The librigames are back: here are the 10 best

The librigames are back: here are the 10 best

The phenomenon of game books that depopulated in the 80s and 90s is experiencing a second youth, thanks also to a series of new authors who test the limits of the genre

Between the end of the 80s and the 90s, in the backpacks and bookcases of young nerds, who still weren't called that, it was not uncommon to find pocket booklets of necklaces with evocative titles: Lonely Wolf, Adventure Dimension, At King Arthur's Court, Beyond the Nightmare , Ninja. The magnificent illustrated covers promised to transport readers on fantastic journeys to other worlds, crowded with sorcerers, demons, monsters and warriors.

Leafing through the pages one found oneself living an adventure as protagonists, making choices at crossroads that would have determined the success or failure of the hero of the moment, noting statistics, objects, coins and life points, and "rolling" the now infamous 6-sided dice, traditionally printed in the upper corners of the pages.

It was the golden age of librigames, a boom that arrived in Italy almost twenty years later than the first experiments in the United States, and then dissipated in a silent death at the end of the 90s, after a phase of expansion perhaps excessive. For many readers back then, that would have been their first experience with RPG mechanics, followed by a natural transition to Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammers (now Warhammer) or Gurps. And the pleasure of jumping from paragraph to paragraph leafing through pages and taking notes in pencil would never have been forgotten.

Today, more than twenty years later, librigames are in full revival, thanks also to the growth of the public passionate about fantasy and role-playing games, and nostalgia for 80s titles.

The second youth of librigames focuses on four main strands. The first, also chronologically, is the reprint or recovery of the great classics, which have long been absent from the shelves. Enthusiasts can thus recover, in new editions often revised and corrected, the historic cycles of Joe Denver (the legendary Lone Wolf, his spinoff Oberon and the post-apocalyptic Warriors of the road), published by Vincent Books (label of Raven Distribution) , or the evocative Misteri d'Oriente series, absent from bookshops for 33 years, with the adventures of Father Gianni by Doug Headline (Ms Edizioni). While Magazzini Salani has reprinted Ian Livingstone's historic Fighting Fantasy (ex-Dimensione Adventure) series, exchanging the evocative and dark original covers with more colorful and youthful illustrations.

The second is that of the new authors who pay homage tradition but at the same time try to push the genre beyond the previously explored boundaries, with very interesting experiments, often published by small publishing houses. The third is that of escape books, almost a separate genre, which offer puzzles and mechanisms borrowed in full from escape rooms (also in board game format). And the fourth is that of illustrated books at crossroads, often but not necessarily aimed at a younger audience, in the best tradition of Mickey's legendary crossroads stories.

In the gallery above you will find the 10 best titles to enjoy the revival of librigames, including some suitable for younger readers: ideal for spending a winter immersed in pleasant reading. Perhaps the phenomenon will never return to take on the dimensions of the 1980s and 1990s, but, if these are the premises, the future of the genre has never looked so bright.

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