Grab The Games: Talisman: Digital Edition

Talisman is a classic boardgame, its first edition dates back to 1983, I'm sure you know it (but if you don't, don't worry, I'll explain the basics). It's still one of my favourite boardgames, sure there are games with more tactical depth, but Talisman is beautifully done and so easy to grasp that somebody who has not played a boardgame in their life can sit down to it and grasp all the rules in 10 minutes. While in its board version it can be played alone, in a kind of solitaire way (and this is released as Talisman: the Prologue, which you will get for free when buying DE) it's most fun when played with other people. I spent many an evening playing with my wife, but most fun were the evenings when we were joined by some friends. I am sure we all know that sometimes it is not that easy to get 4 like-minded people, who have up to 4 free hours in one room. :) Talisman: Digital Edition is not a game based on Talisman, it's a faithful conversion, so you are still playing the boardgame but without all the aforementioned organizational headaches. Let's see how well it fairs on the PC.

So many heroes to choose from :)

You begin the game by either choosing a hero or going for a random selection. The game supports maximum 4 players (a pity, using the board version you can easily play with 6, these would work even better on PC, without crowding around the board), these can be other humans over the internet, local players or AI. If you play with somebody on the same PC that person will get a little of second rate treatment, the game reads your name from steam but there is no way to change names of other players (so they'll be e.g. player 2). AI players are not bad, the AI is definitely very aggressive and will keep you on your toes. The biggest issue with it is that AI doesn't understand waiting and will e.g. cast at once spells that are useless at the moment but could change the course of the game later on. The choice of the character to play determines your starting stats and gives you a few special abilities. Talisman is a very luck dependent game, while your choices do matter, luck can make or break you. This has a good side the play is unpredictable and different enough every time, and your wizard may become a proper warrior in the course of gameplay. :) The same as with the original the map is beautiful. It is divided into 3 regions, you start in the outer one, move around it, encounter monsters, find items and fight with other players. When you are stronger you go in the inner part where the gameplay is similar but more difficult. At the end you travel into the innermost part where after a set of incredibly difficult challenges you get into the very middle and obtain a spell that you can use to destroy other players and win the game (I'm obviously just glancing through all that, assuming most of you have some vague knowledge of Talisman at least, also DE does a very good job of explaining all the rules by showing you parts of them when a given situation in encountered for the first time). All of this works very well in digital version, and the feel of a boardgame is preserved, but there are a few quirks that mar the whole experience. There are two zoom levels in the game, with zoom-out it is very hard to see what is happening on the board, if there are any cards there (like undefeated enemies) you can barely see them. When you zoom-in on the other hand you can only see one region with the rest of the map almost not visible... I would very much like to have one more, middle level.

There's a dragon there. Really. But I remember that, can't see it with this zoom-out

Next is the use of colours. Next to the each player you can see to rows of numbers: in round frame (strength (red), craft (blue), life (green), fate (violet), gold (well, gold)) and in a square frame (spells (blue), items (red), followers (green), trophies (gold). Their close proximity and reusing colors means that if you are playing with a friend for whom this is the first time you can't just say “your life is the green number” as there are two green numbers. Honestly I'd think there are more than 5 colours...

Everything in a region is easy to see with zoom-in, but you can't see the rest of the board...

While the Talisman starts very simple e.g. when fighting you toss a d6 and add to it your strength, than compare with a similar throw of your enemy, with time you need to keep track of items, followers, spells and other modifiers. More than once have I been in a situation where somebody just forgot to count something... The digital edition takes care of that nicely, everything is added for you, but usually without obscuring what influenced the final numbers. At the other times though the DE complicates needlessly things that should be simple. Let's say you step on a region, draw an adventure card and see it is an enemy. There are special abilities, spells and followers that allow you to evade combat, but in 90% of the situations you can't do anything like that and just have to fight. Still, the game asks you what to do, and because you can't do anything else you have to click on the single option available. Another example is using items, items that can be used at a given moment are displayed at the bottom of the screen, but even if there is only one, when you click on it you will a list of all your items that you will have to scroll to find the one you need. Also there are time when they could have deviated a little from the limitations of the boardgame. E.g. there are special fights due to some events (like a fight with a drunk in a tavern) that don't give you trophies (which you can later use to boost your attributes. In the board version this is because the cards just don't exist, but in digital version giving the player these trophies wouldn't be a problem. There are more situations like this, sometimes the game is nicely streamlined but more often than not it seems to fight you, hiding things that should be easier to get to. But let's bear in mind, none of these faults will prevent you from enjoying the game. The game is so good it just makes me wish for it to be perfect. :) If you like Talisman, or just boardgames in general, Talisman: DE is a great choice. Especially since the traditional boxed editions are around 3 times more expensive (depending on where you live) than the digital version.

Mikolaj W


Log in so you can leave a comment