The Heart of Fire (DestinyQuest) Paperback – July 1, 2014
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About the Author
- Publisher : Gollancz (July 1, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 722 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0575118784
- ISBN-13 : 978-0575118782
- Item Weight : 1.22 pounds
- Dimensions : 5 x 1.9 x 8 inches
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The maps are still a beautiful asset, drawing you in to a setting that is vastly different from before. Although the fairy tale elements of the first book's were fun, the story presented here feels more original with choices that seem to matter more. It's less "let's see where this goes" and more "how will my actions affect these characters". Seeing what this book s able to achieve makes me excited for what's in store for this series.
General impression is that Heart of Fire is a much much better book than Legion of Shadow, and definitely an awesome experience. Improvements include:
* A far better item set. The Speed curve is much more sensible than Legion of Shadow, and in general the items are balanced against each other much more effectively.
* Battles were significantly more interesting, but on the whole I didn't find them very difficult. In only one battle did I have to use any items - a full heal potion vs Krakatoa.
* The quest interactions - key words, weird items and tradeoffs - made the game very enjoyable. Legion of Shadow was much less interconnected. The saga of the Glaive of Shadows in particular was awesome. I ended up breaking mine for the Runed Rod.
* Storytelling was tighter, more riveting, more exotic. Definitely a great read.
On the whole, a big step up from Legion of Shadows. I can't wait to play Eye of Winter's Fury.
There is still no good reason to build an Armor hero. An armor hero has much lower Brawn/Magic and their battles take a lot longer, but most significant battles involve a time-component - you take X damage every turn ignoring armor. In those circumstances the Armor hero is hosed. I've played zero-armor heroes primarily and there hasn't been a single fight yet in either LoS or HoF that I was wishing for armor.
Also, the proliferation of abilities is becoming a bit excessive. Between innate abilities, career abilities, multi-ability items and runes, I ended up juggling 22 abilities. By comparison in Legion of Shadow I ended up with 16.
Other then that, I recommend this to everyone who wants a game, adeventure and a never ending story.
I loved the first DestinyQuest book, and The Heart of Fire is even better. It's less combat-oriented, and the story lines are much better. The choices you make in the book affect who your character becomes, what they can do, and where they can go. One quest has three different ways you can go, each way having different consequences, battles, and possibilities for loot. One of the worst parts of the old Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf gamebooks is, if you didn't go a certain way and/or get a certain item, you may not be able to finish the book. The DQ books offer you many different ways to equip your character, none of them necessary to defeat foes and reach the end. There are some items where you need two or more different things to happen in order to get them. You might miss out, but you can still reach the end and then try to get it next time. And you will want to play again.
Top reviews from other countries
The adventure bears the same structure to the previous one. It is divided into three interrelated ‘acts’ each represented by an interactive map that allows the reader to choose from a selection of destinations, quests and monster hunts. In this way it means the reader, at least to a certain extent, is able to choose what they do and in what order. As well as progressing the overall story, the purpose of these missions/quests is essentially for the adventurer to find equipment that builds and upgrades their character.
Each of the three ‘acts’ takes the adventurer to a different territory to explore. These are more varied in nature in ‘The Heart of Fire’ than they are in ‘The Legion of Shadow’. The second act takes you on a wonderful exploration of a tropically forested Central American like environment littered with the remnants of ancient civilisations in a Mesoamerican style. It gives this part of the adventure a slight Indiana Jones feel. Meanwhile, with allusions to Dante, the third act involves an atmospheric venture underground into the ruins of an ancient Dwarven city. The third act is somewhat more restrictive than other Destiny Quest acts as the adventurer is forced to move around in a much more linear way due to quests not opening until you complete others. It is a restriction on the freedom of movement/choice that characterises Destiny Quest but it does create a greater intensity for this final act.
Much in keeping with the plot to ‘The Legion of Shadow’ the reader starts with very little awareness of whom and what they actually are. It’s a common starting point that serves the Destiny Quest style well. As the story progresses the adventurer discovers more about themselves and their identity whilst they grow their avatar by upgrading their character’s equipment and hence their abilities. This does sometimes lead to a ‘string of battles’ scenario. The effect is less than that in ‘The Legion of Shadow’ though with the battles divided throughout the adventure better and there being more variety to them.
The upgrading of the character still suffers from a lack of equal balancing, it being essential really that you ensure you concentrate on SPEED and then on either one or the other between BRAWN and MAGIC. It is a disappointing aspect off this system that the attribute of ARMOUR becomes a little irrelevant, especially as the adventure progresses. You could never gain enough armour to withstand the more powerful attacks effectively and, besides, the most irritating attacks tend to be those that ignore ARMOUR.
The only real change/addition to the gameplay is the introduction of the team battles. They provide some exceptionally tough battles and allow you to battle a foe with another playable character. This can be done utilising a friend’s character if you know someone else who owns a copy of the book or, in an interesting twist that makes it beneficial to have played the first Destiny Quest, you can use the character you played with in ‘The Legion of Shadow’. If you haven’t played ‘The Legion of Shadow’ the book contains a full draft adventure sheet for a substitute you can use. These team battles are a good addition and provide some of the most entertaining combat.
