OK, time for a basic palaeontology opener metaphor, I’m afraid. You ever heard of a ‘residing fossil’? It’s not an enemy from Deathtrap Dungeon, alas, however an organism that’s remained nearly unchanged for big stretches of time. The archetypal residing fossil is the coelacanth, a fish that first appeared within the fossil file getting on for half a billion years in the past, with thick, stumpy fins poised proper on the cusp of changing into garbage legs. However, it by no means took after its taxonomic cousins and invaded the land – as an alternative, it continued with that very same liminal physique plan, within the evolutionary equal of being endlessly on the point of sneezing, till it received binned with the dinosaurs 65 million years in the past. And then, off the coast of South Africa in 1938, a fisherman caught one. Unchanged. To have a look at a coelacanth is to look into deep time, and despite the fact that it’s not a lot cop as an precise fish, it’s past fascinating as a chunk of residing historical past.
So Deathtrap Dungeon, yeah? It’s that. Only it’s a recreation reasonably than a fish. And reasonably than offering a haunting glimpse down by the yggdrasilian roots of tetrapod biology, it’s a showcase of how concurrently charming and garbage 1980s trad fantasy was.
It’s an FMV recreation, a format that’s a little bit of a residing fossil itself, regardless of one thing of a latest comeback, and it’s primarily based on the legendary Fighting Fantasy gamebook of the identical identify, authored by Monsterpreneur and Games Workshop co-founder Ian Livingstone. Well, I say it’s primarily based on it, when what I actually imply is that it is it. It’s Deathtrap Dungeon, learn out to you phrase for phrase by the eminently likeable Eddie Marsan, with department factors marked by clickable on-screen choices. It even options DD’s authentic illustrations by the unmistakable Iain McCaig, introduced every so often as sepia-tinted vignettes.