Like many people, I have a to do list. While it includes the usual day to day tasks there are more macro-like goals on there as well. Things I want to accomplish in the grand scheme of things. Among them has long been a reminder to play more board games. It’s a seemingly simple goal, but it has also long been the victim of some shameful delays.
Talisman is a fairly blunt reminder of just how much I’m missing as a result of my procrastination. It’s the digital conversion of a classic board game first released in 1983. In it, one to four players are tasked with acquiring the fabled crown of command located in the middle of the board. Along the way they’ll use magic, find treasure, fight creatures of evil, participate in numerous quest like events and look for the namesake talisman that allows them to traverse the deadly Valley of Fire that lies between them and the game winning prize.
From here a blow by blow breakdown of the game can get quite complicated. Talisman has been constantly updated since its original release, and this version is fairly faithful to the most recent iteration, with only a few elements missing.
That means that there are a lot of tiny gameplay aspects that will ultimately determine the fate of you and your fellow adventurers. Right from the moment you pick your character class, there are numerous considerations to make and playing the game only unravels more possibilities. This isn’t the most complicated game I’ve ever played, and from what I understand it’s far from the most complicated tabletop game, but Talisman does feature some genuine depth.
Fortunately, it also allows new players to absorb the rules at a fairly relaxed pace. Nearly every action is prefaced by some kind of explanation as to what’s about to happen (at least if you choose to use the tutorial) and is usually determined by a roll or two of the dice, or a draw of some cards. What that means is that you’ll have plenty of opportunity to proceed at your own pace, and deal with things as they come.
This means that Talisman snares you in rather quickly with its easy to learn style, and then seals the deal once you began to appreciate and take advantage of the little subtleties that pile up over the course of a game. There is a strong reliance on luck present here, and the thrill of discovering what the next turn will bring to both you and your opponents makes for some really tense moments guaranteed to cause pure joy for some, and absolute rage for others.
Unfortunately that same element of luck that makes the game so very intriguing, is sure to ultimately drive some players away. Talisman features some moments of choice and strategy on the players part, but by and large your fate is the result of a series of randomly determined outcomes. This is not a game for strategic purists, nor is it a game for the easily frustrated.
It’s also not a game for single players if I’m being quite honest. The one player option for this game is little more than a token inclusion, and lacks the drama and personal intrigue of multi-player matches. Fortunately multiplayer games are easily accessible through both online and a local mode that has you pass the device between players. In the later instance it becomes immediately apparent Talisman was designed with a tablet in mind, though phone players will still get something close to the full experience.
And ultimately Talisman is an experience. While not quite on par with a good Dungeons and Dragons session, it does offer a lot of role playing elements handled with care and creativity and bound together by the natural joy that only a party game can provide. Find a good group of RPG or tabletop fans, and you’re almost guaranteed a truly great time.
There’s always a risk in proceeding into a classic game without the healing nature of memories there to smooth over the rough edges of the experience, but Talisman for Android is such a finely crafted incarnation of a well-honed game that only those with no patience for luck or a love of game induced good times could possibly look down on it.
Held back only by the potential personal preferences of its players, Talisman is classic board game, that has transitioned near flawlessly into the modern age.