Tales of a Captain: To Recruit a Demon by Stefano Rochi
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Tales of a Captain: To Recruit a Demon is an ultra sci-fi demon battler that spans space and the multiverse…I think. You play Captain Arden Terraward, a galactic adventurer with amazing powers. And it is time to recruit a demon! Unfortunately HR is never that easy…
The book opens straight into the plot, with our [ship/computer/book] chatting merrily along to us and feeding us the mission. This is usually a nice touch, except this gamebook is so bizarre and full of strange language it takes a bit to sink in. I don’t know if this is an extension of another piece of work or a demo for something more to come, but I did find myself a bit lost with it. The gamebook has a simple plot, but it is ultimately bogged down by a complicated and unfamiliar universe. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
#Woooey Captain, you have been a busy boy! This should keep me amused for a…..well that was fun! So,
what’s the agenda?#
The gamebook has a few interesting mechanics I have not seen before. Each of your super powers has a number attached to them. When you want to use this power, you add that number to your current paragraph and read from there. The new paragraph will then give you further instructions depending on where you came from! It’s interesting but it’s a bit tricky to bookkeep on paper – it feels like it is more suited for an interactive app so all of this can happen behind the scenes.
The powers themselves are slightly overwhelming and a bit of a mess – it is really difficult to realise the intricacies of your powers (you’re just give a short description by “the book” in the opening section). This is ultimately the downfall of the gamebook – this adventure revolves around these powers and you do not understand the powers you have because you do not understand the universe you are in. Stefano Ronchi writes energetically but lacks clarity. I am sure he had a great time writing this but he sometimes leaves his readers behind. This lack of understanding of your character’s powers is really fatal, because choosing the wrong one at the wrong time leads to instant death. Again, I feel like this work would better as part of a bigger piece – perhaps the powers could be introduced one at a time so we could become familiar with them before we’re forced to pick one to save our skin (I still don’t know if my character has skin or not.)
I struggled to enjoy this one really. There are some nice touches – the interesting mechanics, the checkpoint feature, the sheer uniqueness of it all – but for me it doesn’t really work in this bite-sized format.