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Literature / The Return of Zaltec

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These markings must mean something.

The Return of Zaltec is a graphical Gamebook with a strong emphasis on puzzles, alongside standard dice-based combat. The puzzle element serves as the game's primary mechanic, where the answer to a puzzle leads the player to the correct page.

The game sets off with you as a young adventurer who wishes to restore peace to the land during troubled times (and make a name for yourself while you're at it), with the objective becoming clearer as you progress along the game.There is a sequel, Zaltec II: The Generation Stone, where you play as an unrelated character.

The book is available for free at

The Return of Zaltec provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ancient Tomb: Right in the start of the game, although you can't figure out how to open it until later.

  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Attempting to cheat against the final boss and just "beat" him leads the player to a fake, mediocre ending.

  • Glowing Eyes: Zaltec has these.

  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Guess on which side of Kabaran is the West Sea.

  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Several of these. Often the player won't even realize it's what they're up against until they have both the lock and the key, which combine to reveal their solution.

  • Medieval European Fantasy: Averted. The characters all appear olive-skinned, the architecture is Ancient Near Eastern, and the monsters look like traditional African masks.

  • Puzzle Boss: As is only fitting for the puzzle-focused game this is. The boss has impossible stats. The only way to defeat him is by using his sword, and connecting its markings with the markings on his chest.

  • Random Encounters: All encounters except the final boss are random.

  • Screw Destiny: Zaltec is prophesied to return as a hero. However, he returns to conquer and enslave everyone.

  • Squishy Wizard: Averted. Zaltec is anything but squishy.

  • The X of Y: Right in the title, The Return of Zaltec.

  • Trauma Inn: This is the only real purpose of the inns in the game (besides from the inn at Barnan, which also contains a map of the region).

  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: The only way to defeat the final boss is to find his ancient sword and use it against him.