Talisman Prologue

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Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Talisman Prologue
Price: $2.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
Talisman Prologue, 8.5 out of 10 based on 89 ratings

I want to talk to you about a term used to describe a certain type of board game, one which embraces sitting around a table with your mates and laughing for two hours, all while under the influence of intoxicating liquors and doctor-scaringly salty snacks. I speak of course, of ‘beer-and-pretzels’, a sub-genre of the Ameritrash school of game design that has less to do with who wins and more about the fun everyone has on the way. The cardboard editions of Talisman – and their freshly released, power armoured little brother, Relic – are pretty much the definitive beer-and-pretzels game: gloriously imbalanced, totally luck based, backstabby, treacherous, stupid and a lovely exercise in community story-telling. It is the magic of being with friends and laughing together that gives these games their joy, not their mechanics. Those mechanics are just there to give form and expression to the wonderful joy that is the company of people you love to be with.

You may now mark your scorecards with you guess of how many positive things I have to say about Talisman Prologue HD, which not only features zero multiplayer functionality, but also lacks AI to compete against.

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Talisman’s core gameplay can be likened to Dungeons and Dragons aesthetic interbred with the mechanical sensibility of Snakes and Ladders. This is a game of rolling dice, moving round a track and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. Like many of the loot crazed heroes that have populated damn near every AD&D campaign, you race around a fantasy kingdom murdering monsters, leveling up and completing missions for creepy old wizards in caves. A round consists of rolling the movement dice, picking which direction you’re traveling and then resolving the events at the location you find yourself. While classic Talisman uses this simple collection of rules and the players’ (plural) imagination to create an adventure, in Prologue this, sadly, is as deep as the game goes. Rolling a dice, reading a card and maybe rolling another dice – repeat.

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Get used to this

In place of the sprawling, competitive fantasy slug-fest, Prologue offers five solo quests for each of the game’s ten characters, each quest introducing you to the ideas and mechanics of the game. Though the missions get progressively more challenging, every challenge can be bested simply by wasting your valuable free time grinding to level up. There’s never a sense of threat or fear that you might not complete the quest, because you can just cautiously limp away from the danger until you can get healed up. Try that in Talisman proper and you’re more often than not going to get jumped by a fellow adventurer looking to steal your boots and unicorn.

The problem here isn’t just that I’m used to playing this game with other people, the rot lies far deeper. Brace yourself… the mechanics of this app do not work precisely because of how faithfully Talisman has been reproduced. Many of the encounter cards can slow a player’s movement, make them miss a turn or transform them into a toad. If you’re up against three other players and look like you’re doing pretty well, suddenly discovering that you can’t hold all your shiny weapons because you’re two inches tall can be a bit a pain – especially when they get a murderous glint in their eyes and come haring after your piteously feeble amphibian head. Even if they don’t kill you, if they can get to the space you were transformed in, they can steal all your goodies for themselves. In Prologue, however, missing a turn is of zero consequence because every turn is your turn, and getting frogged is just an irritation as you grind those dice rolls to get back to the space you dropped your loot. All of the danger in Talisman came from the other players, without them even the iconic toad curse is just more of your time wasted.

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Gameplaywise, what you’re actually paying for with Talisman Prologue is just an overly extended tutorial for the Talisman Digital Edition planned for release later this year. This is several hours of tutorials for a game that I’ve genuinely never seen take more than five minutes to explain all of the rules.


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Prologue goes out of its way to capture the essence of the physical product, which is as vicious a double edged sword as you’re likely to find. When reproducing of the art of both the cards and board Prologue excels marvellously and is a great advertisement for the production values you’d expect from a Fantasy Flight published game. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives of exact reproduction end. The Fantasy Flight miniatures, cooed over by board gamers around the world for their attractiveness, just look like misshapen grey sprites in the app – their glowing borders only serving to highlight the difficulty of sculpting models a mere inch high.


In cardboard editions of games, publishers have to strike a balance when costing their product, so they can provide a reasonably priced game to the consumer in a box weighing less than an actual party of adventurers. Obviously, this restriction disappears once the physical components are converted into electrical signals, as is the case in an iPad app. The decision to retain the these odd looking unpainted miniatures just contributes to the overall feeling of apathy on the developers part – an apathy  towards creating a product for anyone that does not already own and love a copy of the game.

