Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell is an acquired taste.
This iOS title channels Dungeons and Dragons more than it does a video game. It caters to fans of the Fighting Fantasy series that are familiar with its old school feel.
For those unfamiliar with Fighting Fantasy, it started out as a series of single player role playing books in the 1980s. The books put a spin on the idea of “Choose your own adventure” novels by adding role playing stats like Skills, Stamina, Luck and Fear. All attributes are determined D&D style— with a six-sided die.
House of Hell plays much the same way as the books. There are no cutscenes, only scenarios described through text. There are a few tweaks that make the experience unique to mobile devices. First off, you don’t have to carry around dice and a sheet of paper anymore. Attributes and encounters in the game are settled with a graphic roll of the dice.
It’s handy that checking your stats and a summary of important information is available through the in game menu. Also, you don’t have to turn the pages anymore so there is no way to cheat your way through the adventure in normal and hardcore mode.
The writing is where House of Hell falls short. The description is dry and the writing is clunky at times. The spelling mistakes and poor word choices are inexcusable and really mar this game. The story itself is also generic. You’re car breaks down and you’re forced to take shelter in a scary gothic mansion populated by monsters.
House of Hell adds ambient music that’s impossible to capture with a paper book, but it doesn’t add much to the gameplay experience. The theme music that constantly runs in the background sounds like the theme from the Halloween movies and gets annoying after awhile.
This game is a treat for the curious. It’s fun to explore every possibility see where each path will lead. Trying and guide your character throughout the mansion alive is a challenge that hinges on the attributes you roll to begin the game .
The gameplay elements invoke the nostalgia of the D&D gaming experiences. It’s for those used to determining fights, bats, poltergeists, wild dogs and the lot with dice.
Game Muse recently did an interview with Steve Jackson, one of the creators of the Fighting Fantasy Books, and the writer of House of Hell, which can be found here.