It will take you quite some time and it is so rewarding because of it! Understand this and only buy this book when you think you have the time. But do make time! I reckon skipping the battles is cheating yourself of a fantastic gaming experience. I will never forget battling the Damned Headless Horseman!
Of course, if you fail battles and die then it's not all over. You can either start again back in town, start a different quest, or attempt the same battle again. At first I thought this was a bit weak. But after playing I have realised that dying in game books can be a real drag. Adding this "Save" mechanism, much like a computer game, keeps the story moving forward whilst still retaining the win or lose tension of battling foes.
Of course, it's not all fighting. I really enjoyed scouring a cursed village back and forth, attempting to concoct a potion step by step to cure an ally.
To sum up. This is the best game book I've played unless book three is better. I certainly hope so.
However I have to make a disclaimer here, due to a new arrival I haven't got a great deal of free time so I didn't actually play through the combats in this latest book even though I did for most of the Legion of Shadow, which was fun but became quite lengthy and difficult towards the end. One of the strengths of combat in DQ is that the author gives many combats a unique twist for example in LoS there was a gigantic Centipede that became more frantic as you destroyed each of its armoured segments.
So what did I think? Without wanting to give too much away about the plot I'll say that it is an Epic tale of revenge and betrayal involving men, ancient dwarven cities and dark forces. Your character has visions and the fate of the world of Valeron will be changed irrevocably by your character's actions. During this tale the protagonist undergoes some unwelcome metamorphoses that also grant him extra powers. I found participating in / uncovering the story to be great fun and the quest for salvation / revenge drew me along. HoF is a genuinely epic tome, and initially a little imposing, and the writing is at times equally epic, with some bone crushing combat encounters with titanic beasts and at other times provides comic relief with some humourous sly references to pop culture, one of which made me laugh out loud when I read it. As the protagonist's quest progresses the tone of the quest becomes correspondingly darker and more desperate. One little problem and one of the reasons that I haven't given this 5 stars as is, is that I noticed was that a few errors slipped through the net which is understandable in such a mammoth work, however in the correct references are listed in the forum on the Destiny Quest site. This isn't major deal but I hope will be corrected in subsequent print runs (if it hasn't already). Overall I would highly recommend Heart of Fire to either older gamebook fans who remember the initial wave, or teens who would enjoy it. DQ was very fun to read, and I'm looking forward to the next tome in the series already!
Fast-forward 30 years and these books are now seen as a bit of a relic - after all, nobody plays a game today if it's not on a computer or a games console do they? And weren't those 'choos your own adventure' books a bit childish anyway?
Well, here we have the DestinyQuest and games in book form are back with a bang - and a very modern twist!
The author (Michael J Ward) has taken the best elements of the modern computer MMORPG (mass multiplayer online role playing game) such as 'World of Warcraft' and they have seamlessly blended it with the old 80s style gamebook format. To wrap everything up in an appealing little parcel he has also given us a cracking, well-written fantasy story to boot. Yes - it's not just a game, this fella can actually write!
So I ordered the two DestinyQuest titles and off I went down memory lane - only now it had been given a new. exciting and modern refit. Now there was an air of mystery and I was able to choose the path and career in life that my hero decided to take. Would he become a Warrior Gladiator? A Rogue Swordmaster? Or a Mage Pyromancer? Or any one of more than a dozen other choice each of which would have a direct affect on the story and also on the gear and the loot that I could take with me - and the gear and the loot is king is in this book. There are literally hundreds of different items that you can find scattered throughout the story and you can equip these as you wish (your character will have a slot for head gear, gloves, main weapon, boots etc). Each piece of gear will boost your characters strenghhs and skills and will often provide your character with a new skill, ability, power or spell.
This all becomes important when your hero finds themselves in combat. At this point there is a very simple dice rolling mechanic that is used to resolve the combat - so simple that a baby could learn it. However, the simplicity is deceptive because once you start playing your powers and spells in combat and stringing some of your abilities together in various combos (whilst your opponents do the same), the combat becomes deeply tactical particularly as you reach the end of the book.
Add into the mix a map-based quest system (where the quests are colour-coded for difficulty) and a computer game-like 'save' and 'heal' system and you have an amazingly deep gaming experience here. The replay ability is fantastic as well because you will never create the same hero or make the same choices twice (and you can choose two different moral directions to take your hero in as well).
But this is more than just a game. If you like a good fantasy epic, this book certainly delivers as a great story in its own right.
If there was anything that I would say could be taken as a negative, it is that some of the later game fights can become too difficult or tedious if you have not done a very good job of kitting out your hero. But that's a really minor niggle as you can just go back and rebuild slightly differently and then try again.
So all in all, heartily recommended! Five stars.