What actually makes this sort of shoddy implementation all the more frustrating is that where Nomad Games have done their own thing, it’s smart as all hell – particularly in their use of screen real estate. Rather than attempting to render the whole of your character sheet as a separate menu screen, Prologue uncharacteristically realises that such skeuomorphism would be stupid. All of the pertinent information – stats, inventory space, followers, etc. – is tastefully arranged around the edge of screen, providing a neat little HUD.


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This is a terrible, terrible app.

Avoid like the plague. Avoid like charity doorsteppers with cholera. Avoid like open sewers, abandoned funfairs and the cracks in the pavement.

I really can’t stress this enough. Talisman is supposed to be an unbalanced, cackling romp with your friends ­– the perfect accompaniment to beer and pretzels. Talisman will take even the slowest learners mere minutes to learn. Talisman does not require a paid for tutorial and you certainly do not need to waste your money on Prologue.

This summer Nomad Games will release the full Digital Edition of Talisman, which will feature AI opponents; online and pass-n-play multiplayer; more characters; and, hopefully, the actual game of Talisman. If Prologue had been put out as a free teaser to whet our appetite, I’d have praised it to the high heavens; but asking consumers to pay for a demo is insulting and awful business practice.

There are 23 comments

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  1. Fbergero

    I’ll be honest, I never played Talisman the board game – so, I can’t draw comparisons between the physical game and the iOS one.
    But, i’ve been playing the game on iOS since its launch last week, and I can honestly say that I’m having really fun times with it. I think you missed the point of the game…
    If you are playing the game to only go through all quests without considering the 3 Talismans score, yes, the game can seems repetitive, easy, boring and not challenging.
    But, if you playing the game to get the perfect score of 3 Talismans for each quests, that game is pure fun playing solo! You know that you need to beat the game with less turn as possible, when you draw a ‘lost turn’ card, it’s so frustrating. Even with the big chance factor, there is still some puzzling to think in order to do the quest as soon as possible. This is where you need to take choices like, do I lost a precious turn or do I re-roll de die? But, if I re-roll the die, I’m loosing the only Fate I have that, I’ll probably needs to beat the Guardian… Tough choice! 🙂
    I think you should go back to it and try to get the perfect score on a few quests… Maybe your opinion of the game will change.
    For me, it’s a 8 out of 10 and I can’t wait for the multiplayer version. Until then, I still have a lot of quests to keep me busy! 🙂

    • James Bruce

      Fbergero I downloaded this game, unsure of why its getting such great reviews when Tom says it sucks. And as someone who’s never played Talisman before, this is the worst excuse for a “game” I’ve ever had the displeasure to come across. Why are there things saying “miss a turn” when I’m the only one playing? Why is it fun to mindlessly roll a dice, pick a card, and do the whole thing again. I’m beginning to think this is just some dark social experiment. How on earth are they charging £2.99 for this? It’s like a really bad monopoly, which is pretty bad anyway, exaserbated by the fact you[re playing with yourself!

      • Fbergero

        James Bruce Fbergero  Like i wrote above, maybe because you too missed the point of the game – or, jsut don’t like game that includes luck factor. Yes, it is dice-rolling and yes, at some point it seems like a Monopoly game, and, at is base, it is. But, at the same time, if you are playing for the perfect 3-Talisman score, even with all the random stuff in the game, there is still some strategy to it. 
        In order to get the 3-Talisman in a quest, you need to complete it in a specific number of turns. And, this is where the ‘miss a turn’, even if playing solo, makes sense. If you know that you will need to do the quest in 12 turns, and you are getting a ‘miss a turn’ that changes your strategy as you have 1 less turn to complete it.  
        Out of 23 quests I completed so far, I’ve got 3-Talisman score on 19 of them and this is where all the fun of the game reside. In the harder quests (4-5), I rarely got the perfect score the first try. But, by playing it the first time, I learned which cards are available for this specific quest (as, cards will change depending on the quest), which powers my character  has, and I’m developing a strategy to get the quest done as quickly as possible.
        Yes, something luck, or bad luck, could cause some frustrations, but, usually, if you planned your thing properly, there is always a way to come back.
        I’m not the developer of this game, so, it doesn’t really affect me if the game is getting bad review. My only intention was to give another opinion on the game. If you REALLY do not like a game with luck, stay away from it. Personally  I loved both, pure strategy and luck-based style of games… I found that games with luck, force you to adapt and develop another strategy – and, i like that… 🙂

