Since the inception of the Fighting Fantasy series, esteemed fantasy writer Steve Jackson has sent readers on countless journeys through dungeons and monster infested swamps. Starship Traveller was the first gamebook by Steve Jackson to introduce a Sci-Fi premise to the Fighting Fantasy series. As the commander of a Starship, the player and his crew must explore an unknown universe after their ship is swallowed by a Black Hole. During the adventure, you must explore seven hostile planets for clues that will help plot a return course home.
Unlike previous Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, the player must also account for their crew during the story. Similar to Star Trek, the player can bring crew members to assist on expeditions and as back up during combat. As the game begins, you can choose to play in either ‘Classic’ or ‘Free Read’ mode. Classic mode mimics the paperback experience as Steve Jackson envisioned it. Your character’s starting stamina is calculated by rolling 2d6 (two, six-sided dice) and by adding twelve to the rolled number. Starship Traveller, like its predecessors, includes unlimited bookmarks (i.e. save points) in this mode. Free Read mode, as the name implies, allows the player to cheat by backtracking through the story, unlocking decisions that may not be available, and healing your character anytime during the story. While Free Read mode is fun to experience, it limits the suspense felt while playing through Classic mode.
Surprisingly, Starship Traveller’s character creation process deviates from the normal formula used in previous releases. Players can now name their character and select a gender before rolling the dice to build their character’s Stamina, Skill and Luck. Once this process is complete, you are sent to the ‘Briefing’ screen to choose from either a ‘default’ or ‘custom’ Starship. Customizing a starship involves christening the ship (i.e. naming it) and calculating its Weapon Strength and Shields by rolling dice (similar to building your character).
This process also includes choosing between a default crew or handpicking your own. Again, this process resembles the main character creation process – naming your crew, selecting their gender, and rolling dice to determine their Stamina and Skill. Your crew is rather large and consists of a Science Office, a Medical Officer and an Engineering officer, to name just a few.
The game spends little time on introductions, as your ship and crew are quickly pulled through a massive Black Hole into an unknown universe. While most Fighting Fantasy gamebooks include lengthy introductions, Starship Taveller’s story quickly moves the player along. Just shortly into the game, you and your crew are given a choice to visit a life-bearing solar system or investigate a barren system that contains no signs of life. Regardless of the decisions you make along the way, Starship Traveller’s story does a great job of propelling your ship and crew into nail-biting space battles, dangerous asteroid belts and deadly bar fights on alien worlds, to name just a few.
Starship Traveller’s combat system is more complex than its predecessors. While combat still uses 2d6 (two, six-sided dice) to determine the outcome of battle, it also keeps track of your Starship’s weapons and shields (along with any adversaries) in a large, blue window. Combat is initiated by tapping the ‘Fire’ button, which is located at the top of the combat menu.
As the dice roll, you can shake your Android device to manipulate the outcome. A ‘Targeting System’ – which decides if you hit or miss your foe – adds to the suspense of combat (not to mention the difficulty).
When you’re not battling spacecraft, you’re investigating alien worlds with your crew. The story is rife with alien encounters, barren worlds to explore, and combat encounters that involve both your main character and crew. But most importantly, the game is much harder to play than previous Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.
The story contains a large number of branching paths that can lead to multiple outcomes. Additionally, the amount of decisions available can be staggering, especially when it involves your crew.
Starship Traveller is a worthy addition to Tin Man Game’s repertoire of gamebook releases. The combat system may deviate from the established formula pioneered by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston, and the story itself may not involve dragons and goblins, but the end result is a compelling space adventure that will delight and entertain. Moreover, fans of the original books, and even Sci-Fi junkies, will be hard-pressed not to find anything to like about Starship Traveller; it’s that good.
Platform: Android Devices (Available on Google Play Store / Also Available for iPhone/iPad)
Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
|Gorgeous, full-color illustrations compliment the story.|
|While limited, the sound effects do a good job of enhancing the experience.|
|A compelling story that includes many life-threatening scenarios.|
|Fans of the Sci-Fi genre will find themselves naming their character, crew and Starship after their favorite show(s). As a fan of Star Trek, I found myself naming my Starship after the legendary USS Enterprise and its original crew members, James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy (Bones), to name just a few. Starship Traveller offers enough flexibility to allow the player to live out all their Sci-Fi fantasies in the comfort of their home or on the go. And as gamers, we can't ask for anymore than that.|