Talisman Origins Review

By Chris / September 9, 2019
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Journey through a series of stories in this solo game set in the Talisman world.

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Platforms

Android, iOS, & Steam

Game Length

15-60 Minutes

# of Players

1

Game Publisher

Games Workshop

App Developer

@NomadGames

Our Rating

Overview

Talisman: Origins is a single player roll-and-move adventure game from Nomad Games. Players journey through a series of quests with each one playing out like a traditional Talisman game, except with fewer or no opponents. Shorter quests can be completed in about 15 minutes but some of the longer quests can take up to 60 minutes.

We have reviewed the original Talisman here and the good news is that the rules roundup still pertains because Origins is the same game mechanically, they just removed the other players. How do you get away with removing one to five players from a board game? By giving the remaining player quests to work through, of course!

We won’t cover the rule basics here, please do read our review of the original for details. Instead, we will highlight the differences and what makes Origins unique.

The starting point is that the rules for the game locations have not changed. You might ask: “but weren’t there a lot of ‘lose your turn’ penalties in the original game?” Yes, there were. And they still exist in Origins. They aren’t always totally useless, however, as certain quests will throw a rogue opponent on the board to bring back that old Talisman feeling.

The biggest difference from base Talisman is the addition of sectors on any of the four corners of the board. Each of these represent a new area to explore, all of which are unique and add new squares to explore, shops to visit, enemies to defeat, and so on. Full Talisman novice disclosure: these may have existed in base Talisman as expansion content that I never saw, but they are in Origins from the start so they are new to me. These sectors also introduce new rules to the game. Among the first you will be introduced to are Pets, which are found in one of the shops in the City sector. Pets are added just like followers and provide you with unique skills.

When you open the game you are greeted with a slew of books. Each of these books consists of a few chapters that tell a story. As an example, the first book is The Great Wizard. This book tells the story of how a powerful wizard came to power long ago. There are five chapters in this book, over the course of them you will control this wizard along his journey to create the Crown of Command (a name that should ring a bell to Talisman fans). This is a pretty cool lore-building story to tell, and there are a few others which have some interesting narrative attached, but many of the others are significantly more generic. A Warrior’s/Dwarf’s/Wizard’s/Assassin’s Tale are four separate books, for example.

Going back to The Great Wizard, The Eagle King is the first of five chapters in the story. In this story you, as the wizard, are tasked with exploring the Highlands, a new area added on the bottom left of the original board, to find three gems. The gems are the main quest, once you have found them all the quest is over, but there are also a handful of secondary quests you can tackle if you wish. This gives you a lot to take on in the first chapter of the first book of the game.  This all adds up to a massive amount of content for those who want to dive into Origins.

The quests themselves are nicely varied, at least as much as something like this can be varied within the confines of the same board game. The extra sectors work well to increase the variety that can be added. You can probably guess what the quests will consist of. Some combination of finding/killing/delivering/completing things. If nothing else, simply switching from the drawn out spectacle of waiting for someone to kill all enemies from within the Crown of Command every game is a significant departure from base Talisman. It is also interesting that certain aspects of previous quests carry over into future quests within a book. From what I’ve seen these aren’t really tied to any decisions you make, but rather actions you have to take to complete a quest. That makes it very scripted, but it is still a nice touch of variety. One minor (not minor) note; when you die in Origins, you lose the quest and your game is over. That’s a pretty big change from the respawn aspect of the base game.

For me, I think Origins is my Talisman of choice. I enjoyed the completely old school grinding nature of the original, but my least favorite part was the AI players. Although some quests will throw a troll or something on the board as another player, the basic concept of a solo game works well in Talisman. If you enjoy the slow paced nature of exploring, collecting, fighting, visiting, and repeating it all over and over again, Origins lets you do that without getting picked on by AI that sees your low Craft rating and chases you around the board to attack.

Origins is the same basic game, so if you hated the original, nothing here will change your mind. The flip side of that is that any fans of the original will find a ton of new Talisman content to enjoy if you can enjoy the game without opponents. Talisman wears its old school, dice-based feel proudly, and Origins carries that over, but takes some small steps to add variety and even shorten a lot of the games. If you like the idea of the original, but couldn’t commit to the playtime, Origins might be a good fit.

Barrier to Entry

One of our biggest gripes about the original game was the lack of a tutorial and confusing rulebook. We’re happy to report that Origins has not one, but two tutorials! The basic tutorial steps you through the basics of moving around the map, encountering, collecting, rolling, and so on. The Advanced tutorial introduces one of the new sectors, the City, and shows you how to traverse through its streets. Both tutorials are a bit open ended and give you some basic goals to complete, this prepares you for the quests in the normal game.

The tutorials are nice but also feel a bit like you have some Talisman experience under your belt. They don’t quite hold your hand to the level a new player might want, but they are great for returning players who want to dive into Origins. On the downside, there is no separate rulebook or reference to help you if you need to look up something specific.

talisman origins tutorial

Tutorial

talisman origins menu

Main menu

talisman origins fight

Battle!

Look and Feel 

Not much has changed on this front. The game still plays from an overhead view, with a “zoom in” button if you want to take a closer look and enjoy some of the 3D modeling the game offers. Actions are performed using a set of buttons and confirmations on the right side of the screen, while moving to a space requires clicking on an often tiny space on the board. This is even a bit tougher this time around as the new sectors pack a lot of spaces in a small area.

Like the original, there is nothing here that will blow you away but it is functional for the most part. The tiny click areas for movement are the biggest issue and the lack of an undo button also stands out. The undo button here would be fairly useless most of the time, however, as so much of the game involves die rolls.

Multiplayer

This is a single player game, the multiplayer aspect of the original has been removed so there’s nothing to see here.

Single Player

The entire game is single player, so everything mentioned is applicable. The game offers four campaign modes which consist of 20 total quests/chapters. This is quite a tally for the base game, it will keep you busy for quite a while if you are one to dive deep into Talisman.

The game features 75 achievements to chase, most of them are based around completing quests rather than doing specific actions during games. Given the length of the game, it is a relief that you can save a game in progress and return to it during your next session.

talisman origins zoom

Zoomed in

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My new pet, Glitter the unicorn.

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Victory!

What Else?

The expansions have already begun to roll out. Some of them are free (!) while others can be purchased. They offer a slew of new quests to explore, amping up the difficulty and offering new takes on the familiar game. In short, if you like the game, there is enough content here to keep you playing for a long, long time. What more could you ask for?

The Wrap Up

Talisman without AI players, streamlined a bit by providing shorter, objective-based quests to play through, and those quests tie together to tell larger stories. If this interests you at all, then jump into Talisman Origins right now. The content is deep and the expansions have already started rolling out, it is a game that could keep you busy for a long, long time.

There isn’t much to complain about in the implementation. Sometimes it is tough to hit the right landing spot for movement, I could see it being a bit of a nightmare on small phones, but even then you can play zoomed in to avoid the issue.

For me, the questing is fun and if I ever have a Talisman itch that needs scratching, Origins will definitely be the game I fire up to do so.

Talisman Origins is a fun solo game set within the classic Talisman rules, grinders and adventurers will find a lot to like here.

What we like


- A nice twist on Talisman, allowing players to focus on the buildup and goals

- App is well made, no major issues

- A massive amount of content, especially when you consider in-app purchases

What we don't like



- Tapping on small spaces for movement can be tricky


- Isn't going to convert many non-Talisman fans (not that it is trying to...)


Our Rating

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