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Necklace of Skulls (Critical IF gamebooks) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The gamebook places you in a world deeply steeped in myth and magic - you can travel through the underworld, fight a hydra, meet a god and even become immortal (which in game terms, means that you can only die in a sudden death paragraph. Life loss no longer means anything. And this is not even a trap where you have to choose between this and winning. You can become immortal AND win at the end too).
The gameplay depends on you choosing skills. There are no random elements, so no dice to roll and no frustrating random deaths. The skills are all balanced and skills that might not seems so powerful, such as etiquette, folklore and cunning are just as useful as the more powerful skills such as magic and swordplay.
As well as the fantastic encounters, you also get to explore the culture that you live in - for example, you could learn a sacred game which will come in very handy later on in the book.
The book culminates in visiting the city of Necklace of Skulls where you have to overcome various challenges before you see him. Then you have to take part in the sacred game in order to get your brother back and destroy the Necklace of Skulls himself.
The game itself is challenging but the choices are logical. It also has several options and uses of skills that may not be the obvious ones to take, but Dave Morris has some good explanations as to why they work.
As with a lot of his gamebooks, Necklace of Skulls has the feel that you are living in a world of myth and
legend that you get to explore.Read more ›
Mayan culture had previously been a major influence for the Golden Dragon gamebook ‘Temple of Flame’ (co-written by Dave Morris who also writes this). But this was more of a fantasy/Indiana Jones style quest borrowing from Mesoamerican and other ancient civilisations. ‘Necklace of Skulls’ on the other hand is quite clearly meant to be an adventure that takes place in the world of the Maya.
Essentially though, it is quasi-historical, baring similarities geographically and landscape wise. The names of the various places you can visit have a Mayan sound to them. Some of names are quite clearly based on actual place names; Koba instead of Kabah, Oshmal instead of Uxmal. Nachan, however, seems to take the place of Palenque as there is a similar tomb with a reference to Pakal, Palenque’s most famous king. Furthermore, there is also a somewhat whimsical reference to the Olmecs, one of Central America’s oldest civilisations. Anyone who has seen one of the Olmec heads has probably imagined the explanation amusingly proffered in this adventure for the large stone head.
Additionally, it is also a somewhat authentic touch that a fair proportion of the adventure revolves around the Ball Game endemic of many Central American civilisations.Read more ›
You are a warrior or a shaman or a hunter searching for your missing twin who was last seen entering the lair of the evil sorcerer Necklace of Skulls. On your way to rescue him you can meet a giant counting the stars, find the fabled World Tree or get thrown into the Mayan underworld, which is the most peculiar and terrifying of all the locations in the book.
Unlike some gamebooks, there are multiple ways to victory and a couple of possible endings. This gives it great replay value, even after you complete it. Different skill choices make different routes possible and there are generally multiple ways to solve any problem. Finding them all is a fun challenge.
However, this was originally written in the Nineties and some of the features from the time are present. Notably, it is pretty tough and you have to be extremely lucky to succeed on your first few attempts. Although there are many possible successful routes, there are also several fatal wrong turns and many attritional bad encounters meaning you die near the end. Nevertheless, playing this several times is pretty enjoyable. The prose is evocative, the encounters are plentiful and there are quite a few hidden secrets to discover.
The other problem is a classic gamebook one: finding the quickest route to your destination is generally not recommended as you probably won't have collected enough helpful items or clues to survive the finale. You should always, rather non-intuitively as there is supposed urgency to your mission, take the scenic route.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you've ever found ancient civilisations interesting, or wondered what life would be like during the height of the Mayan or Aztec worlds, this is the book for you to really... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michael Hartland
Another gem from Mr Morris, this Interactive Fiction gamebook (no dice, no luck, just judgement!) places YOU as the hero in a richly detailed Central America. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Mr. James E. O'Grady
One of the best gamebooks ever. It features the underused Mayan mythology as its backdrop, and uses a completely non-random system, so success or failure is wholly dependent on... Read morePublished on 29 Jun. 2014 by L. Sinclair