As a genre defining adventure this is undoubtedly a contender for the finest gamebook ever and Ian Livingstone's masterpiece. It is genius to make the plot of a gamebook a game itself, even though retrospectively this seems an obvious idea.
The dungeon is fabulously constructed and consists of a myriad of ingenious traps and fiendish foes. The difficulty level is pitched perfectly, the right balance between being challenging and not too complicated. You will probably need to amp and plan to reach the end but each attempt will see you get further and achieve more as you steadily progress. There is always something new to explore and even false routes and scenarios are still enjoyable and worth experiencing. There is plenty of scope for extra play and revisits in this adventure.
'Deathtrap Dungeon' also contains some of the best opponents and most imaginative monsters to be found in Fighting Fantasy. There are a myriad of creatures including the physically powerful Pit Fiend, the cunning gnome, amusing trolls, pesky troglodytes, and the sinister Mirror Demon. The bloodbeast that features on the original cover (sadly replaced with the Wizard re-releases) is a phenomenal creation, one of Ian Livimgstone's best, and your battle against it sufficiently different and enjoyable. It is also the first adventure to make use of a manticore. The manticore is realised perfectly as a deadly, cunning opponent rather than as a ravenous beast. It is also one of the more intense combats in FF.
Your fellow competitors are also varied and developed well. Throm is somehow one of the most likeable allies in FF. upon taking the correct route through the dungeon you should encounter all the competitors you see at the start. Each of them are given their own little story and fate, each fitting into the general plot. The adventure is given an extra enjoyable element by having you cross paths with them all, whether they become enemies or allies.
However, 'Deathtrap Dungeon' lacks a main villain unlike other FF books. Baron Sukumvit hardly qualifies. As the owner of the dungeon he is neither enemy or ally. What we learn of him is still intriguing despit of this and somehow the adventure doesn't need a main villain to compliment it.
Although there are a few quite basic paragraphs, on a whole this is a very well written adventure. The various scenarios capture a sense of intensity whilst often maintaining both a hint of menace and amusement. Few adventure gamebooks have ever managed to be so atmospheric or captured the imagination of the reader so well. The background is one of th best in the FF series, superbly setting the scene and immersing the reader. The final paragraph is also one of the most satisfying.
This is probably Ian Livingstone's finest adventure. It was such a highlight of the original series that it spawned FF's first sequel, 'Trial of Champions', which itself led to a further sequel. Ther were no other sequels in the series until the fiftieth release . 'Deathtrap Dungeon' also spawned a video game and recently there has been the possibility of a film.