Picture the scene. You're a brave warrior, wielding an axe and a sword. You have a bunch of adoring, stat-boosting followers in tow, and a princess under your protection. It's your job to get her back to the safety of the castle.
The problem is you keep walking past the castle. You're constantly wandering up to the door but missing the entrance. You're brawling with ogres and wolves at either side of the castle, getting cursed by witches and finding enchanted streams, but you just can't quite make it into the stronghold to complete your quest.
That's Talisman: Prologue HD in a nutshell. It's a difficulty inherent with the boardgame that this iOS port is based on, but it's amplified by the solo nature of the touchscreen experience. You're a brave hero who's entirely under the thumb of cruel, frustrating chance.
The game is a faithful recreation of the mechanics of the boardgame with a few tweaks and twists here and there to make it run smoother for just one player. To begin with you've got one quest and one character - the warrior.
This introductory adventure walks you through most of the basics of the game. You roll a digital dice and move that many spaces around the board. When you stop the space gives you an instruction.
More often than not that's drawing a card from the adventure deck. Once drawn you follow the instructions on the card. You could be fighting a beast, picking up a stash of treasure, or having an encounter with a mysterious stranger.
Almost everything in the game is resolved with a die roll. Scraps involve rolling a die and adding your strength and weapon modifiers to try and beat the monster's score. Random encounters see you rolling the digital cube and then checking a table to see what happens.
All of this occurs in your standard fantasy setting, full of green-skinned goblins, towering giants, and magic spells that might turn you into a toad.
Sword and sorcery
Once you finish the first quest it unlocks a new character's introduction and some more of the Warrior's story. Once you've played enough you can be an Assassin, a Wizard, a Troll, a Dwarf, or a Prophetess. Each has its own special abilities and stat scores and its own five quests to complete.
But the way the game has been put together too readily reveals the cracks in the underlying mechanics. Talisman the boardgame is a multi-layered thing with plenty of goals and quests occurring at the same time. Here though the focus is narrowed, and the random dice rolls become restrictive rather than exciting.
It's a problem exacerbated by the fact your stats are reset when you finish a quest. Where in the boardgame an extra encounter with an orc might boost your strength in the long run, here it's just an annoyance to be waded through while you wait for the right number to land.
A little bored game
Don't get me wrong, there's still an awful lot to like about Talisman Prologue HD. It's an engaging translation of the boardgame and there's still a thrill as you watch the dice spin, fingers crossed that they land in your favour.
It's just a shame that there isn't a multiplayer option here, or a way to bypass the single quest system that's been imposed. As it is Talisman Prologue HD is a tantalising glimpse at what's coming, but a lot of people might feel a little shortchanged by the experience.