I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Descent: Journeys in the Dark book The Raiders of Bloodwood by Davide Mana, 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.
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 roles 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!
In this epic tale, the Uthuk Y’llan are sweeping across the realms of Terrinoth, killing, burning and destroying all in their path.
This demonic powered horde of killers is lead by a murderous Beastmaster, who has a plan, a plan to take the forest of Bloodwood and control the mysterious source of power at its heart, so that he can destroy Terrinoth and bring all the world under his control.
But fleeing the destruction of their home city, a pair of humans, an orc and a catfolk, band together, and with the aid of an elven hunter, are thrust into an adventure to save the Bloodwood and by extension the world.
Traveling from the world they know, into the realms of the elves, this misfit band, will see wonders and horrors, and have to dig deep into themselves and fight the monsters that are the Uthuk Y’llan.
This is a classic, adventure story, the kind of adventure you no doubt have played around a table with D20s with bottles of Pepsi and bowls of Wotsits as a nipper!
And that is why this story is so good, because it just hits that sweet spot of nostalgia and with fantastic writing, it really brings to life the words on the page. I really did feel pulled into the story and found myself putting off sleep to just read another chapter!
The characters, get quite a bit of padding out, with perhaps not the deepest of backstories, but enough so that you get a real feel for them.
Whilst the synopsis talks about them having to overcome their differences, I found that they seemed to become friends rather quickly, helping each other and being comrades to people they met when thrown in the mud together.
They only briefly feel safe, and the story moves along at a brisk pace, just like your RPG sessions.
The characters are all really interesting, but I did finds myself enjoying the elderly teacher Emery most, his almost childlike wonder, as for the first time in his life he finds himself travelling in the wild and seeing things he had only read about in books was really cool.
I really hope we get to meet these characters again.
This is a wonderful book and I am gonna give it 4.5 stars out of 5.
I do worry that some people will see my reviews for Aconyte as overly positive, but to be honest, apart from one stinker, all their books have been amazing!
The Raiders of Bloodwood is out now as a paperback, ebook and audiobook!