by Joe Dever, fantasy (1993)
Red Fox, £4.99, ISBN 0-09-998450-4
The Curse Of Naar, the twentieth gamebook in the interminable Lone Wolf series, finally sees you doing the absurd: you are now going to challenge the dark god Naar in his realm. In a way, it probably makes sense since Lone Wolf is easily the most powerful superhero in Magnamund by now. By the way, this review contains spoilers for the previous campaign, so you have better avert your eyes if you do not want to be spoiled.
Ready? Okay, first, the plot. After defeating your doppelganger and escaping Naar's champion Kekataag the Avenger in Wolf's Bane, you realize that you cannot let Naar have the Moonstone of the Shianti. Maybe one day you will learn of how Naar manages to get his hands on the Moonstone, because you won't discover any answer here. Anyway, the Moonstone allows him to open Shadow Gates at any location he chooses on Magnamund, therefore allowing Naar to keep sending his foul armies into Magnamund. Conveniently enough, Lord Rimaoh and the Elder Dessi have with them a book that is pretty much a travelogue of the Plane of Darkness. Therefore, without even a chance to relax since your last adventure, these Elder Magi slavemasters pretty much push you into another Shadow Gate so that you can once again save the world by giving Naar the finger.
The Plane of Darkness turns out to be a downsized version of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons's version of Hell: you start out at one domain belonging to Naar's champion at the lowest rung of the hierarchy, you discover the item to move on to the next domain, and do so until you finally reach Naar's domain. Initially, things are interesting as Nza'pok's domain is truly dangerous and interesting, but as you progress through the Plane of Darkness, the subsequent domains become less and less interesting. Indeed, the campaign becomes increasingly rushed to the point that when you reach the domain of the most high-ranking of Naar's champion, Avarvae the Tormentress, you spend only a fraction of the time you spend in Nza'pok's domain.
It goes without saying that you will have a tough time with this campaign if you are dipping into it for the first time, but anyone who has played from day one will fare better as his or her Lone Wolf will be strengthened by his many disciplines as well as bonuses from Lore Circles, weapons, and Special Items to the point that the difficulty level is challenging but fair.
The Curse Of Naar is a decent and serviceable campaign, but its increasingly rushed pacing makes it a disappointing conclusion to another phase the Lone Wolf saga. Compared to, say, The Masters Of Darkness, this one is lacking that special epic sense of closure that should have been present here.
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