Talisman: Digital Edition Review
+ No questioning ruleset
+ Online and local multiplayer
- Playing with AI can be frustrating
If you’re a fan of board games, you may have heard of a title called Talisman. Released all the way back in 1983, the same year Nintendo released the Mario Bros. arcade game, Talisman is a competitive role playing game featuring many of the same fantasy settings as other tabletop adventures. And now, a whole 31 years after Talisman was originally released, Nomad Games has brought Talisman to Steam with the release of Talisman: Digital Edition.
If you haven’t read our preview on Talisman: Digital Edition, you might be confused with what Talisman actually is. It can be kind of confusing, so I’m going to keep this brief. Talisman is a competitive fantasy game where the goal is to get your character to the center of the game board and collect a magical talisman. This is easier said than done as you’ll need to some decent dice rolls, luck, and some thoughtful strategy to survive.
But at first, you’ll need to pick your character. There are 14 different characters to choose from, as well as several that can be purchased as a part of “The Reaper” expansion pack. Each character has a completely unique set of skills that give them certain advantages. For example, animals can be charmed by the Minstrel and dragons will not attack him, whereas the Wizard gains a spell every time he casts one. In the traditional rule set, each player starts with a random character which means you’ll have to adapt your strategy on the fly.
On your way around the board, you’ll need to pass through three different tiers with each one getting progressively more deadly. To add to this, you’ll also have to draw various Adventure Cards, which are essentially random events or items. These can range from finding pieces of items, meeting up with followers, or encountering a number of enemies. At the same time, you’ll need to watch out for both spaces on the board as haphazardly wandering about will likely end up with you getting lost in a forest, or losing a life in the crags.
Other players, whether AI or human, are perhaps the biggest obstacle in your way to the Talisman. Too many times have other players stolen the gold I was hording, or pick up a neat card only to have it used against me later on. As a newcomer to the Talisman series, the AI is formidable for the first couple games. However, the AI is by no means perfect and they’ll frequently pick inferior cards when given a choice. In order to really enjoy Talisman, it’s best to play online with real people to get that competitive edge going. There’s definitely an element of strategy that’s involved, and conflict is typically impossible to avoid.
In fact, one of the best reasons to play Talisman: Digital Edition is that there’s no questioning the ruleset. Typically in a board game like this, a player might have issues with the rules and contest it. That’s simply not possible in Talisman: Digital Edition, which means everything players do and have the option to do is in line with the rules of the game. However, that doesn’t mean newcomers might not get lost as things could be explained better. The tutorial takes sort of a “learn as you play” approach, which isn’t bad by any means but the rules are more complex than that of a typical board game. It’s especially confusing when you’re playing with AI as they move through (questionable) decisions very quickly so it can be hard to follow what they’re doing.
One thing I think should be mentioned is how long it takes for a single game of Talisman to be completed. You’re looking at upwards of 2 hours to finish a single game. This is a very long time for some people, and as such it can be hard to play through a complete game online. I had many people drop out halfway through a game while playing online, which feels like time spent wasted. This is hardly the fault of the game and isn’t a problem if you know a group of dedicated players, but it’s unfortunate nonetheless.
Seeing as how this is a digitized board game, there are zero 3D effects and models within Talisman: Digital Edition. Where some people may see this as dated and unappealing, I personally think the high quality artwork makes up for the lack of visual pizzazz. Every character, map tiles, and adventure card has a unique picture and every last one of them is professionally done. In combat, there are a couple of small special effects but for the most part it is as you’d see in a board game. In the end, the art style keeps the game moving quickly and in the end makes it more interesting.
There are several pieces of DLC available already, including “The Reaper” Expansion set, and at least 8 extra expansion sets coming within the following months. It’s all detailed in Talisman: Digital Edition’s Season Pass. From my experience, the Reaper Expansion set is shared with other players any online game, so not every player will have to purchase it.
Buy, Try, or Avoid?
In the end, Talisman: Digital Edition is a faithful recreation of the classic board game. If you’ve played Talisman on a board or are a fan of tabletop RPGs, odds are you’ll have a blast playing with people from all over the world and I easily recommend purchasing it. If you aren’t a fan of tabletop or haven’t played it, be aware that Talisman: Digital Edition is not like your typical videogame. It’s more akin to a board game, and therefore is a sort of niche title. I’d recommend at least trying it through Steam’s Family Share if possible, or watch extended gameplay trailers (or the video review at the top of this page!) to get an idea of what to expect.
If interested, you can purchase Talisman: Digital Edition from Steam.