I spent a few delightful hours, today, playing Four Against Darkness, a dungeon-delving solitaire game designed by my friend Andrea Sfiligoi.
Andrea is one of Italy’s foremost independent game creators, and the game is published by his own Ganesha Games. Not exactly a roleplaying game, and neither a choose-your-own-adventure book, 4AD is a highly successful hybrid, the sort of fast and fun pastime an old player in exile might like.
And indeed, I like it.
The game comes as a single rulebook, 90 pages, nicely illustrated and with crispy clear rules, and a (growing) series of scenario books – adventures with elegant titles such as Caves of the Kobold Slave Masters.
There is certainly a strong nostalgic vibe running through the game and its supplements, and yet the system avoids a lot of the more wooden elements of first generation roleplaying games, and offers a much more varied and dynamic experience than traditional gamebooks.
Indeed, scenarios have a much higher playability, as random elements allow the user to play them again, and get a whole new set of surprises (both good and bad).
The whole, using a single six-sided dice.
With a minimum of tweaking – there are guidelines included – the solitaire game can be turned into a quick old school RPG. Or it can be played master-less by a group of players.
Better than television?
Another highly recommended addition to the games shelf.