.I was never one to get overly excited about board games. Perhaps I always just preferred the high tech solution in video games? Maybe it’s due to the downtime between turns? It’s a bit ironic considering I grew up in an age before video gaming happened. Also ironic is that all my adult children enjoy “game nights” and all types of board games. So it’s with this sense of “board gaming avoidance” that I volunteered to give Nomad Games‘ Talisman: Digital Edition for the Nintendo Switch a once over and share my thoughts in this Quick Hit Review.
Where To Begin?
I went into this review not knowing anything about Talisman the board game. It apparently has a long history dating back to its origins about thirty-seven years ago in 1983. The original game was a fantasy board game designed for two to six players and originally designed and produced by Games Workshop. After doing some post-gameplay research I had gotten the sense that Talisman was as pivotal as the Dungeon & Dragons series.
Going into Talisman: Digital Edition with no prior knowledge of the board game itself probably didn’t help. Initially, I felt a sense of it being a bit overwhelmed.
In the simplest terms this “digital edition” is a video game representation of the Talisman board game. You can play against five computer (CPU) controlled virtual players or five friends locally or online. If you play with other real people the game sports a “hot-seat mode”. This is in case you’re all in the same room and want to pass the Nintendo Switch around and play. Another good piece of news is that this Nintendo Switch version of Talisman: Digital Edition, is fully cross-platform compatible with the Steam, iOS, and Android version. This means players can play with friends who have other platforms.
You start by picking how many players you want to play against. I went with the computer-controlled option and took the recommendation of three other CPU controlled players. You get to pick your character class and the class of the other CPU players. Classes fall within the typical fantasy game setting, i.e. warrior, druid, wizard, etc. There are several character packs you can buy as add-ons that allow for some more varied and interesting gameplay.
Gameplay in Talisman: Digital Edition proceeds with each player taking turns rolling dice and moving the number of squares in either direction. When you land on a square you’ll then follow the directions on the square you landed on. Many times this is drawing a card, rolling dice again to see an event outcome, battling a virtual enemy, etc.
A lot of times things will become persistent on these squares during the entire game which affects other players that land on that square. The primary objective is to get to the center of the board, i.e. the “Crown Of Command” before the other players. The game board is divided into three regions so basically you travel in circles on the three rings of the board raising your level, increasing your lives, acquiring equipment, etc. You need to find a Talisman card though before you can enter the “Crown of Command”.
A single game can conceptually go on for quite a while in excess of 60+ turns. When you’re playing a single game against computer opponents this is a lot of time spent watching the computer play itself. There is a setting to turn some of this off but then it doesn’t feel as “alive”. So the one drawback to a single-player game is a lot of “downtime” during a turn. Thankfully the game allows you to save a game in progress.
Some Nice Additional Features
The game has expandability which leads to re-playability. This Talisman: Digital Edition includes three, of the thirteen existing, expansions in the form of The City, The Sacred Pool, and The Frostmarch. Expansions add new cards and regions to explore. You can also buy additional character packs, currently six-packs.
The game also allows you to set “house rules” and choose a different set of “end game” objectives and there are a ton of them built in!
In undocked mode at times, there is a lot of text crammed in which translates to a small font size. Otherwise, the game had no issues in undocked mode. The game does have a very strong fantasy-theme to it and is chock-full of D&D like terms, e.g. alignment, runes, etc. so if this makes you uncomfortable you’ve been warned.
Bottom line, Talisman: Digital Editions has the capability of being an entertaining top-notch experience if you’re into fantasy board games. It certainly provides a great on-the-go opportunity and, if you don’t mind the nature of the game’s downtime, a great single-player experience. Now whether or not it’s a great replacement for a group of friends playing in one room versus the real board game you’ll have to decide. But in the meantime, given the quarantining and stay-at-home order’s world, we’re currently living in, this could be a terrific choice to play online with your friends over a Zoom voice chat session!
Compare To: Talisman: Origins
Note: A Nintendo Switch eShop code was provided for the purpose of this review.