Talisman: Digital Edition
I spent a good amount of time playing “Talisman Prologue” ever since I was gifted a copy back in December of 2012. I had never played “Talisman” the board game before then, so I found “Talisman Prologue” to be a nice primer in terms of learning the game’s ins and outs. Unfortunately, it was only designed as a single player experience, meaning that I couldn’t take the fight to others online. “Talisman: Digital Edition”, which has been on Steam’s Early Access program for a while, rectifies that problem by introducing multiplayer among a few other things. While this review predates that game’s official launch date (February 25th, 2013) by a few hours, I’m told that my current build is representative of the final product, with no major gameplay patches planned between now and then. With that said, I’d like to once again thank Don Whiteford, the Co-Founder of Nomad Games Limited, for sending me a free press copy.
The main menu is fairly self-explanatory, allowing the user to start or resume a game, play online, and view their profile & leaderboard. The options menu covers audio volumes, screen resolution, fullscreen toggle, language, camera & AI speed, tool tips & tutorial pop-ups, and more. My only complaint here (and it’s fairly significant) is the “resume game” feature. For one, only offline games are saved and only one at a time…meaning that starting a new game will overwrite the one you’re currently playing. Online games don’t seem to have a save feature at all…once you quit, you lose your progress. This obviously wasn’t much of an issue in “Talisman Prologue”, but comes readily noticeable when you introduce multiplayer. What if you and your friend had to stop playing, but you wanted to come back to it, say, next week? The alternative is playing local multiplayer (which is possible in offline mode), though your visiting friend from Hawaii may not want to spring for plane tickets just to finish the game you were forced to stop playing prior.
I’ve covered the game’s rules and gameplay mechanics at length in my “Talisman Prologue” review and “Talisman: Digital Edition” Beta videos already, so I’ll opt not to cover them here. For the benefit of those who are new to the game, I will briefly say that the main idea here is to choose a character, move them around the board, level them up, and be the last one standing. You’ll gain equipment, allies, and spells along the way to help buff your base stats in order to assist you in your quest to reach the center of the board. Getting to the crown space in the center (which becomes progressively harder as you get closer to it) will drain your opponents’ life points every turn, almost ensuring your victory. There’s a slight learning curve, but the game’s pop up tutorials do a good job in explaining the game as you play it. The interface & game text are fairly easy to navigate, with little to no bugs or glitches to speak of.
If you’ve already played “Talisman Prologue”, you won’t find a plethora of new content here. You’ll have your choice of fourteen different characters, all of which have unique play styles and abilities. For the record, “Talisman Prologue” only featured ten. The game does introduce (at the time of writing) four additional characters to “purchase” by way of the “Reaper Expansion Pack”, which you can pick up for an addition five dollars. The “Reaper Expansion Pack” also includes ninety new adventure cards, twenty-six new spell cards, twelve warlock quest cards, and the Grim Reaper gameplay mechanic. Day one DLC has always bothered me a bit, especially when said DLC is advertised before the game is even released. Some might see it as a cheap cash-grab while others will gladly drop the extra dough for the new content…I suppose it all comes down to your individual preferences and beliefs on the matter. I myself didn’t receive a copy of the expansion, so I am unable to comment on its content further.
“Talisman: Digital Edition” is the kind of game that you can spend hundreds of hours playing and is for all intents and purposes a solid port of the popular board game (“4th Revised Edition” for you connoisseurs out there). You’d think that the addition of multiplayer would be the reason why, but I simply found that feature to be icing on the cake. No, the real appeal here is with how all of the different playable characters feel and act. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, giving players a reason to go back and try them all out to see which one suits their individual play style. For fifteen bucks (as of 2/25/14), that’s not a bad deal for the content available. With that said, the game is still heavily reliant on luck, especially with all of the dice rolling and card drawing going on. You do have some control over movement, but you’re still at the mercy of dice rolls for the majority of the game. This may scare some of you hardcore strategists away, much in the same way that “Elder Sign: Omens” might. The digital edition could admittedly use more work with regards to save files (or lack thereof in some cases), but it’s an overall great addition to my library.
Editor’s Note: For detailed information about the game and how it plays, I implore you to check out the below videos. Keep in mind that some were recorded while the game was still early Alpha/Beta, so not all of the features may be represented properly.
Final Verdict: 9/10
Previews & Beta Gameplay: