Instrument of the Gods by SA
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Followup to Windhammer 2013’s Dirty Instruments, Instrument of the Gods is a solid dystopian post-apocalyptic free form gamebook.
It would be good to find out what Jax has been up to in the last couple of years – I’m guessing lots of killing and sex with and without lots of prostitutes – so I pick him again. The author has crafted an interesting and living world here. Despite being harsh and terrible, there was something exciting about returning. I liked the language – “Frucking” was nice to hear again. What we have here is a future Earth, wrecked by a terrible nuclear war. We learn that most people now live underground or on the moon. We’re in the sewer system of Paris, where a sizable human population has grown, and is about as nice as you can imagine. This is a place where dead lie rotting in the street and regularly overdose on the drug of choice, Euphoria. Prostitition is the only real career choice.
“I can’t wait to get the fruck out of here,” you mumble to yourself
The mechanics seem a lot snappier than they were before. Combat is sharp and straight forward. It involves rolling dice and adding the scores to the appropriate stat – either hand to hand, long range or defense. Unfortunately Jax starts with everything pretty maxed out, so there’s not much room for development there. The system is oddly satisfying – it is easy to imagine a 6 in a shoot out representing a headshot and a poor roll for defense meaning completely caught square. The results are pretty devastating, and combat doesn’t last more than a few rounds making it appropriately short and dangerous.
Writing is fine, with just a few typos, and the imagination is brilliant and well-realised. The gamebook is structured, with a central hub and lots of little side avenues to explore in any order you choose. Character choice is really important and really well done – your character brings with it different morals and baggage, different quests and even different perspectives on the same quests. This is a really nice touch.
The gamebook isn’t perfect – there are a couple of places to get stuck (there should be a way back to the main city on section 35) and is going to suffer from balancing issues if you choose the route that the author does not expect. But, despite being a horrible place, it is really enjoyable to explore. A good entry.