I dabbled with the Fighting Fantasy books in my younger years, though I’d never say I played them *properly*. I was a bit too young to fully understand how things like combat and stats worked, so I’d happily ensure that my warrior would win battles with ease – just so I could progress through the story (and, of course, be a hero). After playing Fighting Fantasy Legends, a video game that’s based around the story and concept seen in a trilogy of these books, I regret not playing them as they were intended.
I’ll admit from the get-go that Fighting Fantasy Legends isn’t going to appeal to all gamers thanks to its simple (and somewhat dated) setup, but I actually had a really good time on my dice-fuelled adventure.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Fighting Fantasy Legends puts players in the role of an adventurer who is tasked with ridding the land of Allansia from all sorts of threats, including the Lord of the Undead, Warlocks, Dragons… you know… the type of threats you’d expect from a fantasy universe. This means venturing across the world map and visiting varied locales, with each giving the player the freedom to determine which direction they want to go and if they want to explore the points of interest within them. Be warned though: they’re also home to random events, each of which will challenge the player in different ways. There’s gold to be won in varying ways too, which will allow players to barter with traders to get items or, on the flipside, get robbed in wacky circumstances. The life of an adventurer, eh?
Anyone who is familiar with the books will have an idea of how the gameplay of Fighting Fantasy Legends works, with players picking one of three characters and assigning them stats. The stats are based upon skill, luck, and stamina: skill will determine your success in combat, luck will determine your success in the random events that occur in the world, whilst stamina represents your health points. You can add additional points to your skill and luck at the start of the game, though this comes at the expense of your stamina – for every additional point you add to skill or luck, you lose a point of stamina.
“Fighting Fantasy Legends puts players in the role of an adventurer who is tasked with ridding the land of Allansia from all sorts of threats, including the Lord of the Undead, Warlocks, Dragons… you know… the type of threats you’d expect from a fantasy universe.”
It’s a simple system that’s easy to follow, but it will play an important role in the success of your adventure. Players get one die for each point of skill or luck that they have, with those dice then used to determine their success throughout the game. Encounter an enemy? You’ll roll all of your skill dice, with any landing on a success face counting as a blow to your foe’s stamina. Find yourself having to do a luck check to avoid incoming arrows? You’ll roll all of your luck dice, with health taken away from you for any than don’t land on a success face. That’s just a couple of examples of the situations players face where the dice come into play, with each set playing a heavy role throughout Fighting Fantasy Legends’ adventure.
It adds an element of luck to the gameplay, where you can find yourself constantly caught out by traps or not dealing damage to a plucky foe if you’re unlucky. On the flipside, it can also see you overcoming the odds and vanquishing a powerful enemy with one roll, so who knows what will happen? It added to the excitement of the experience for me, with the unpredictability of each situation certainly keeping players on their toes.
“Players get one die for each point of skill or luck that they have, with those dice then used to determine their success throughout the game.”
Your dice can be upgraded by levelling up in-game, with experience points earned by vanquishing enemies or completing quests. When upgraded, a die will have an additional success marker added to one of its faces, increasing your odds of success with each dice roll. It’s good to balance this out across both your skill and luck dice, especially since you’ll face adversity through multiple forms during the course of your journey. If you do end up dying (or have a bad encounter with someone in-game) these dice can end up getting cursed, lowering your chance of success with them until you fix it. It’s all about finding the right person in the right place or having the right item, which is something that’ll be determined by the choices you make when exploring.
Whilst there’s a story to follow in Fighting Fantasy Legends that’s told through a myriad of quests, a lot of its strengths lie within its events – both those that are randomly selected when you hit random event markers, and those which you encounter by exploring specific points of interest. Whilst a lot of these simply lead to battles or test your luck in varying ways, there are also moments where player choice forges the narrative.
“Your dice can be upgraded by levelling up in-game, with experience points earned by vanquishing enemies or completing quests.”
For example, there was one time when I was able to approach a strange woman, who then turned out to have the head of a snake and poisoned me. Drat. Another time, I explored a house that seemed uninhabited, only to find myself attacked by a monster. Double-drat. On another occasion, I destroyed a box in a house and found a golden brooch, which allowed me to automatically pass luck events. Another time I helped a homeless man who was getting attacked by bandits, with my reward being the healing of my HP. See, sometimes good things happen too…
It all adds to the unpredictability of the storytelling, with just about anything seemingly possible in Fighting Fantasy Legends. I won’t spoil anything here, but there’s room for creativity in just about everything you do in the game, with some comical situations arising under the right circumstances. Players can also get individual cards that bring with them different effects, whether it’s magic to help out in a tricky situation or an item that’ll grant you more luck. There are different weapons and armour to equip too, which bring with them additional dice to help out in the midst of battle.
“I won’t spoil anything here, but there’s room for creativity in just about everything you do in the game, with some comical situations arising under the right circumstances.”
A lot of aspects of Fighting Fantasy Legends will feel dated to players, especially with the luck-based dice rolling, but I had a really good time with the game. I loved seeing how different events would pan out, the unpredictability of the battling added a sense of tension as I awaited a good dice roll, whilst the story and world had me completely invested in the adventure. It’s just so addictive to play and I found the hours flying away as I dice-rolled my way to victory.
That being said, there were some aspects of the game that could fall short of the mark. The storytelling is all text-based for example, with just the top-down maps of each area used as a visualisation. Sure, there are illustrations that represent enemies when battling, but it might all feel a little bland for some players. That luck-based combat won’t appeal to everyone either, whilst re-treading some of the same areas because you missed an item you needed the first time around can feel a bit repetitive.
Fighting Fantasy Legends Summary
The luck-based gameplay of Fighting Fantasy Legends won’t appeal to everyone, but I had a really good time embarking on my dice-fuelled adventure. I loved uncovered the world and dealing with the scenarios it put me in, the battling brought plenty of tension thanks to its lucked-based nature, whilst improving my stats and vanquishing deadly foes NEVER stopped being satisfying. It’s all simple in design, but wow, it really managed to hook me in.
It does have its flaws though, with a lot of aspects of the game feeling dated in design and the visuals very bland. These issues didn’t stop me from having a good time playing though, and have left me excited to play other releases in the Fighting Fantasy series.
Publisher: Nomad Games
Developer: Nomad Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC