`The Crimson Tide' is another contribution from Paul Mason to the Fighting Fantasy range with a strong, engaging storyline and a convoluted plot. Although not a direct sequel to `Black Vein Prophecy' it is set in the same orientalised, fantasy world and contains some of the same characters; most notably Maior (whom the reader plays in `Black Vein Prophecy'). There are also plenty of references to the land of Hachiman and the inclusion of Keiko, the ambassador for Hachiman, to link this adventure with the earlier `Sword of the Samurai'.
Like `Black Vein Prophecy' this is no standard FF adventure, beginning with an original twist. You start as a child and the adventure becomes your life journey to adulthood and revenge. Thus you typical FF attributes change rapidly as time passes during the course of events.
The path you must follow on this life journey is fiendishly difficult. There have been a few gamebooks that stand out as being exceptionally hard to complete but I have little reservation in stating that I believe this to be the most difficult, and possibly frustrating adventure gamebook of any series. As a child this was one of the few I tried to cheat on, but I couldn't even find a way to cheat. This book can be excruciatingly frustrating but it is (almost) worth it at the end. A well-constructed plot full of twists is finally revealed which, unusually for FF books, carries a strong moral lesson/message.
The difficulty level could easily be off-putting to the reader. It is an intricate, complicated adventure better suited to experienced gamebook players, who will certainly find something new and different in the style of play. This is not the first FF book a reader should choose and I would strongly recommend reading `Black Vein Prophecy' first. There is a lot to be enjoyed here but expect to have to work diligently at finding it.