In a time when videogames are as expansive and as time-consuming to produce like Hollywood blockbusters, text-based games appear to be out of time. Choice of Games LLC, a small company from California, want to convince players from the opposite. They are specialized on interactive smartphone games. The Great Tournament, a 180,000 word interactive fantasy novel, is one of their hosted games.
In the game, you slip into the role of a 15-year-old boy in a fictional medieval kingdom. Right at the beginning you get the opportunity to become the squire of a famous knight who participated in numerous tournaments. In the further course of the game, you will participate in a battle against a hostile army trying to invade the kingdom, become a knight, manage an entire village and participate in various tournaments. At the end of the game you will get a forecast of your further life based on the decisions you made while playing.
The decisions are the core aspect of the game. For example, do you invest the income of your village into more guards so that the residents will have a chance defending themselves against raiders? Or will you use the money of the village to buy yourself equipment, while taking the risk of leaving your town unprotected? If you are on the run and traced, is it a better choice to run as far as possible away or is it better to create an ambush? The game consists of many more decisions to make, some of them smaller, some of them can even influence the faith of the whole kingdom. Your character has different stats that can be altered dependent on the decisions you make. If you choose a smart answer, you might increase your wisdom. If you succeed a strength-based challenge, your strength might increase and so on. You can even decide what type of fighter you want to become, specializing yourself in either melee or ranged combat (and you even can learn fire magic later in the game but sadly only use it in one situation).
At the moment, there are 20 achievements to unlock. Those achievements reward players for reaching certain points in the game and not everything can be unlocked within the first game walkthrough. Certain achievements, like learning fire magic, are very hard to unlock and require a specific order of decisions to take. The wisely placed achievements increase the replay value of the game significantly. And to put the icing on the cake, the game is free to play. You can pay for the game and get rid of the advertisements and be able to instantly replay the game at the end of each run, the price is about $5. In my opinion, the advertisements don’t bother me and the time to wait before you can restart a new game (which takes approximately 15 minutes) is acceptable.
I honestly didn’t expect much of the game, but soon fell in love with it. It’s an interesting app-based approach to the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. The content is high-quality, after two walkthroughs I spotted only two spelling mistakes. Even though the story isn’t very innovative (it’s a classic medieval/fantasy one), the core aspect of the game, the choices a player can make, are well implemented and feel impactful. The achievements, specializations on different abilities and different possible endings increase the replay value of the game. And it’s totally free to play.
Kempton, Philip (2017): The Great Tournament, Version 1.0.8, Choice of Games LLC, available on Apple Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore.