Halloween is upon us. Which is why I decided to do three solo gamebooks within this month, two of which are dedicated to this hallowed holiday. These gamebooks are made by Penguin Comics, the same people who brought us the pinball game that I liked.
The first of the three is Ghost Manor. Let’s hope our dive into this haunted mansion doesn’t involve Eddie Murphy.
Our story begins with someone telling me that a Dr. Kruger had died and that a very expensive jewel is mine if I can spend one night in a haunted mansion. Okay, that’s a pretty interesting set up.
Let’s do it! That rock is mine! I approach the manor and decide to outright step in. I now must roll a die to see which door I go to.
Four, so I go south. I see something approach me… It’s a ghost! Combat begins. It’s fairly simple. All you have to do is roll below your fight value (which is your HP + weapon value) and you’ll get a hit in. I will assume I have a dagger with me, which adds a weapon value of 1 for a total of 4. Same goes for the monster.
I’ll skip the nitty gritty and say who hits who. I miss. He hits. I hit. He hits. I miss. He misses. I miss. He misses. I hit. He misses. I hit. I win.
It was literally first to three hits wins. It’s kinda repetitive, but I can somewhat understand with gamebooks like this. It wasn’t prepared for you to do crazy stunts like roll over or jump. It was a straight up slobber knocker. I get a silver ring for my troubles and it’s back to the crazy maze. I end up encountering another Ghost.
I’ll just say I beaten that encounter. This time I get healed for three HP, meaning my fight value is at 5 (I was at 1 HP, got brought to 4, plus the dagger makes 5). This time, I go east. This time I meet a werewolf. I just thought of something. I have a silver ring… Werewolves hate silver.
I can take him. So I hit and he hits. He walks away because I got infected with his werewolfiness, but the ring saved me. So now I go into the basement where I find a lab… But nothing important for me there. After exploring the house, I encounter the werewolf again. This time he’s not running. I take my ring and cram it into his throat.
The end result is that I now have 6 HP, which means I always hit unless I get hit twice. So after some more exploring I find a dagger. Whoops, assumed I already had one. My bad. So all the options have become repetitive and so I decided to just pick my next opponent: a vampire. I stake him with the knife. Alright, now I’m just gonna pick the next ones because I pretty much went all over the manor.
I end up getting hurt in a trap, but not by much. Eventually I find my way to a door that takes me into a portal where I see the Spirit of St. Louis. I enter the plane and see Dr. Kruger! This is gonna be a bloody fight. His fight value is at 5, meaning that he has to roll that high to beat me. However, I’m at 6. Meaning that I can autohit so long as he always rolls 6s.
After a long and lengthy fight, I beat my rival and knock him off the plane. I return, only to find that the jewel is gone and that my lawyer had ditched me because he can’t trust me with it.
Honestly, this game could have passed better as an adventure module. It has the basic layout of one and even a few plot hooks. As a standalone gamebook, it felt repetitive with only one true ending to the game being behind random chance and praying that you have enough health to beat him.
There are a few routes not taken. For instance, exploring the outside would have you meet a woman who asks for your name. Answer falsely and she’ll penalize you. Answer correctly and she’ll gift you the silver ring needed to avert werewolf transformation.
Being a werewolf is cool and dandy, having tons of destructive force and even high health. However, you will get an alternate open end where you can choose to live in the manor, but you have the option to go get a cure, which in turn sets up the whole encounters all over again, especially the one with Dr. Kruger. It gets repetitive, though it’s possibly due to its short page length.
With Pinball, it was repetitive on purpose. Here? I kinda got annoyed after going through the hall only to fight a third ghost, and I was already annoyed with the fight mechanic. But hey, it’s PWYW, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. Well, bon voyage, gamers.