Alba is based on the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ (CYOA) format, but is more like its older sibling who has recently discovered DnD.
This Open World Adventures story appears to echo themes from the Fallout franchise, notably in its setting within a world vastly altered due to a past nuclear event, and especially with the casual references to The Vault, where your character grew up.
However, the characters of Alba seem much less two-dimensional than many of those you may find in Fallout. The opening chapter begins with the last leg of a sea voyage to the ‘old world’ with two companions, whereby the scene is set as your character reflects on the journey so far and what might be awaiting the trio once they reach the land. Upon arrival, you are introduced to another handful of characters, all of whom are developed with careful attention paid to even the smallest of details. This includes your own character: the fact Alba includes a shorter version of a DnD-style character sheet with inventory greatly expands the number of different possible story paths you could end up taking (add 20 to your ‘Replayability’ score ).
This thoughtfulness is continued in the exploration mechanics, which are pleasantly interactive and add an extra visual element of realism to bridge the gap between story and players as you read through the book.
Chapters are divided into sections, and for the first two, you navigate your way within your current chapter between these sub-sections until you reach an outcome or choice that permits you to move on to a different chapter, marking your character sheet as and when instructed.
The writing is skilful, and drops enough hints to pique your interest in exploring the mysteries of this world, yet does not become too blunt or free with its detail that it spoils the surprise of what is waiting out there for you to discover.
Alba works well as a co-operative experience, but would also work easily as a solo game, given that there is only one main character whose shoes you step into.
It is an enjoyable game to play, especially in a small group, and compared to previous experience of CYOA books, the greater openness in the nature of the exploration and choices you are able to make, combined with the descriptive style of the writing, leads to more immersion and investment in the game.
This review is based on an Alpha copy of the book, sent to us for review by ITB. We played the first two chapters live which you can watch here.
You can purchase the alpha version of the eBook now from the ITB store, and it will be coming to Kickstarter soon if you want to get hold of a physical copy!