        • TVCruelty

          Aww c’mon, it’s really not that bad. Production values are high and the structure’s interesting enough. I played this back in the 80s (and have an original GW copy to prove it) and I find the iOS version has retained all the atmosphere of the original, admittedly without the multiplayer aspect. I don’t feel ripped off and look forward to full version in the summer. Judging by the review you’d think the makers had murdered someone. Lighten up!

        • Tom OBedlam

          @TVCruelty For me, Talisman was only ever the multiplayer aspect. I’m not sure that anyone can really say with a straight face that it’s a well designed game, but it’s always been a favourite because it’s generates great stories. Without that element I found it to be a dice rolling simulator. 
          If this was a freebie to whet our appetites for the Digital Edition Proper, then I’d not have anything bad to say about it – free is free – but asking to be paid for this rubs me the wrong way.
          On top of this, I’ve completed roughly half the missions just hammering roll, tick, roll, tick, never paying attention. I’ve never died once, nor failed a quest. That’s not Talisman for me. 
          I’m glad you’re in enjoying it though. I’d much rather read about someone loving something I hated, than hear you felt ripped off too 🙂

        • andsoitgoes

          Then there’s no point commenting on it, really.
          It’s like commenting on a rap album when you hate rap. That’s the thing here, it’s inherently something you hate, nothing is going to chance that.

      • cronkitepercussion

        I can’t stand Talisman. Foolishly, I bought Relic hoping it would be an improvement, but it was not to be. The game drones on and one. Consequently, I will avoid the app.

  2. daveismyhero

    This was the app that they told us we were going to get while they were developing it, pretty much down to a tee. As new players, my son and I are having a blast with it.
    The game isn’t perfect by any means, but I think it is a great way to learn the game and I am happy I made the purchase.

  3. szleski

    “This is a terrible, terrible app”?
    “Avoid like the plague”?
    Meanwhile, the game has been rated ~ 80 times on US App Store with an average of 4.5 stars. I mean, you don’t like it, fine; but isn’t the point of the review to help potential buyers make a decision? I think your opinion of this game is not very representative.

    • Fbergero

      I agree with you and this is why Imposted my commment erlier. When the reviewer wrote that it wasn’t making any sense to have ‘miss your turn’ events in a single player game, it’s clear that he missed the point of the game.
      I read that review more like a bashing text, than an actual review made by an objective reviewer that takes consideration this is NOT the multiplayer app he is waiting for…
      And for the asking price of $4.99 the game offers a lot of stuff… 50 quests, with 5 quests build specificaly for each of the 10 characters, taking consideration the abilities and the weakness of each of them. With a deck cards events made specifically for each of those 50 quests…
      All stuff that wasn’t part of this review…

      • James Bruce

        Fbergero Oh come on, the quest and talisman-collecting mechanics is clearly a weak way of propping up a “game” with no actual gameplay. If someone told you to complete monopoly in less than X turns to get Y monopoly points before doing the whole thing again, does that really count as fun? 
        I can’t help thinking those 5 star reviews were written in reaction from fans, rather than people who actually played the game. And the desire to justify a $5 purchase as not completely worthless is certainly a strong factor too. Let’s face it though – we got duped.

        • Fbergero

          James Bruce Fbergero  I’m neither a fan of the game, obviously, as I never played that game before. And, I’m buying a lot, and a lot of games on my iPad. I can honestly say that I’ve got duped before by many games, that ranged from $0.99 to $9.99 that didn’t get me enough for my money and i lived with it.
          But with this one, at $5, I’m LOVING it and I’m not trying to justify my money spent on it… it’s $5 bucks not $50… I don’t need to justify spending $5. if it would have been scrap, I would say so… but, this is not the case. I’ve probably spent a few hours on this game… so, I’m getting enough for my money.

