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Life of a Wizard is more or less a legitimate RPG, in book form. The story is told in first person text, but you get to make all the important decisions, and those decisions shape what kind of person you will be and what your strengths and weaknesses are as well as how the story plays out. It's an awesome concept, and those of us who like to play engrossing games, specifically because we like the stories, will find a lot to love here.
But what I discovered later was that Life of a Wizard is the product of a company called Choice Of Games, and they have made a whole bunch of games like this for Android. And so for the last week I found myself doing little but playing through these games just to see what kind of stuff I could get into.
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My favorite of these text-based Android games is called Choice of Romance, about a young boy or girl (your choice) who goes to court in a light fantasy universe to try to find a suitable suitor. I chose to be a lady, and as it begins things are fairly typical of this kind of story. Your family wants you to marry the rich yet not particularly interesting or attractive guy, because it will be good for both you and all your relatives. Meanwhile, there is also a dashing man with little money but who seems pretty cool, and also the king is making eyes at you.
In my version of the tale, I chose to court the dashing man while also having an affair with the king, eventually, my suitor found out I was cheating and dumped me, and so I was left to be one of the king's consorts. Eventually, I gained great power in that role, but I wanted it all. So I conspired to kill the queen and take her place. Unfortunately, due to my earlier character-shaping choices I did a poor job of this, and while the queen did end up dead I was found out. Thus, I was beheaded, and so was my father.
That a seemingly mundane story about going to court for the first time could end up with my character being executed was quite thrilling. I always enjoyed those Choose Your Own Adventure novels because I wanted to see how my character could die, and so I found this result to be a positive experience.
I also tried out one called Choice of Zombies, and in that one you go on a grand quest through a world infested by, you guessed it, zombies. This one was a bit different from the others I played, in that the story is dictated by the number of side quests. Yes, even a text adventure like this has side quests. As you drive around looking for shelter, you can take detours and collect party members, or you can play it safe and try to get through it alone. In this story, outcomes are dictated almost entirely by the yes or no decisions you make, rather than behind the scenes stats you've collected.
I can't say I prefer one method or another. I would say I like both ways of telling the stories. Having complete control over everything you do is fun, but also having these things be a real game of sorts in which what you can do is dictated by our skills is also fun. Hurrah for having both options.
Life of a Wizard, to bring us back to the beginning, is heavily stats-based. You have and develop skills as you grow up and go on adventures, and while it seems every choice has a ton of options you will only be able to take a few or maybe even none of them. That can be frustrating every once in a while, but it also adds to replayability. I've gone through that one three times just to see how it plays out if I choose different skills.
There are still many more of these games I have yet to play, and you'd better believe I'll continue to try them out. I encourage you to do so as well, as these can be quite interesting and fun. Now, if only some ambitious developer would take story structures like these and combine them with real gameplay, and we might have an honest-to-god mobile gaming paradise on our hands. But for now, I'll be happy that these text-based games exist for my enjoyment.