Creature of Havoc
“YOU are the Creature of Havoc, a monstrous beast ruled only by hunger and rage” - It’s almost as if Steve Jackson has met me…..
I was originally going to place CoH in my top 3, if not the ultimate #1. And then I looked again at my maps.
The fond memories come from the 1st location. A sprawling, multi-linked space which gives you plenty of options to explore. It’s amazing and a joy to play. At first, I really objected to the lack of will my poor creature offered me – a case of ‘you can’t choose your own adventure’! - but later appreciated this ‘thinking outside the box’ direction from Steve Jackson. I think the translations are a bit too lengthy but liked the learning aspect that the creature goes through. All in all, a well-balanced mix of intrigue and battles. So far, so good.
It was only after accessing the secret passageway – no easy task thanks to a text error – and emerged into the open field, that it started to overstay its welcome.
We had the church and graveyard, Dree, Galleykeep, a swamp, Stittle Woad, Knot Oak wood and the Forest of bloody Spiders…
I remember watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and whilst I’m not the biggest Marvel fan, it’s OK, but this film just dragged from one fight scene to the next with a bit of dialogue and exposition in between. It reached a huge, well-choreographed, with lots of CGI fight scene and I was convinced that this must be the end but no! More dialogue and I realised, as my will to live seeped out of the cinema, that I had to get through at least one more fight scene before it would be over.
Well, that’s how I felt at this stage with CoH. All the happy memories from the start were washed away by the never-ending ending.
And what do you get for your perpetual labours? You destroy the portal so Zharradan Marr can’t return; this breaks your shape-shifter-esque spell, so you become human again and you take your place back as Commander of the Galleykeep. Hurrah!
#1 Tip for my own gamebooks:
I liked the tactic of ‘If you find yourself at a reference that starts with “XXXXX”. I was used to having the location description being a trigger to look for a secret room or detect traps but this feels a bit more subtle and I tended to forget about it. Only after wondering around lost for hours, did I eventually remember and then I’d have to retrace all my paths. Annoying but in a good way!
Best Map Notation that I Wrote:
Unsurprisingly given the nature of the beast, there seemed to be a lot of food-obsessed instructions on my map. ‘Feed then continue’, ‘Fight then feed’ and who could forget: ‘Fight horse then feed’. Oh yes, I gnawed my way happily through that stallion! And once, I’d had enough of all that feeding, I had the very wise instruction of: ‘Don’t follow Toad’. Yes, toad with a capital T. Although maybe I elevated the amphibian to a proper noun on account of…
Best illustration from the book:
I was very tempted to give the Toadman this accolade because, bless him, he looks so confused and bewildered. Maybe he’s also can’t believe that this adventure hasn’t ended yet…
However, Rhinoman wins simply because of the coquettish angle of his left leg. Seriously. Just look at it – would you be intimidated by a Rhinoman who looks like he’s permanently curtsying? And then I noticed the big, spiky ball dangling between his legs. Not only does that explain the weird leg posture but also gets him more sympathy points.
There were some old favourites here – drowning in sewage and being speared by imps come to mind – but some new, cruel and unpleasant deaths too. The sort that makes you wrinkle your lip up in faint disgust at the thought of it. And naturally that’s the kind of death we want! So in 3rd place, being guillotined and eaten by the Galleykeep crew; 2nd - having your organs harvested while you’re still alive – that’s gotta sting! And in 1st place, being eaten alive by Death Maggots. Fried rice anyone?
End game rating:
7½ /10. With the ½ given for the excellent front cover illustration, because I only recently noticed the green, decapitated head under the creature’s hand. Lovely touch!