition current Steam price is 15 US$ but in every sale gets fabulous discounts. A good reason for buying it.
The Gold Pack – at $ 72 in Nomad Site – includes Talisman Prologue – $ 6, 29, the previous installment of the game that only has single player mode, but a bunch of quests to learn the basics. The gold pack also includes the base game Talisman – Digital edition, the Season Pass which also includes all current and future DLC’s and expansion packs to keep you hooked for even a longer time. Right now there are already 8 characters and 5 expansions packs, and you can see at least 5 more characters and expansion packs coming this way.