Talisman is simply old-school fantasy board gaming.
Released at what was probably the height of the Golden Age of Dungeons & Dragons (1983), Talisman was a great way to pull your family and friends into a "board game" and unwittingly expose them to the role-playing experience. In my teens it was Talisman and TSR's "Dungeon!" that bridged that gap between my D&D world and my family board game time.
In Talisman, players choose a character and begin circling the board looking for the entrance to the next most "inner world" represented by ringed paths on the board. As the first goal, players want to enter the inner most world (ring) and reach the "Portal of Power" to claim the "Crown of Command". When this happens the game is turned on its head and the other players try to take out the person with the crown before they are dispatched by them with the "Command" spell. The last character standing wins.
OK, so it sounds a little bit "He-Man". It was the 80's - you had to be there.
During the game, players develop their characters, level their attributes and collect equipment all while fighting their way through the world toward the final conflict. Fantasy Flight's 4th Edition version of the board game is representative of their incredibly high quality standards and even include some really nice miniatures ready for paint. If you don't want to store all that cardboard, Nomad Games (Not us!) has created a really nice digital representation of the game and it is perfect for a solo night of questing. I don't think you would be disappointed buying either one, but the digital version is playable by yourself and a bit cheaper without all the physical printing costs, so if you just want to give it a test run, this is probably the way to go.
Gameplay is incredibly traditional - we are talking card drawing, dice rolling, and pawn moving all in a turn based format (hence the "Monopoly" reference in the title). After landing on a space players resolve that encounter and the turn passes to the next player. This game is far from a modern board game and boy is it random.... but in a lot of ways it is just so retro and so simple it "works". If you are looking for a deeper more complex experience this probably isn't your cup of tea. If you are looking for a family friendly game you can play with the kids while scratching the role-playing itch, then you could do a lot worse.
The digital version is great addition to your iPad gaming arsenal while you travel. The app supports pass-and-play for a night trapped in a hotel room (or for the kids in the back seat while you are on vacation) as well as full blown multiplayer via Game Center for a night on the road.
Calling this "medieval Monopoly" is probably not fair, but it was a catchy title. This game has a lot more depth and a much better theme, but the mechanics are very traditional, so while I love this game it may be hit-or-miss for a younger crowd (read under 30) unless you have someone to help draw them into the nostalgia.