Most people have heard of D&D or Dungeons and Dragons. Even if they don’t exactly know what it is. For those that do know what it is, they probably know that it as the butt of many jokes when describing it’s players and stereotypes. I for one, have always wanted to play it.
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1974. Where players sit around a table or surface and create their own adventurers. These made up characters then set off on imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master (DM) acts as the game’s referee and storyteller, while maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur, and playing the role of the none player characters of the game world. The player made characters form a party and they interact with the setting’s created by the DM and each other. All these interactions are dictated by special ten sided dice. They are also aided by maps and sometimes miniatures that represent their characters and movements in the fantasy world.
So that’s how the original D&D goes. They’ve been many iterations that have played with this formula over the years. Venturing out to board games, cartoons and even other settings, such as sci-fi and even zombie apocalypses.
D&D has always intrigued me. But up until recently, it’s remained something at arms length. This mostly due to the amount of people needed to actually play it. Due to moving to another town and away from relatives and friends, my social circle is somewhat smaller these days. And with the recent Covid-19, that circle became none existent. Hopefully with things slowly returning to normal, I’ll be able to extend that circle to some of the other members of Respawning, who have also expressed an interest in playing it. But, until this happens, I may have stumbled across an alternative on Steam.
Solsta: Crown of the Magister is an upcoming Turn-Based RPG from developers Tactical Adventures. What makes this game special is that the developers have been issued an official licence from the D&D owners Wizards of the coast to use the latest 5.1 ruleset. So this new game is based entirely on the tabletop D&D and has taken all its elements and transferred them to a video game.
The developers Tactical Adventures is a relatively small developer, consisting of only seventeen peoples. And the game originally began as a Kickstarter campaign and received €243,855 (at the time of writing this article) of its original €180,000 target. The studio set out their goal; “…to recreate the feel of a tabletop RPG onscreen, through the faithful adaptation of rules and universes.” The game is currently due to release on Steam and can be added to your wish list.
And this brings me to why I’m writing this article, Steam had a ‘Gaming Festival’, highlighting new games and developers. Its offering hundreds of game demos and developer interviews etc. And Solsta: Crown of the Magister, was one of those titles, that received a demo for download. And I’ve been playing the demo over the last few weeks, dipping in and out. I want to start, by going over the various mechanics that have been placed into the games, that echo it’s D&D tabletop base.
The entire game is based on the Dungeons and Dragons SRD 5.1 Ruleset. What this means is that the game uses the latest official rules of the tabletop game, that determine the outcome of various actions taken in the game. This can be from anything like how an Orc may react to a certain attack, to how a character reacts to a certain poison. For me personally, this really helps me understand the deep mechanics of the D&D world.
All the standard race tropes available at my time of playing, are typical Dungeons and Dragons archetypes. Thiers the human faction, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings. All of these have various subcategories, with the exception of humans. The character creation is really rich in this game and I personally love the amount of customisation you can do.
Once a player has chosen their race, they have to choose their class. Again, these are typical classes, straight from the Dungeons and Dragon playbook. These are; Clerics, Rogues, Fighters, Wizards, Ranger and Paladin. With the Sorcerer class available at a later date.
Within this character creation is also your character traits. These are assigned by yourself, during character creation. It can be done either by rolling in game dice, that randomly generate numbers that you pick and assign to the various traits, or by simply assigning from a determined number until that number hits zero.
As you can see, Solasta has recreated its tabletop counterpart really well, its managed to take what is, essentially, a printed manual and transferred into a rich interactive experience.
Solasta works, exactly how you’d expect a turn based RPG to works. You select and move your characters around in a turn based system. Using turns to move, attack or explore. What really struck me was the environments in which you’re moving around in. The parts i played had me exploring ruins, dungeons and rocky canyons. All in an awesome three dimensional way. I was able climb steep cliff sides or jump across rickety wooden platforms. Not what I was expecting from a turn based RPG.
Combat is a typical affair. Nothing revolutionary here. You use you character(s) to fight or move, turn by turn. Using weapons, spells and potions found whilst exploring the world. Despite this being a pretty standard affair now, it never became stale as I was playing. Each encounter was genuinely enjoyable.
So, my final thoughts. I really like this game. And I didn’t think I would. I really don’t get on with turn based games. I shun them and usually refuse to play them. Solasta though, has something special, something I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe its the D&D setting, the 3D environments. I just don’t know. I can’t give a review for this game, as I only played a demo. The purpose of this article is to bring it your attention. This is definitely a game to keep an eye on.
Solasta: Crown of the Magister is yet to receive a release date. It’s currently available to add to your Steam wish list. Check out the links below the video for it’s official webpage and steam link.