I’ve played a number of geeky board games in my time; I enjoy anything from the farcical race of Greed Quest to the grand strategic planning of Risk (and everything in between). Though there are board games that have recently enjoyed the success of being adapted to a digital platform, I was unsurprised to find that Talisman, a classic board game almost entirely based on luck of the dice roll, did not translate well.
Talisman: Digital Edition allows you to play with a Hero chosen from a variety of different classes, each with their own unique attributes, in addition to stats in strength and craft. Collecting objects and followers on the way, you must travel around the board, strengthening your stats and attempting to move inwards to the centre, where you can access a spell that will eventually kill off all other players on the board.
This edition comes with a Prologue tutorial, which coaches you through the basic premise and teaches you how to access the interface. Well, I think that’s what it was doing anyway; it was difficult to tell from the minute writing that almost seemed embarrassed to be taking up the space it occupied.
In fact, the whole system felt like a pedantic pencil-pusher who was unwilling to engage in any sort of fun. Every single action needed confirmation from the player (even when there was no choice but to progress!) which really slowed down an already snail-paced game. Parts of the UI seemed unnecessary, and, unfortunately, did nothing to brighten up the uninspiring graphics. I appreciate that there is an element of nostalgia in attempting to capture the look of the original board, but even your character figure is greyed out when moving across spaces.
I was hoping that playing the online multiplayer mode would liven up the experience. There have been a number of digilitalized board games that have achieved success recently, my personal favourite being Small World. However, playing games like Small World against AI and other players are enjoyable because they are strategic; whilst waiting for your turn, you’re scanning the abilities of the next race you might pinch, or plotting your epic invasion across an enemy’s territory. Playing Talisman online was as about exciting as watching my Nan complete a Sudoku puzzle. You essentially roll a die, pick a card, and then watch three other players do the same. For hours.
And it really does take a long time. If you’ve ever played the board game, you’ll be familiar with the hours of hopeful circling in a vain effort to obtain the eponymous Talisman that will allow you to reach the Crown of Command at the centre of the board: this hasn’t changed in the digital edition. However, while playing the board game, you’re probably surrounded by friends or family, maybe some snacks and beers, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the time waiting for your turn scheming with others or laughing at the misfortune of someone’s crap die roll. In Talisman: Digital Edition, the only distraction is the mindless drivel that fills your chat box.
I really have no idea why anyone would decide to make a digital version of Talisman. For anyone who is considering playing it, I would say: get some friends.
I’m obviously joking. I would say: buy the board game. And get some friends.
[+Evokes nostalgia for Talisman fans] [-Bland design and graphics] [-Serious pacing issues] [-Mundane and uneventful gameplay] [-Awkward User Interface] [-Needs entirely no skill to play]