        • andsoitgoes

          Exactly. I don’t have access to the game, never had the chance to play it in it’s real for, but always wanted to.
          Here, I have a game that gives me a real feel for it.
          Multiplayer will be added very soon, allowing me to play the game with my kids for probably around $10 and in digital format.
          As for the game itself, say what you want but I’ve been having a complete blast playing it as is. The fact that there ARE strategies in play to get 3 stars in the game and that many people have done that shows that, while random, is doable.
          And even though I don’t often get more than 2 stars, I’m enjoying it greatly.
          As for the review, it honestly looks like it’s been copy pasted from WTFs review of the same game, without the video. I get why some people don’t like it, but the fact that those who don’t like it can’t see why there are those who DO enjoy it is an issue with the review as a whole.
          Terrible terrible app it is not, maybe it’s not for you or James, but for others, including me, it is AMAZING.

      • Tom OBedlam

        Fbergero Respectfully, I think you’re over egging how much of the game there was to miss. This is not a game, it is a tutorial. ‘Miss a turn’ means nothing when it’s simply a clock ticking upwards. That you have enjoyed trying to get three Talismans doesn’t mean that there is a strategic game to play here. 
        Let me explain myself: if you are on the Village and have a mission to complete on the Chapel, there are six spaces between you and the objective. Depending on a diceroll – a simulated RNG – it will take you between one and six turns to get there. If you get lucky, you could get three completion tokens. Roll bad and you have to make do with two. Oh… unless you picked several miss a turn cards en route, then you might only get one Talisman. 
        Let us be clear, that is not strategy, it is Snake and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders in the USA). If you are selling a game with an established brand name, you WILL make money from the name, regardless of how good the game is. If the game is not the game it is advertised as, that’s worse than just making a bad game – it’s shyster misrepresentation. 
        Your argument is not that I do not understand the game in front of me,  your argument is that you enjoy a luck based game that I do not. And that’s fine, it’s a reviewers duty to express their informed opinion in a (hopefully) entertaining manner. It isn’t my job to agree with other people’s opinions or the ratings meter on the US App Store. From my review, I believe that a reader who has not exhaustively researched their purchase and just wants to know if this is the Talisman they remember, will be warded from wasting their money. 
        Lastly, I’d like to stress that in consumer journalism there is no such thing as “objective”, any review is coloured by the experiences of both the writer and the readers. An objective review is impossible for an entertainment product.

        • andsoitgoes

          Tom, a good reviewer is able to take what they are reviewing and, while including their feelings and biases to a degree, provide to the reader a relatively unbiased portrayal.
          The game says it’s a single player version of Talisman. The game I got and play is a single player version of talisman. It says in the description, SINGLE PLAYER PLAY. Shyster misrepresentation it is not for anyone who can read.
          Your review and WTFs focus on getting the 3 talisman symbols. The fact that they are such a huge focus baffles my mind. They were put in as a way to appeas people

        • andsoitgoes

          God I hate Livefyre and it’s inability to allow us to edit.
          They were put in to appease people who might want something to challenge themselves with. They serve no purpose but to add a bit more into the game, the same way any game adds them in. Is it a perfect implementation, no. But it’s something extra. The simple fact that that point is such a major focus on the negative reviews says a lot.
          And if there was no strategy involved, then there would not be people who are more skilled at regularly getting the 3 talismans. But alas, there are. Choosing between going to the chapel or the village could be enough to push you that much further. It’s not Eclipse strategy, but it’s roll the dice-game strategy.
          For what it is, what it said it would be it reaches that goal.
          It’s like bashing monopoly for being luck based. A-doy, no kidding. It’s monopoly.

  4. Zac

    I enjoy reviews that look at the actual game but in this case you are reviewing the game not its own merits but on its lack of similarity to a board game published in the 80’s.
    That Talisman Prologue isn’t that game is irrelevant.
    Lines like this “Talisman is supposed to be …” really make me wonder why you even reviewed the game at all. Its clear that what you are reacting to is the fact that this game doesn’t reflect the positive times you had with Talisman the board game in the past. Sadly this really tells us nothing about the iPad game in question.
    Some of the issues you have with the iPad game that you mention in your comments are actually issues with Talisman the board game as well which makes me even more confused about what your actual point is.
    This review is really a disservice to your readers as is arguing with them to make them see your perspective.
    I’ve removed your site from my RSS reader as this is really quite a terrible, terrible review and your defence of this rubbish makes me question the value of the site at all.

