Roll the dice and kill a Dragon.
The classic fantasy adventure board game has now been faithfully recreated on the PC by Nomad Games Limited, giving PC gamers a chance to play the board game that, despite its age, still has a faithful following now.
Many of the games that we grew up with have made their way into the videogame market. From the real oldies such as Monopoly, through to games that seemed to explode overnight, such as Magic: The Gathering. Talisman is a board game that will likely have a fond place in the hearts of many a gamer, especially if they moved in the circles of games such as AD&D or the original Warhammer tabletop wargame. Indeed, if the gamer was already familiar with the products of Games Workshop, then Talisman would have most certainly been on their radar.
It came from a time before the massive popularity of super-complex board games, a time when only a certain mind set would be happy to spend several hours with their buddies playing a single game. It was also a time before the home consoles really made their mark and video gamers where stuck with the likes of the Commodore 64 or the Amstrad CPC464 (my own weapon of choice). They were simpler times.
But enough reminiscing, even though I feel that one of the main appeals of Talisman Digital Edition will be the nostalgia. The objective in Talisman is surprisingly simple – the player moves around the board in an attempt to claim the Crown of Command and destroy the other players. That’s not too difficult, is it?
The reality is that the players (up to four players, with as many as three of them controlled by the AI if needed) will need to make their way around the outer ring of the board until they are powerful enough to cross the river and face what awaits them in the second ring (unless they manage to find another way across the river). Then they will need to get to the very middle of the board, having already picked themselves up a Talisman along the way.
While making their way around the various rings of the board, in either direction by way of a dice roll, the different squares of the board will have different effects. Most of the time, the player will find themselves drawing an encounter card that might reward them with treasure, a magic weapon, or a follower. Other times there may be an “NPC” type card that will remain on that square and generally have the player roll a dice for a range of different effects. Then there are the monster cards that will force the player into a fight. Defeated monsters are taken as trophies and can be traded for stat improvements, which gives the fighting a nice risk/reward feel.
The basic game gives the player a choice of 14 different characters to play the game as, each with their own stats and strengths/weaknesses. Whilst one may have a high strength and be able to take more followers with them on their journey, another may be more powerful in craft and thus be able to cast spells. Each of the 14 different characters plays slightly differently, and players will find themselves gravitating towards one or two and mastering strategies with them.
Combat, be it strength or craft based, is fairly straight forward and revolves around rolling a dice and adding that to the appropriate stat, with the highest winning. There are exceptions to the rule, such as some characters get to roll two dice and choose the highest, and the items that the player is carrying or the followers they have can also affect the outcome. But the joy of playing a digital version of the game is that you don’t have to think too hard or keep track of stuff like that, and can concentrate on the important stuff, such as winning.
There is a surprising amount of depth to the game, and a narrative can easily unfold in the players mind. The variety of the cards give each game a different direction for your hero, which keeps everything fresh. However, the game really does take a fair while to play, which may be off putting for some gamers. Even the original board game had a tendency to drag on, with many games being abandoned before the conclusion. There could have been a few improvements to this digital version to make things a bit quicker, like the constant having to click everything. But the time taken for a single game is at least authentic.
Visually, the game looks good. Everything is nicely replicated from the board game. It would have been nice to have a bit more animation in the game, perhaps showing off some of the wizardry of videogames in this digital board game. But overall, there is nothing to complain about.
The great thing about Talisman Digital Edition is, if you enjoy the game, that it is going to keep getting bigger and better with the aggressive release of expansion packs. These expansions bring a lot to the game, with new characters, adventure cards, spell cards and quest cards all making sure the game stays fresh.
Talisman Digital Edition, which is also available as a retail Collector’s Edition from Merge Games (which includes two keys for the game, Talisman Prologue and The Reaper expansion), is an authentic digital version of the classic board game that has obviously been created by loving fans. However, digital board games are not for everyone, and Talisman Digital Edition does tend to drag on for longer than most. I think this will be one for the fans, but newcomers who give the game a chance and can deal with the relatively slow pace may well find the minutes turn into hours as they continue on their quest.