Tower of Atrocities of Corruption of Obscenities by Chan Sing Goh
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Chan Sing Goh is better known for his historical gamebooks based around the British Empire, so it is a little surprise we’re off on a farcical fantasy adventure here: to sword an evil warlock, holed up in a horrible tower in the middle of a desert. The few surviving adventures have reported terrible things like monsters and bottomless pit-traps, and although I am slightly intrigued as to how they managed to report back on that, I am sure we’ll be alright.
This isn’t your typical generic slaughter-fest. The author regularly breaks down the 4th wall and the gamebook moves along at a jovial, chatty pace. You get the opportunity to examine items multiple times – a bit like a really annoying text adventure – until suddenly something different happens. As the story progresses you have the opportunity to rewrite history, your self and the physical environment with the story rewinding at regular intervals – each time a little bit different from before. Chan is playing with states and resetting the gamebook world beneath your feet, and all of Schrödinger cats get let out of the box.
“Warlock!” you shout while pointing your sword at the gate. “You have stained the land
with your evil for too long. Cowering in your tower cannot protect you forever. I, the king’s champion, have come to give you a good swording.
If you play the game straight, you will find the gamebook very simple and cheery. If you open up the cabinet of curiosities you may discover something a bit more bizarre, a lot darker and delightfully complex.
It is complicated, a bit of a mess, some of the states are very difficult to set up and it is not quite as funny or as clever as it wants to be. If choices are going to matter I feel they should matter more – I would have liked the author to have taken the theme even further and radically rebuilt the tower based on the little things so we can see the butterfly effect fully in action.
What it is also is, however, is fun, readable and intriguing. There’s a few grammatical problems and bits of annoying narration, but overall but it’s written well. It does something I have not seen before so it’s worth a read. And you always have to admire a gamebook that has a toilet.