There seems to be a buzz around the Critical IF gamebooks, and in particular Heart of Ice. Here's yet another rave review, this time on the Solo Adventures with Livi channel. You want spoilers? OK, it ends with, "Solidly a 10 out of 10."
You can't please everybody. One comment below Livi's video was "Let the buyer beware." Yikes! Well, actually that's always good advice when picking up any book. Another comment, this time about Fabled Lands, raises an interesting point. Kosteri X said: "I found the Fabled Lands demo devoid of any emotion and all the NPCs were lifeless words. [...] A few more adjectives can go a long way of painting a scene or motif. Most story writers for board games fail to put any effort into painting a picture."
The template Jamie and I used for writing Fabled Lands was Eric Goldberg's boardgame Tales of the Arabian Nights. The descriptions therein are economical but effective, allowing Mr Goldberg to fit hundreds of quests into the space most gamebooks use for one little dungeon. Since each Fabled Lands book has to cover an entire country and allow freedom of choice and almost unlimited play, we knew we couldn't write it the same way we did books like Down Among The Dead Men or The Renegade Lord. It's like the compressed vs decompressed storytelling in comics.
I'm thinking a lot about this at the moment because I'm trying to recapture that compressed idiom for the Vulcanverse gamebooks. They're like Fabled Lands in having an open-world structure and each book being set in an extensive region. But, conscious that some readers miss the strong character relationships you get in books like Heart of Ice, I'm using much more dialogue than in Fabled Lands. So the Vulcanverse books (which I talk a bit about here) will weigh in about 50% heavier than FL even if we can keep them down to around 750 entries each. Hopefully that will strike the right balance for all tastes. You'll be able to judge for yourself in just a few months.