The Gray Barbarian is a book game written by Daniele Daccò and published by No Lands Comics in 2018, on the occasion of Lucca Comics and Games. This is the first issue of the Blood Blood series and the author's first work in the field of game books. To the drawings we find Melissa Spandri, an artist capable of interpreting the author's thoughts with simple but impactful works. The release is part of the new trend of game books and their lucky return. Many other authors, who have become famous over the years for their works, are experiencing a new season of gold. Will Daniele Daccò manage to leave a mark on the market?
Plot de The Gray Barbarian
The nameless barbarian lives isolated from the rest of the world, enjoying his old age and the small jobs that keep him alive every day. Once he had been a great mercenary, capable of making the enemy tremble before him, but in the end time had prevailed. Mirroring himself in the waterways, with his aching back and his joints cracked, the Barbarian is forced to see only a shadow of himself and what he was. He constantly dreams of the day when he saved the beautiful and distinguished queen Ardesia from the jaws of a fair. This encounter often recurs in his memoirs, perhaps because of a choice he regrets having taken immediately afterwards.
Many versions of the same story
The Gray Barbarian it can boast 351 paragraphs, of obviously variable length, which accompany the reader through several parallel stories. Sometimes the path may intertwine with other timelines and, in fact, many roads lead to the same conclusion. However replayability is a strong point of this product and, as such, it must be acknowledged that although a game can last a maximum of a couple of hours, the reader can take different paths.
Hurry fights, maybe a little too much
The fighting de The Gray Barbarian they are very fast, lasting a couple of paragraphs at most, but many times they deprive the reader of the taste of the game. Most of the time, the player will only have to choose his action and read the result in the next paragraph. This can become frustrating, because what might have seemed like a logical attack can result in rapid death with the justification of "old age slows you down" or "old age weakens you".
Look between the pages: Cheating or Metanarrating?
Certainly the most important mechanics introduced by Daccò in his first work is the possibility of looking through the pages. Although it is introduced as the legalized possibility of cheating on choices, discovering the safest or "best" one, it soon becomes something more. The author takes these spaces to address the reader directly, inviting him to reflect and sharing ideas and judgments with him. Towards the end, this mechanic will create something wonderful, creating a direct dialogue between Author, Reader and Barbarian.
The Gray Barbarian it marks the beginning of something that we cannot yet fully judge but which attracts the reader's attention. Although it is only the author's first work in this sense, we are eager to find out what the future has in store. Daniele Daccò must not however take this work as a point of arrival but only of departure. Although the ideas are there and they are also remarkable, we expect much more in the future, especially in terms of choices and length. We hope that the excellent ideas introduced with this work will be carried forward in the future.
You can find The Gray Barbarian to this link!