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Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure (Early Access)

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 3 - 2020

Head into the dungeon with Eddie Marsan.

There is a long history of companies trying to combine video games and movies, but the hybrid genre often comes up short. For gamers, there is too little interaction, while movie fans may find the experience to lack depth. Branching Narrative are the latest company to try their hand at this hybrid genre though, and their approach makes use of another hybrid genre, the Fighting Fantasy books. These “choose your own adventure” books were created in the 1980s by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone and allowed the reader to enjoy a branching story that would involve dice rolls for luck or combat. The team at Branching Narrative have taken the sixth book in the series, Deathtrap Dungeon, and turned it into an interactive movie, with the excellent Eddie Marsan acting as narrator.


The way this has been laid out proves perfect for the Fighting Fantasy formula. The player will be greeted by the ever-calming presence of Eddie Marsan who will sit on his comfy armchair and explain what is going on. All of the passages from the book will be read by Marsan with the narration stopping for players to make choices. These choices, such as which direction to go at a junction, are presented clearly and the player simply clicks on whichever they choose. Some options will only give a limited time for the player to make their choice, raising the stakes somewhat.

All of the players important information about their character is presented in a minimal way, with stats such as stamina and luck on the left of the screen, and equipment on the right. Marsan will explain how to play, but there really isn’t much to know. Occasionally there will need to be a stat check where two dice are rolled and success means scoring equal to or lower than a stat, such as when testing against luck. Then there is combat in which each side rolls two dice and the total is added to skill, with the winner causing damage to the loser. All of the dice rolls are automatically triggered when they are required, so the player just has to sit and wait for the results.


The Deathtrap Dungeon story, originally written by Ian Livingstone, is fairly standard high fantasy stuff. Baron Sukumvit has a labyrinth filled with traps and monsters, and each year a bunch of heroes try to complete the labyrinth for fame and fortune. This year, it just happens to be the player who is entering, alongside a varied group of five other adventurers. The player will make their way through the dungeon, fighting the monsters and avoiding the traps where ever possible, in order to claim those riches for themselves. Of course, it was never going to be that easy. Fortunately, for those who make the wrong decisions or whose dice rolls are just not great, there are checkpoints for the player should they meet their grisly end.

When it comes to the presentation, players will spend much of their time staring at Eddie Marsan’s face as he sits in his comfy chair, which is no bad thing. Considering there are more than five hours of video in the game, Eddie does a really good job of keeping the story going and keeping the player involved. The reality is that an entire playthrough to the end could only take a couple of hours, but there are plenty of other choices that could be made along the way, taking the player into different areas, and going back to checkpoints will give players the chance to do that. Aside from Marsan sitting in his chair, there will be the occasional tray appear on the screen in which the dice will roll, and some of the excellent art work from the book will also be displayed for the player to enjoy.

Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure is currently on Steam Early Access where I guess the developers will finish applying any polish that is needed and taking notes from the community. The thing is, it seems pretty finished to me. Apparently there will be a new combat system included in the final game, along with some special effects, but I really do like it the way it is. Sure, a little bit of polish may be required, but there is no need to wait for the title to be fully launched.


Okay, not everyone is going to enjoy the interactive movie experience, but for those that think they might like to spend a couple of hours with Eddie Marsan narrating what is an excellently written fantasy adventure, Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure will be worth checking out. Currently priced at £7.99 on Steam Early Access, Branching Narrative have given this Fighting Fantasy game the love it deserves, resulting in what is probably the best interactive movie I have ever played.


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