Caverns Of The Snow Witch
by Ian Livingstone, fantasy (2003, reissue)
Wizard Books, £4.99, ISBN 1-84046-432-1


Ian Livingstone's Caverns Of The Snow Witch is pretty extraordinary in that it is easily one of the worst gamebooks in the Fighting Fantasy series. Not only is this gamebook extraordinarily difficult, it is also an exercise in utter boredom as this campaign is completely devoid of imaginative elements.

You start out as a mercenary hired by Big Jim Sun, a merchant who brings his caravans up north to the icy wastes of Icefinger Mountains (there's a joke in here somewhere) to trade with the natives of that region. You arrive at the outpost to discover a scene of gruesome massacre. Perhaps a monstrous beast is behind this? At any rate, you are tasked to locate and slay this beast. Eventually you slay this beast, but you will then become sidetracked into locating the Crystal Caves of the Snow Witch who is plotting to cover the world in ice.

This campaign is spectacularly awful because it is a thoroughly lazy expansion of a much shorter version that was initially published in an issue of Warlock magazine. By expansion, we are talking about Ian Livingstone carelessly tossing in an unimaginative linear series of encounters with clichéd monsters before putting you into a bizarre race against time where you must wander around in random, stricken by a deadly disease, until you manage to find a cure by sleeping on top of a mountain top. Yes, I'm serious. The Snow Witch actually plays a small role in this campaign as the Crystal Caves leg of the campaign takes up only one third of the whole campaign. The rest is just encounter after encounter even as Mr Livingstone indulges in his fetish for four-feet tall bearded midgets. Nothing against dwarves, honestly, but you'd think a fan of dwarves like Mr Livingstone would make those stumpy midgets more interesting and useful. Oh, there's an elf here too and yes, he's just as annoying and useless as you can probably imagine. The opponents can be monstrously tough, which won't be so bad if nearly all of such encounters are nothing more than brainless hack and slash filler moments.

To conclude, the "plot" is rubbish, the fun factor is nonexistent, and the whole campaign is flat, unimaginative, and even laughable. Check out paragraph 281, where you build an igloo by carving ice blocks from the mountain using your bare hands, for some good laugh at the author's expense. Giving Caverns Of The Snow Witch one oogie is actually too good a treatment one can offer to this turd of a gamebook.

One oogie!


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