[Review] Talisman: Digital Edition – Nintendo Switch

Written by Thomas Haroldsen
  • Developer: Nomad Games
  • Publisher: Nomad Games
  • Release Date: 09/03/2020
  • Price: £17.99 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by Nomad Games

Introducing: Talisman: Digital Edition Review

I’ve always been a bit hesitant when board games are converted to a digital platform. From my experience I’ve found there’s a 50/50 chance that the experience will transition well. In most cases I envision how the digital media should interpret the core mechanics. This can be a detriment to my overall enjoyment as often times it’s not how I would have done it. When given the chance to review Talisman: Digital Edition I was curiously optimistic as I have not played the original. My lack of experience with the source material added an additional learning curve but it also allowed me to head into this game with a fresh set of eyes, not jaded by how I think things should have been implemented. This gave me a great feel for how the digital version was put together and if playing on a console makes sense.

A Kindly Mage

The objective of Talisman is to traverse the board and make your way to the center. The target is the Crown of Command. Various rule-sets and expansions can alter the way you play the game and determine other objectives. Talisman starts off by giving you a fair amount of starting characters to choose from. Among which are a Druid, Ninja, Minstrel and Ghoul. If you don’t find a character who suits you, there are plenty more to be added through DLC giving a lot of ways to play.

My first attempt at playing Talisman was with my children. The game supports up to six players but we jumped in with four. Between myself, my eight year old and my eleven and twelve year old kids I felt we could represent a variety of ages while testing things out. We didn’t even make it through one round. Instead of giving full control to player one, anybody can control the tutorial messages. This meant my son skipped everything and we had no clue what was going on. I decided it would be better to read the in-depth guide and make my first run through solo.

A Phantom will Haunt

Talisman isn’t a typical board game. It doesn’t follow the linear layout, simply navigating a set path. When your turn comes, you roll the dice to determine where to move. The player can select which direction to go. Depending on which space you land on will determine your next course of actions. Some squares will let you draw adventure cards. Others, such as the graveyard or tavern have specific requirements and results based on a dice roll.

Adventure cards can be broken up in different effects. You may draw an item or gold or possibly a follower to aid you in the game. There’s also a chance you’ll encounter an enemy or unlock an NPC who stays on the square. Based on the cards you draw and the resolution that follows, everyone is seeking the same thing. To get stronger. Whether that’s increasing your strength or craft or finding items to help in your quest. To face some of the game’s later encounters and the final boss, if you will, you need to be adequately prepared.

The Fabled Book of Spells

As I mentioned before, you can navigate the board in any direction. There are three main areas. The outer ring is where each player starts. Certain requirements must be met before moving to the inner ring and finally the center. The nature of Talisman made our games with more players last a lot longer than when playing a two player match or with the AI. A fair amount of luck plays into the outcomes but there is some strategy as well. Your character can acquire spells, and knowing when and who to use them on can make a huge difference. I was also surprised to learn you can actually get out in the game if your health drops. Instead of attempting the Crown of Command you can try to wipe out other players. Even after I had a better grasp of how to play Talisman, it was hard getting my younger children to sit through a game.

My son enjoyed playing it with me but it does require some patience. We learned that even though it asks you to connect multiple controllers, we could play with just one or two. Our favorite way to play was in table-top mode with the Switch flat on the table. The touch screen made using the UI much easier and saved time as well.

The Angel then Departs

As far as the graphics go, Talisman: Digital Edition isn’t the most impressive. Even when we played on the television, it was sometimes difficult knowing where your character was. Though they are outlined with a colored border we still had confusing moments. There were also times when the dice were cast behind part of the HUD and you couldn’t see what was rolled. The hand drawn avatars looked great and matched my expectations for cards from a board game. The board itself felt rather small and lacked detail. The music was peaceful and appropriate for a game with a fantasy setting. It evoked adventurous tones and never distracted from the gameplay.

I didn’t encounter any glitches or bugs. The gameplay was smooth with satisfying dice effects. The user interface wasn’t always the easiest to navigate but the touch screen helped alleviate that. For those who want to play online, there’s good news. Online multiplayer seemed very active throughout different times during the day. The AI played well enough that it’s an enjoyable experience if online play isn’t your thing or you don’t have other players available.

Final Wrap

Talisman: Digital Edition wasn’t the family board game I hoped it would be. That’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable. For my son and I it was deeply engaging with interesting gameplay. Some of the control challenges were mitigated when we played using the touchscreen and the variety kept us coming back. Even if you master each character, loads of DLC provide numerous expansions with additional character and board add-ons. The cost of which seemed a bit steep. I would certainly recommend the core Talisman experience to any board game enthusiast but even the casual player would do well to add this to their Nintendo Switch to diversify their catalogue. A learning curve can be expected if you’re unfamiliar with the source game but the detailed rules will have you casting dice in no time.

Pros

  • Huge Character Selection
  • Varied Gameplay
  • Simplified Board Gaming on the Go

Cons

  • Troublesome Controls and UI
  • Image Clarity

Verdict
Talisman: Digital Edition mixes card, dice and board gaming into a tight fantasy package for hours of fun while vastly replayable.
3.5/5

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