“There’s always room for a story
that can transport people to another place.”
– J.K. Rowling
A few days ago – at least, at the time of writing – it has been released one of the most promising turn-based games of the year: Solasta Crown of the Magister.
I haven’t played it yet, but, in the meantime, I’ve read the accurate and well-written Doubt’s review. Even if, overall, Solasta is described as a great game, among its few flaws, Doubt have listed one particular downside that has caught my attention: the story.
In fact, although Solasta seems to excel in most sectors (from its dynamic combat to the innovative use of the environment), the story is described as “unremarkable at best, confusing and nonsensical at worst (…) even the NPCs are boring and relatively lifeless“.
Well, in my modest opinion, this one of the biggest problem of the entire “fantasy genre”.
To better express my thoughts, I can simply refer to a question I recently wrote for one of my upcoming interviews (a very big one, trust me!).
Thinking about the evolution of the fantasy genre through the recent years, I wrote that, in almost every single fantasy RPG, you will always find at least two or three of these random story elements: a) the rise of a great evil; b) a man who loses his memory; c) the “chosen one”, usually the man without memory as before, which is the medieval version of a superhero; d) a journey through places that necessarily include: deserts, ice lands and volcanoes; e) a conflict between races. Those elements are so strong embedded into the genre that it is almost impossible to consider “fantasy” a game whose story is missing one of them.
It is true that sometimes humor can save the day, like happened in “Divinity Original Sin” or in the never too much praised “The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk”, but this is no more than a “trick” and not the definitive solution, because even in those games we can easily find those recurring elements.
In my opinion, the problem of the repetitiveness of those stories is so big, that – I’m sure of it – all of us, just once, have felt the instinct to skip the intro of a game.
Which raises the consequent question, what we can expect from the upcoming fantasy RPGs: the same old stories or something different?
Obviously I don’t have the answer, but I’m confident that this month we could have a glimpse of the future of the genre.
In fact this is the month of a very peculiar and absolutely brilliant gem named Wildermyth.
A couple of years ago, I got an interview from the developers, Nate and Annie, and, on that occasion, they explained to me one of the most interesting features of their game: the “procedural story telling“.
The idea behind this feature was simple and very bold, at the same time.
The focus in their game was not on the plot, but on the character’s development, so that, we can safely say, the story was “built around them”.
For sure this is not an easy target to achieve: you cannot simply put random obstacles along the road of the player, because, as Nate said, the story needs “to feel cohesive and meaningful, it has to build towards one destination the whole time“.
Almost two years ago, I’ve tried a very early version of the game and what I can say is that, even at the time, the game was absolutely amazing, something that I had never tried before.
Obviously even if a feature like that represents a big step towards the future, I don’t think this is the only solution to the repetitiveness of the stories. I’m strongly convinced that, with a little effort, it is still possible to imagine and create infinite fascinating stories. After all, like Dostoevsky once said: “how could you live and have no story to tell?”
INFINITE DUNGEON CRAWLER – 1st June
Let’s begin with this little-known title.
I’ve discovered it while I was taking a look at the upcoming releases from the Steam database, so I don’t know much about it. From the Steam page it seems to be a classic turn-based tactical RPG, with a graphic style that gives a nod to the good old times.
It will be released in a free to play version, with no annoying ads or in-app purchases, BUT your character will not be able to progress beyond level 4, so essentially it’s a… demo version.
Among its features we find:
- 8 character classes to choose from (Fighter, Mage, Paladin, Rogue, Cleric, Ranger, Druid, and Alchemist)
- Specialize in one-handed melee weapons, ranged weapons like bows, use a staff of fire … choose your own style and mix your party to be effective
- Slot attributes (e.g., Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Charisma, and Fortitude) and gain skills and abilities as you level up
- Over 50 weapon types: Scimitars, Bastard Swords, Crossbows, Maces, Hammers, and more
- Over 100 different armor types: Plates, Leathers, Boots, Gloves, Helmets, Greaves, and more
- Over 35 different monster types: Goblins, Skeletons, Harpies, Bugbears, Spiders, Rats, Ghouls, Will-o-Wisps, plus more
- Over 120 spells and abilities to choose from for your characters: Burning Hands, Ice Knife, Sleep, Heal Others, Fairy Fire, Divine Light, Precision Strike, Smoke Bomb, Hail of Thorns, and more
- Randomly generated worlds so you never know what to expect during your adventures
On Steam at the beginning of the month.
SLIPWAYS – 3rd June
Ok, now, let’s completely change the setting of our adventures.
From the dungeons to the infinite space! But, wait, before you say “oh no, another strategy game set in space…” you should know that Slipways tries to take only the best parts of the genre, throwing away all the annoying sections (like the micromanagement) and trying, at the same time, to grant a smoother learning curve.
Your task is to transform isolated planets into a vast and successful trade empire.
