Reviews - Updated on July 18, 2022

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Will classic RPG and soullike get along?

Combining a classic isometric RPG, inspired by Baldur’s Gate and Pillars of Eternity, and soullike battles is an interesting idea, you see. And if this is superimposed on the participation in the development of Chris Avellone himself (Chris Avellone), then increased attention to such a project cannot be avoided. Moreover, the authors of Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms, unlike many of their colleagues, did not disown the scriptwriter of Planescape: Torment after accusations of harassment were brought against Chris. They assured that Avellone had already completed work on the project – for him he came up with the mythology of the world and the biographies of many characters.

World development is one of the main strengths of Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms. What else can please or upset the early version, which finally appeared on Steam five years after the announcement of the project?

Not Baldur’s Gate, but still good

I’ll start with the good news. First, Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms looks and sounds amazing. If you already find yourself in the snow-capped mountains, you feel how your bones freeze, and when you enter a tavern flooded with warm light, you smell ale and delicious stew that is cooked right there – you just want to collapse at the table and listen to the local bard.

If you find yourself at night in a big city ruled by one of the most dangerous orc clans, you feel the dark pathos of this gloomy place. And so it is with everything. All settlements of people, elves, dwarves and orcs look atmospheric and in their own way – and even almost every location has its own (well-chosen) music.

And if you already get into the throne room, you immediately understand that kings and nobles sit here.

And if you already get into the throne room, you immediately understand that kings and nobles sit here.

Secondly, the world is really big, with a lot of details. A bunch of cities and other unique places belonging to different races; their stories, heroes and villains, myths, legends; wars, cataclysms and other important events; factions and guilds; types of monsters and outlandish creatures; biographies of other “champions” competing with the main character – all this and much, much more we learn by exploring the world and communicating with the characters.

And all this adds up to the code. I saw such a plump and elaborate in-game encyclopedia only in Dragon Age. Yes, the plot itself is banal – there are four familiar races and one villain, the fallen god Alaloth, who poses a threat to all mortals, and therefore must be defeated, for which we, as the elected champion, are looking for another very important artifacts. But thanks to such a study of the world and an abundance of details, everything seems alive and convincing.

The map is constantly moving.  If you stop, they will chase you and attack you.

The map is constantly moving. If you stop, they will chase you and attack you.

Moreover, the world in Alaloth is also quite lively, developing. We move around the global map in real time, much like in Mount & Blade (and you can also remember the recent The Iron Oath). And at the same time, enemies, neutral monsters, as well as other heroes and champions are moving with us, who are also chasing important artifacts in order to defeat the dark god, and can also visit quest locations. The key of the latter are the “battle arenas”, the clearing of which allows you to get new levels, and also increases our reputation with the faction in whose territory the task was issued.

Therefore, the champions, in theory, compete to be the first to clear such arenas. Why “in theory”? Because in the early version, this mechanic is clearly not worked out to the end and I did not feel much competition.

Each champion chooses a patron god.

Each champion chooses a patron god.

As for the quests, at first glance they may disappoint those who were waiting for an RPG in the spirit of Pillars of Eternity. Battle arenas, clearing locations and an abundance of the same type of orders from bulletin boards do not really fit with this category of games. There are a lot of quests about Find, Kill, Bring, but, firstly, even these are often interesting, and secondly, if you play longer, you will see that there are more interesting tasks here.

I had to study rumors to find out the ins and outs of the current political intrigue; investigate the murder of women; look for a way to remove the curse from the unfortunate orc. And once the usual request of a bum to buy him wine in the nearest tavern turned into a treasure hunt and a confession to a long-committed crime, after which the man asked to set the victim’s wife on him – they say, he deserved it. Agree, an unexpected twist. But I have not noticed any non-linearity in quests, social skills.

In such cases, there is no choice.

In such cases, there is no choice.

Non-classical soullike in a classic RPG

The combat system in Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms is reminiscent of soulslicks: there is a block, a counterattack, a dash, a kick, and all this costs stamina. And the controls are like in action games. Serious enemies come across, especially bosses and those armed with shields (you first need to contrive to break through them). But there are no manual saves. Battle arenas must be cleared immediately, going from the entrance to the exit, but if you are killed, the character will be thrown to the nearest altar, and all the equipment will wear out more. You can immediately try again, but it’s better to visit the blacksmith to repair things.

Well, in general, a lot of attention is paid to equipment in the game. There are rare and legendary items with additional characteristics, crafting and enchantment. Extra things must be thrown away or sold – the weight in the inventory is also taken into account. And at first, money is very necessary – potions and healing food are expensive.

As for the classic leveling, we don’t get levels very often. Usually, “levelup” allows you to increase strength, agility, stamina or luck by one, and only once every few levels they are allowed to learn new traits (gives passive bonuses like enhanced protection against elemental damage) and active skills related to the three schools (combat, magic and divine).

Of course, the set of levels matters, but at first it is more important to quickly acquire cool equipment. The situation is also facilitated by the appearance of partners who can fight side by side with us – in this case, either AI or another player will control them.

Combat skills become a great help.  The Russian language has not yet been delivered, but the principle of their action is quite clear from the descriptions.

Combat skills become a great help. The Russian language has not yet been delivered, but the principle of their action is quite clear from the descriptions.

Each partner, like in classic party RPGs, has his own story and personal quest. But not everyone is ready to join us – here the starting choice of race, faith and worldview of our champion already matters.

Companions can drop out of the battle, but they never die, repairs cost very little (this mechanic looks superfluous for now), and the constant respawning of enemies allows you to grind money and equipment, so Alaloth, of course, cannot be compared with some other soullikes in terms of the level of challenge. Although you should not relax in high-level battle arenas.

In such cases, I am in no hurry to draw conclusions – the fact that not everything is fine with the balance and not all the declared mechanics work is completely normal for an early version. As well as the presence of bugs that I encountered. And about them, and about the problems with the balance, the authors honestly warn on the game page. More importantly, Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms is already showing its face and atmosphere.

Yes, this is unlikely to be a new Baldur’s Gate in terms of non-linearity. But I was still interested: there is an excellent audiovisual performance in the spirit of classic RPGs, a living world, a sea of ​​\u200b\u200badventure and a good role-playing system. And the soulslick-flavored battles add a special flair to classic RPG drills. But there is a lot of work ahead – the main thing is that it does not drag on for another five years.

Đánh giá Star
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