Strategy games seem to get better and better with each generation at a pace that outdoes most other genres. Even if they’re more often than not less action-packed than many of their competitors, the additional depth of interlocking systems and inspirations of past successes continue to push the genre into greatness. Tactical RPGs are one of the many branches of strategy that benefit from new ideas and technology and we’ve seen this in recent instant classics like Tyranny, Pillars of Eternity 2, and Divinity: Original Sin 2. Each of these titles has brought something new to the table, and I’m confident that Solasta: Crown of the Magister is already showing great potential to be added to this list if Tactical Adventures keeps pushing ahead at full steam.
What Is It?
First and foremost, Solasta is a tactical RPG in the vein of those that have come before it. It makes use of the Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition SRD (ruleset) to create an experience that will feel familiar gameplay-wise to the grandpappy of RPGs while implemented some new concepts for giving a PC game something closer to the roleplaying immersion of the tabletop variety. Even better, it’s made by a team that’s passionate about pen & paper gaming, some of which are already veterans of some excellent projects that have graced our PCs in the past.
While the core of Solasta will feel familiar to many gamers experienced in RPGs, there are a few features that caught my eye and stand out to me. Most importantly, characters creation and roleplaying immersion are a clear focus by the developers and, to say the least, I’m a huge supporter of that mindset. You’ll design your party of four by choosing races and classes, assigning attributes, and selecting skills, but you’ll also be determining backgrounds and personalities. These last two are more intertwined than I’ve seen in the past. Backgrounds grant some new abilities and perks, which we’ve seen in the past, but now each background and alignment offer four personality choices; two can be selected from each. These determine how your character behaves, as well as their overall speech patterns. Often, you’ll have the option to double up if you so choose as well. Are you hoping to make a paladin who needs to be in control at all times? Pick authoritative twice, once from your her background and once from her alignment.
This system of dialog and personality is great combined with the fact that there isn’t a singular main character. Your dialog options are determined by the personality of those in your party and you options don’t revolve around what is said specifically, but who it is that will speak up. I’m very much looking forward to this and can’t wait to have my own custom party that makes its way through the setting on their own terms.
Another new development is the consideration of height that will often have you changing up your tactics. Environmental interactions are present here that can be used to your advantage, and the vertical nature that’s been added in makes them all the more relevant. We’ve seen something like this in XCOM, for example, but it’s a new development in cRPGs as far as I’m aware. Flying offers some serious benefits, both to you and your foes, and you’ll have to deal with fly-by attacks that result in enemies escaping before you’ve had a chance to attack them. Unless, of course, you use the convenient ability to ready attacks, which is an overwatch of sorts, that allows you to attack when a foe moves into your range.
A Final Thought or Two
Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a promising cRPG title that takes great inspiration from those that have come before but also has the ambition to improve and surpass them. It may still be some time before it releases on Steam, though Tactical Adventures seems to be going full-speed ahead on their development and are already making impressive progress across the board. I, for one, have already wishlisted it and have a strong feeling of optimism for this one.
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