This is a great introduction to the author's system (which I would call more OSR than d20ish in feel).
This book is pretty unique in that you actually roll up a character to use, so you have a few stats, hit points, armor class and weapons. All of these are very indicative of an OSR game and really made me feel like I was playing OD&D. I really liked this aspect of the game as it provided an extra depth of immersion for the game. Its the little things. :-)
The game functions as expected, providing you with choices that then determine how successful your character will be at navigating the dangerous world beneath the surface. The stats add just the right level of crunch to the game to allow for a lunchtime adventure without becoming burdensome and time consuming. The system opens the door to easily being bent or cheated by someone but I think doing so would make it much less fun to do so.
I felt the writing was clear, interesting and I never felt I was being 'railroaded' or steered in a particular fashion or route. The rules add just the right touch to make this feel more like an RPG than a book. While I would have enjoyed the book anyway, the excitement of 'while I win this fight' and 'what treasure might I find' add another layer to the adventure that I find most welcoming.
I rolled exceptionally well throughout the entire adventure and was never killed. Close, but not quite. Those damn spiders are pretty tough! After concluding the adventure, I found I was actually a little sad I had not been slain because I suspect I missed much of the adventure by rolling so well. Likely I will go back and run through this again, purposefully making a few different choices so that I can see more of the adventure as it was written (rather than cheating and just reading the entire book).
I have downloaded the second part and will be giving it a run through as well, to continue the adventure. I really like the set up, the rules, and the presentation. All are a top-notch effort.
I will certainly be purchasing the the first part of the paid adventure (at right). I understand it has puzzles and riddles that must be solved in addition to battling the forces of evil. I am also interested in seeing how the game is expanded in this larger book. I understand there are more bad guys, more equipment, weapons and magic items.
If you are like me and need a serious break over lunch during your workweek, these seem like a perfect way to relax and recharge. I highly recommend you at least download the free introductory adventure books and see if this is for you. I am guessing they will be.