I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Descent: Journeys in the Dark book The Doom of Fallowhearth, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

Secondly I am a friend of Robbie’s on Facebook, and whilst we aren’t best buds, we do interact with each other on occasion and I consider him a class person.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What’s is Descent: Journeys in the Dark

Simply put Descent: Journeys in the Dark is good old fashioned dungeon crawler whose linage goes all the way back to Heroquest.

Based very much on the Doom board game published by Fantasy Flight Games, you can see influences from across the gaming hobby, with bits from Space Hulk and Lord of the Rings being identifiable.

It’s set in the world of Terrinoth, a setting shared with Runewars, Runeage and a few other games and RPGs published by Fantasty Flight Games.

It’s a high fantasy universe and you will recognise many of the tropes and races seen in other similar fantasy style settings. It’s not particularly unique, but it is fairly well developed and interesting.

Descent is the dungeon crawler game in that universe, with one player being the evil overlord of the dungeon and the others taking in the tiles of the hero’s.

For a dungeon crawler, let’s be honest it’s one of the best out there, and the only reason it’s not in my collection is that Lindsay and Megan aren’t as enthusiastic about high fantasy as I am!

The Story

I am gonna be upfront about this, the book is at the same time, familiar and comfortable whilst still being new and innovative. It’s contradictory but it works.

The basic plot is that a band of adventurers are reunited to try and find Lady Katheryn the daughter of the rulers of one of Terrinoths baronies. She had been sent to the northern frontier town of Fallowhearth to learn how to rule, and prepare her to take up her mother’s position.

The adventurers are three of the Borderlands Four, characters who fit common tropes, yet subvert them in very interesting ways. There is the human rogue, who just wants to go back home and sit down, the dwarven alchemist who is mainly interested in blowing stuff up and the orc pathfinder who is the levelheaded leader of the pack and probably the most sensible of them.

The tone of the story is gritty and dark, it’s a very modern take on the old sword and sorcery story from my youth. There is certainly a shared history between the characters, and some bitterness, weariness and regrets too, and whilst we don’t exactly get a full and complete backstory, we don’t need it because it feels so natural.

This story is a tale of revenge and love, and asks the question, how far would you go for someone you love, how deep would you go?

Conclusion

This is a surprisingly emotional story and parts of it literally had my heart crushed, and I was moved to tears as well.

This is generally a very by the numbers story and you pick it up and start it thinking it’s gonna be just a pulpy fantasy adventure. But it’s not, it’s deeply emotional and shows that a good writer and make a familiar and well trod genre, fresh and invigorating.

I’d also loved that we had some really good normalised LGBT representation in there, which felt very natural, very right and fitted so well with the story.

Solid 5 out of 5 stars.

The book is released out now in North America and available in the U.K. on the 26th November.