Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
on 4 May 2005
Following the phenomenal success of the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook The Warlock of Firetop Mountain a sequel was inevitable, with this time Steve Jackson producing The Citadel of Chaos alone. Story-wise this is a disappointingly unimaginative retread of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain - once again as the hero you have to venture into the lair of a mighty sorcerer, besting monsters and traps and collecting artefacts along the way. However, looking back at the gamebooks produced, while Ian Livingstone always seemed content to churn out a small industry of vivid but standard Fighting Fantasy adventures Steve Jackson was always trying out new innovations to the format. As such, while the story is familiar here, Jackson adds some new ideas to the mix, the most important being the inclusion of a magic system, which works surprisingly well.
In The Warlock of Firetop Mountain it was quite common to win your way through to the end of the book, only to be stumped by not having found the correct keys for the Warlocks treasure chest, but The Citadel of Chaos is a much less forgiving book, with plenty of sudden death moments: if you don't find a certain item on your travels you'll never get past Balthus Dire's wife; and if you don't defeat her you'll never get the right artefact to destroy the Hydra - worst of all are the dreaded Ganjee's, which must have been responsible for defeating me on a dozen occasions. Even once you get past this lot you'll still be stumped unless you have also discovered both the combination lock for Balthus Dire's door and the method to defeat him.
Once you find the correct path through the citadel this adventure is surprisingly easy and can be completed by the weediest character providing they have the right spells (this is not a book you can win through on hack and slash combat), but finding that right route is a nightmare. As a child this book was one of only a couple of the Fighting Fantasy's I could never complete without cheating, and as a nostalgic 30-year old it still took me about 3 dozen attempts and copious amounts of map drawing to discover it. Very tough, but fun