‘Enemy of Chaos’ walkthrough

Enemy of Chaos mapped (vertical)

Spoiler alert: when viewed large, this is a complete map and walkthrough of the wonderfully geeky ‘choose your own adventure‘ meets ‘Fighting Fantasy‘ style interactive book/game, Enemy of Chaos by Leila Johnston.

You might have read her previous book, How to Worry Friends and Inconvenience People. More recently, Leila’s reading from Enemy of Chaos was one of the forty very interesting things that happened at Interesting 2009. If you were foolish enough to miss that, I hope you’ve at least read Cory Doctorow’s review of the book on Boing Boing.

Earlier this week, Leila was kind enough to give me a copy. I loved it, and within a day I’d decided I absolutely needed to see what a map of every possible path through the book would look like.

I made this using the `dot` renderer from GraphViz, which does all the hard work of drawing the graph and laying it out. The source file only took about 20 minutes to create. I quickly flicked through the book from beginning to end, documenting all the ‘now turn to page x’ choices like so:

digraph g {
  node [ shape = plaintext, fontname = Tahoma ]
  1 -> 166
  1 -> 37
  23 -> 201
  24 -> 48
  24 -> 178
  31 -> 110
  31 -> 191
  // ... (etc)

Viewed as a graph, it also acts a walkthrough, revealing the dead ends and the various paths to the final page. It also highlights a few interesting things about the structure:

  • A six page loop between pages 201 and 23.
  • A glitch which means page 227 can’t ever be reached except by flicking randomly to it; it’s a reverse dead-end.
  • There are quite a few ways to reach the end, but a lot more ways not to. It’s very hard to win, and gets increasingly hard towards the end.

Below is the same map, laid out horizontally. As Leila points out, it “looks like a big Romulan ship”, which is quite appropriate for what must be one of the geekiest books of the year.

Enemy of Chaos - mapped

One reply on “‘Enemy of Chaos’ walkthrough”

  1. Mm you’re completely right. And what this diagram mainly does is draw attention to how poorly designed this is as a game, which I always knew but had been trying to ignore!

    Although I suppose, in my defense, because there’s no determined “save the princess”-like mission laid out at the beginning, there’s no imperative to find the ultimate ending… and even though I’ve included one it’s a bit of red herring as a goal, cos it’s more there as a content-maximiser, giving people as much to read as possible. And there are Fighting Fantasy books with the same vagueness about their mission (get to the castle! Save the world!) – and which can be ‘won’ or ‘lost’ a dozen times (you’re made it to the castle and technically won, but oh – a bit wind-snake bit your head off) …but which nevertheless include an arbitrary ending on the last page.

    Enemy of Chaos is about the journey, not the destination. It’s a lot like life, yeah.

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