    • James Bruce

      @Zac I think the review is very fair actually; I’ve never heard of the original, and bought this as it is just to see if the review was perhaps a little too harsh. But no – I stand by what Tom has said about the game, regardless of his comparisons to the original. This doesn’t work as a game; it is designed to be multiplayer, and played with friends. Like munchkin. Can you imagine a single player version of munchkin? Of course not, it would be stupid. 
      Anyway, we’ll miss you. That is of course why we have comments and user voting – so you can voice your opinion and/or vote, but if you really think disagreeing with a single review is grounds to dismiss everything on the site, then I feel sorry for you.

  5. andsoitgoes

    And just one thing to note, if you look at the comments from the site, you will notice that the majority of the comments appear on harsh reviews that a majority of the readers disagree with.
    Now that Angelus has cut down on his reviews, the scathing tone has reduced and I was appreciating that. As for this, there is a vast difference between being a good reviewer and pointing out the faults that YOU believe something has and going off the rails into turning a review into an endless rant, which is what I just read.
    It tells is nothing about the game, and focuses barely a paragraph on the good aspects of the game. After reading what was said, there IS more to that side of it, but because there’s so much hatred toward the fact that it’s been turned into a solo experience, and that it plays exactly like Talisman without opponents, that there’s no room in Tom’s heart for spending any more time explaining how the app plays out.
    Now I have a question, when the game has multiplayer added to it, will this review be redone? When the whole kit and caboodle is available for well under a fraction of the price the physical game would cost, does that excuse the reasoning for releasing this very true to life version?
    Do I wish it could have included multiplayer right off? Sure, but the game is so gorgeous, offers tons of varied play with the different classes, keeps things fresh with each character having their own strengths and weaknesses, having so MANY characters and presenting it to us in such a beautiful way is awesome for me.
    Perfect, it is not.
    But it sure as hellfire isn’t “terrible”
    While I respect the site for what it is, and am very glad it exists, when it comes down to whether or not I’ll buy a game, unfortunately the inconsistent and overly biased mindset of some of the reviews here keep me from being able to rely on the judgements that are posted.

  6. TouchedSage

    I think the review is a little too harsh. I played many tabletop games of Talisman back in the day, and everything the reviewer says about the tabletop version is true. It will be interesting to see how much success the developers have with AI characters since that will make or break any IOS version for me (3+ hour sessions of multiplayer virtual Talisman does not have a lot of appeal for me personally.)
    That said I have enjoyed this ‘Prologue’ version a lot more than I would have thought. Some of the missions devolve into frustrating dice rolling tedium, but there are others that reward strategic play and I had a pretty good time with those. This is an app that has some growing to do to realize its full potential, but unlike the review I feel like there is a complete game in the current package, albeit one that falls short of a complete Talisman implementation would look like.

  7. Alejo68

    Well… I wouldnt be that harsh… but I must agree that, for me, this is not a game but a a fun tutorial like they say. Concerning the cost, you cannot compare prices like 5 against 50 (fisical boardgame), because is like comparing apples and oranges. The mean value of an Ipad app varies between 2 and 20 (being an ipad  game of 20 dollars TRULY expensive), but mostly they go between 2 and 10 dollars. So 5 is not precisely cheap.
    This game, for me, its nice but boring, because it lacks rpg content and immersion, which we should get in a single player game. I mean, “its a single player game”… well, thats no excuse.
    If I complete the game in 19 or 43 turns its really not relevant at all, or if I get 1, 2 or 3 talisman thingies, it also doesnt make me feel like I achieved something.
    But of course its just my taste… anyway, if I want a luck based game, I would be playing something different elsewhere. For me an rpg driven game, no matter how lite it is, must give you immersion, and I just didnt found it in this game. Lucky me I have the boardgame, at least until comes the full version.
    I keep having the slight feeling that somebody there said… hey cmon, why dont we publish it the way it is?


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