Indie Quickie: Talisman Prologue

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? A stripped-down single-player edition of what will eventually be the first digital version of the classic 1983 RPG board game.

Who made it and where can you get it? Nomad Games gets the credit for doing what a handful of other studios tried and failed to do. The standard PC version of Talisman Prologue is currently available for $10 on the game’s website and through various digital download outlets like Desura and Amazon.com. (For $2 more, a premium version nets you a soundtrack and a theme pack.) It’s also freshly available for Android and iPad/iPhone for $5. Votes are needed to get the game on Steam through Steam Greenlight as well.

How much did we play? Blazed through at least three quests as the warrior, troll, druid and monk in the iOS version of the game.

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? No issues on iOS. Runs perfectly.

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Why should you play it?

    • Sweet, sweet nostalgia: Anyone who’s spun their prophetess through the outer and middle regions of Talisman on the way to the Portal of Power can’t help but savor this blast from the RPG past. All the touches you remember are here, from the classic character artwork—yes, the druid still looks as Father Christmas-y as ever—to the way the Witch card always pops up to turn you into a toad and ruin your day. Talisman is both a revered gaming classic and has been featured as a prop on The Big Bang Theory, so its pop-culture bonafides are rock-solid.

    • Random, yet strategic: Like the board game, Talisman Prologue puts your hero and the eventual success of your quest at the whims of two types of fate: A die roll that determines which spaces you’ll land on as you circle the game board and a card draw that determines what happens to you once you land there. What’s different is that here, you’re trying to earn up to a three-talisman score for completing each character-specific quest as efficiently as possible. While this leads to some frustrating moments of flitting back and forth as you’re trying to roll a 3 that lands you on the Ruins space so you can defeat the dragon, it also adds a strategic urgency to the proceedings. And some additional annoyance at the goddamned Blizzard card. Still hate that thing.

    • Pay Now to Enjoy Later: Yes, it’s true that Prologue only gives you a limited number of missions, you only get access to 10 of the eventual 14 characters and the lack of multiplayer and/or AI opponents seems to defeat the entire point of the Talisman experience, but all of these things will be addressed/available in the full digital version of Talisman Digital Edition once Nomad completes it later this year. Think of this as a $5-10 mid-development kickstarter that actually nets you something now for your investment. As fans of the game know, there are a truckload of expansions (from the classic dungeon and city expansions to the more modern themed adventure expansions). Imagine how cool it could be to have access to that entire universe digitally. And to kick your opponents’ asses as the unstoppable Chaos Warrior.

Parting Thoughts: Playing Talisman alone isn’t quite the evening-stealing blast that competing against three of your friends to own the Crown of Command is, but it’s still entertaining, expertly presented and nostalgic. The missions are diverse and do a great job of introducing you to the nuances and special abilities of characters you might not otherwise play. And hey, even if you don’t play them in the eventual full digital version, at least you’ll know your opponents’ weaknesses.

About the Author

Aaron R. Conklin has been writing about games and games culture for more than 15 years. A former contributor to Computer Games Magazine and Massive Magazine, his writing has appeared on IGN.com and in newspapers and alt-weeklies across the country. Conklin's an unapologetic Minnesota sports fan living in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Midwest's most underrated gaming vibe.