While I've played the Sorcery! games on mobile for a good while, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain takes an interactive choose-your-own-adventure and lays it out in a classic, but playful, manner.
These sorts of games aren't a rarity by any means, but the Switch's catalogue isn't exactly overflowing and it's nice to have an old-school adventure worth digging into. It's definitely one you want to play again and again.
Enter with caution
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain revisits Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's popular fantasy gamebook and offers up thousands of pathways, dozens of quests, and 18 heroes each with their own stories.
As you enter the mountain to take on your own quest, you have a certain amount of skill, luck, and stamina. You've also got three resurrection stones in case you run out of stamina and kick the bucket. After you've used them all, it's back to the beginning.
Each hero has their own set of attacks and stats, and you need to keep it all in mind when fighting enemies in simultaneous tactical combat.
Though I'm not much of a tabletop kind-of gal, everything from the physics of rolling dice to the way your character token plods along on an ever-developing board sucks you in from the get-go.
In combat, you choose whether to move or attack and the direction, and it's not just about pointing and clicking. Sometimes your enemy will move from the square you're aiming for and sometimes it'll attack you where you stand.
Your character's personal traits come in useful during clashes, too. When you and an enemy strike each other at the same time dice are cast to determine who wins the skirmish. If you've got a good amount of luck and skill, you may be more successful.
The narrative pathways are plentiful and rich, offering up a lot of choices which may also affect the paths you can take further into your journey. Picking up a seemingly unimportant hunk of meat, for example, might open up another option in a future enemy encounter.
Your choices throughout the adventure in some cases will also be the difference between life and death and friend or foe. Not everyone running at you screaming wants to kill you, after all.
As well as having the resurrection stones as a chance at survival, wooden benches offer you a chance to rest and eat provisions to gain back stamina and 'save' your progress. You'll definitely want to take advantage of these.
Try, try again
Though you'll almost certainly die a bunch of times during your time with the game, it manages to avoid feeling repetitive for a good while.
Even when you take up arms as a character, the Souls you've earned from slaying creatures in previous play-throughs carry over. This means you don't have to boss through it in a single round if you want to unlock more characters to play as.
Its Gauntlet Mode offers up a different challenge to adventurers who've had enough of reading dialogue and making choices. Here you get to smash and slay whatever you can for as long as you can as a vile foe.
Performance-wise it does a good job, but there are a few hiccups throughout. As new territory builds up on the screen, framerates do take a hit until everything's all settled again.
After a questionably lengthy loading time coming into the game, I was pleased to see it was a one-off thing. However, there are points during the narrative decision-making that leave you waiting longer than you should. It does make you wonder whether the game is frozen or not.
Warlock of Firetop Mountain won't be a game everyone will enjoy, and that's kind-of a given. If you hate reading, RPGs, and tabletop games then it's highly likely this won't be your cup of tea.
As an overall package it's a thoroughly enjoyable experience where everything feels nicely balanced.
Its writing isn't too fluffy or fantastical, its sound effects and audio are immersive, its illustrations are striking, and it's definitely something I'll be returning to for another round.