Maybe the most interesting thing is that you have to achieve this goal in approximately 60 minutes, this is, in fact, the length of a single run, for a game that put great importance on the replayability.
Soon on Steam.
EDGE OF ETERNITY – 8th June
This is one of the major releases of this month, at least for me. Our blog covered Edge of Eternity many times before and the reason is quite obvious: it looks very promising. Finally, after a long period in e.a., EoE will see its full release in a few days.
It tells the story of two heroes, Daryon and Selene, on their quest to fight a mysterious alien force and find a cure to the Corrosion. At its core EoE is a JRPG with an engaging story, accompanied by a funny and strategic turn-based combat system.
Usually I don’t give too much attention to JRPG, because I find them too guided and repetitive, but this time I have very good vibes.
– An enthralling story filled with plot twists and heart-wrenching moments
– A gorgeous fantasy world to explore
– Epic battles with a unique and strategic turn-based combat system
– Charismatic and unforgettable characters
– Stunning soundtrack featuring Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger & Xenoblade Chronicles)
– An advanced crafting system
– A fearless yet adorable beast to befriend
On Steam very soon.
WILDERMYTH – 15th June
I’m really happy for this release. I’ve seen a lot of potential in this game since when, back in 2019, I was lucky enough to try an alpha version.
Trying to say something new in this genre in extremely difficult, but Wildermyth is bold enough to go along different ways without hesitation.
Your characters can grow, take important decisions, fall in love and even die of old age. You are the only one who can write their fate. Everything is up to you. If you add a lovely art style and an engaging and compelling combat system, well, the result can only be a true smash hit!
On Steam in the mid of the month.
ROGUEBOOK – 17th June
I don’t think we have ever covered this game before, but it is, somehow, on my radar for quite some time now.
So what is this all about, are you wondering? Quite simple, at its core Roguebook can be defined as – another! – roguelike deckbuilder but with a few unique mechanics.
You are trapped in a magic book where each page represents a new challenge and your goal is to guide two heroes through 20 levels and here defeat the final boss. The game is divided in two phases: in the first one you have to explore the “pages”, composed of hexagonal tiles full of resources like cards, relics and so on; in the second phase you have to confront enemies with a combat system that, on the paper, reminds me a lot Slay the Spire (so… no bad at all!).
Among its features:
- 6 hero pairs – Choose 2 heroes to start a game. Each hero has a collection of over 50 cards, a personal relic and a unique skill tree.
- Maximise synergies – The hero at the front protects the hero at the back. Switch the positions of your heroes and combine their strengths to unleash powerful combos.
- Strategic battles – Skilfully anticipate and queue up your actions to defeat over 40 bosses and enemies.
- Dynamic deckbuilding – Over 200 cards to cleverly assemble as the game progresses. You will never play with the same deck twice.
- Relics with unique powers – Upgrade your cards with 30 special gems. Collect 80 relics with extraordinary effects.
- More cards, more power! – Each hero has a unique skill tree to unlock. Collect cards and select the best skills!
Soon on Steam
FATE OF WINDSHIFT E.A. – 22th June
Fate of Windshift is described as a mix between a RPG and an ADV.
The story is about a mysterious 64th Platoon and a “matoi style swordsman Onikirimaru”. I don’t know exactly what does it mean, but I’m sure that many of you are eager to find it out.
Don’t ask me anything else, because I’m a total incompetent…
On Steam at the end of the month.
LIVE BY TH SWORD: TACTICS E.A. – 23rd June
Live by the Sword: Tactics belongs to the genre of Tactical-RPGs but tries to differentiate from the others with a couple of original ideas.
First of all, it features both a story mode and a roguelite adventure mode, that, on paper, should grant a lot of replayability. It offers the chance to play online in local battles between two players.
The battle system revolves around 5 vs 5 battles. The player has the choice of building their team with 7 unique classes, choosing between: Alchemist, Archer, Assassin, Brawler, Medic, Warrior and Wizard.
Even the art style is quite interesting because it mixes pixel art, for the characters, and 3D for everything else.
If you are a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics this could be your chance!
COMBAT MISSION COLD WAR – June
As usual when we talk about wargames I can do nothing but report the official descriptions of the game:
“Combat Mission Cold War is set in the tipping-point years of a conflict that gripped the world for 45 years. Between 1979-1982, both the NATO and Soviet Warsaw Pact militaries began the shift away from industrialized warfare of the early 20th century and towards the modern digital battlefield of today.”
On Steam any time during the next month.
And also for this month that’s all.
This time I take the opportunity to give a special thanks to everybody has the patience to read me!
Very interesting introduction. We so often experience these tropes (amnesiac or “the chosen one” character), we never enough praise other narratives.
Even if I check upcoming games almost daily (for my weekly Newspeek, recap in French of released and upcoming games of all genres), I learned here about a few titles that are now under my radar too 😉
Thanks for another interesting collection of turn based games, I am looking forward to seeing how they turn out.