Path of Heresy by Ivailo Daskalov
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Path of Heresy is an entry in the 2014 Windhammer competition. It is a fantasy adventure in which you play a priest of the Light looking to solve a ghoul mystery. There’s also a girl to wiggle our best bits at. Yep! There’s a dating sim thrown in here too.
Compared to some of the heavy content in this year’s entries – complex rules/emotional content/epic dice rolling/being trolled – this could be described as a light gamebook because there’s none of that here. The rules are simple, the content isn’t complicated, but most of all I found I actually enjoyed it. The sentences are a bit clunky, and it’s hard to feel anything for the girl we’re trying to woo, but the book tells us we’re supposed to woo her so that’s what we’ll have to do.
“Do you think we are heading in the right direction?” You turn your head and smell the sweet odour of Sister Ulmia. Her emerald almond-shaped eyes sparkle in the light of the street lamp. She looks stunning even in twilight.
You play a priest of the Light who starts the game with a favour of 10 – this means we can invoke 10 miracles before our soul pops out and we die. This was a pretty nice mechanic. You always feel like you want to take the good option but you have to weigh it up. Do you really want to use a precious favour point to heal that sickly child? Or should you be stockpiling them to smite ghouls? Or are you going to play this completely selfishly – will you instead burn up a favour point to heal a small cut on your potential girlfriend in order to get her to like you more? The gamebook doesn’t fully exploit this level of choices and poking of your moral fibre, but it’s getting there.
It is a fun, likeable and light-hearted gamebook, but there are strong and better entries this year. The writing isn’t brilliant and the ending, where all of your friends appear out of the shadows to help you in the endgame, is a little silly. Saying all this though, there is something about this gamebook that is quite endearing. This was a good effort from Ivailo, I hope he comes back because he is on the right track and with a little more refinement he can do well.