“The Legendary Journey Series” is a series of (so far) two gamebooks written by Randy R. Cook, with some unusual characteristics. They try to replicate the experience of the old text adventures of the 80s. Those who had an 8-bit computer back at the time will know which ones I am talking about: text adventures, where we had to explore locations, take every object that wasn’t nailed down and use it in the right place in order to win the game.
There is something very tempting about 80s nostalgia. It’s good that new, more complex and grown-up stories are being written, but sometimes we want to get in touch again with the teenager inside us, the one that didn’t care much about such things are “storytelling” or “character development”, and just wanted to have fun saving (again) the kingdom from an ultimate evil, or stopping (again) the alien invasion on Earth. They were simpler, gentler times, and there is a good reason why we keep returning to those stories over and over. They are comforting. They make us remember who we were. And that is exactly the kind of nostalgia that these two gamebooks aim for.
In “Castle Darkholm” you take the role of the Champion, a hero sent by the high council to stop a vampire from taking over the world. As in the other book in this series, you have to solve puzzles in order to find the resting place of the vampire and defeat him for good. The gamebook has a warning: “Content Advisory: This is a gothic horror story and contains examples of blood, gore and intense violence and may not be suitable for some readers.” Which makes it seem to have a more adult content than it has. Think of the same kind of horror as the old Roger Corman or Hammer movies: classic horror with some descriptions of gore. Nothing too original, but good old fun nonetheless.
“The Vortex” has a much more interesting story. We are thrown into some strange alien ruins, with very little background story, and the more we explore, the better idea we will have about who we are and what are our objectives. We will finally discover that we have inadvertently unleashed some powerful alien technology that will destroy the universe as we know it, and of course, our mission will be to stop it. This one reminded me a bit of the 90s graphic adventure “The Dig“, and even earlier than that, to the old “Strange Odyssey” text adventure from 1981, with all its weird and dangerous alien technology. As the previous title, nothing too original, but fun to read and play.
These two books are not going to change the world, but for those who miss the text adventures of yore, they are the right kind of nostalgia. And they have some very uncommon (for gamebooks) puzzle and inventory mechanics. So, for 5 dollars each of them, why not to give them a try?