Shores Unknown is a turn-based RPG currently in development by Vallynne and published by Hitcents. I played an early access version on Steam and found it to be a game fun and full of potential, but lacking a few mechanics which will hopefully be addressed by release.
The soul of any turn-based game is the battle system and Shores Unknown brings some refreshing novelty. At its core, it functions like Suikoden where the player chooses all the characters’ actions in an ‘order’ phase and watches the round play out in a real-time 3D environment.
Character initiative decides turn order with an RTS style engagement system adding attacks of opportunity if characters disengage from a fight. Each character learns skills that use the turn-generated resource SP and have varying costs and effects which make up the tactical element of the game. Overall the player can expect some tried and true turn-based fantasy elements like spells slinging at sword and board, but delivered with an RTS-like presentation.
My early opinion is that gameplay is sound, but not enough attention has been given to the battle phase mechanics, most notably characters have no zone of control or movement cost so the entire enemy force can and will waltz past your front line and terminate the squishy characters immediately. I do, however, feel like the Devs are competent and have created a possible gem.
I only got about 3 hours in, but the story and narrative are a standout.
Aesthetically, Shores Unknown will appeal to those that enjoy N64 era polygons, but with more colors and shading. The areas to explore are not expansive but are well-suited for the fast-paced story. I found the character design to be hit or miss, but not to bad. Probably my only gripe being how often NPCs walk backward to turn around. Maybe just a pet peeve. I only got about 3 hours in, but the story and narrative are a standout.
The writers drop the player directly in the middle of an invasion where friend and foe are indistinguishable. The player navigates through the events using a combination of linear quests and in-the-moment choices that focus more on how the characters shall proceed instead of why they proceed. In other words a focus on choosing the specific method of getting from A to Z as opposed to whether or not NPCs think you’re a nice guy or not.
The sound and music do a fine job keeping the appropriate emotions at the fore, but nothing stood out as overly incredible. That said most of my favorite scores get hot towards the end so no worries. Shores Unknown is, while unpolished and in need of some battle system mechanics, definitely worth wishlisting. It’s a game for those who enjoy interesting battle systems and a compelling story. The character designs and aesthetics serve well enough while the UI and camera are on par with the genre. I give it a tip of the cap for what has been presented and hope to see a solid game here directly.