Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

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Online: from 23.05.2015

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September 07, 2019

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Can avid Dungeons & Dragons fans create a fun RPG for PC? Can interactive entertainment capture the passions of live gamers? And is it really the return of “roles” to desktop ancestors – this is progress? The employees of the independent Tactical Adventures studio answer all questions in the affirmative. And as an argument, they offer to play a short (even too much) demo of Solasta: Crown of the Magister. But according to the master’s crown?

“Best PC RPG Ever”

Here you are laughing, namely, this is the future that the head of development Mathieu Girard will read to his offspring, as he stated in a blue eye in the announcing video diary. So let’s not joke – people are trying. Meet the crown of works and the revolution of the genre. After all, no one has ever collected four characters in one game: a knight, an archer, a magician and a healer. And there has never been such a thing that this whole quartet descended into a gloomy dungeon, teeming with orcs and spiders. Never-before-seen conversations between elves and dwarves plunge the foundations of fantasy, and rescuing a person in distress is completely new for RPG. Do you feel the spirit of change?Solasta: Crown of the Magister preview

I wonder how long the developers have seen living women?

The missing poor fellow, by the way, is called Hector, and he climbed into the catacombs of the imperial ruins for a reason. But his name and motives, as well as the plot about the next end of the world, are not very important, because the main task of the demo is to reveal the features of the gameplay. It, according to the authors, is inspired by board games and offers much more opportunities than any Pillars of Eternity or Divinity: Original Sin. Tactical Adventures focuses on three key features of their work.

First of all – on the vertical arrangement of locations. Even underground is full of all sorts of stairs, ivy-covered walls and non-obvious passages through which you can get to the level below or above – somewhat reminiscent of Moria, depicted in the film “The Lord of the Rings”. Thanks to this decision, it was possible to make interesting traps: for example, you step on a rotten wooden bridge, and it collapses. Usually in an RPG this results in death, but in Solasta it is enough to use the levitation spell in time to safely land on the floor below. Architecture is also important in battles: an archer on a hill acts more efficiently, and if a guard is trampling under a boulder, it is probably allowed to crush the enemy with a stone block, pushing it from a height.

Well thought out, but there is a problem. And the most obvious – we are talking about an uncomfortable camera. It rarely allows you to fully assess the situation and consider the details. But the floors of the passed floors now and then fall into the frame, the lens falls somewhere into the rock and refuses to give an important scene for passing from one angle. Here is an example: in the catacombs, you need to open the door by dropping a stone on it. But if you missed the first element of the puzzle and gathered the characters near the cherished door, pointing the camera at the “ram” will no longer work. Although he is in the same room, just a little higher. And go and figure it out, is this a glitch of the script or so conceived.

Solasta: Crown of the Magister preview

Enemies don’t like vertical levels: AI-controlled spiders are blunted and crowded on the walls, blocking each other’s line of fire.

The second feature of the gameplay is lighting. It’s not that the underground halls are shrouded in piercing darkness, which can only be dispelled by the light from a torch or a magical staff. No, fire is tactically important: without it, you can act stealthily, and with it, you can deal more damage to the fiends of the night, such as spiders. And then, having divided the characters for some purpose, you need to make sure that everyone has lighting fixtures. Otherwise, there is a great risk of missing a treasure chest or getting lost in the darkness between three pillars.

Finally, a lot of attention was paid to the characters. For each character, they came up with a behavior model, so in the dialogues there is a choice of a couple of replicas from different people, and not from the leader of the group. For example, a thug in armor is always for a forceful solution of problems and “It’s good to talk, let’s get out of here”, the elf is rogue and self-serving, and the magician usually throws in an average solution – indulges both ours and yours. However, a formidable big man would have looked more interesting in the role of the most cautious member of the party – it’s a pity, here, too, “industry veterans” think in patterns.

Not great, but not terrible either

There are a lot of nice little things in Solasta: how do you, for example, the ability to build bridges by dropping columns on crevices? But to excite such minds in 2019 is an empty undertaking. On the other hand, the battles are really interesting: they are turn-based, in the spirit of “Moved – attacked”, and in them each fighter also has a role. One holds a blow and really cuts with a sword, while the other is better to hide in a corner so that he can act at a distance. Nobody interferes with the use of shelters, potion vials and spell scrolls picked up along the way, but they are of little use. But the blows, magic and skills that the heroes are endowed with from the very beginning are much stronger – that’s why they are released on coupons, in strictly limited quantities.

The party accepts the first battle fully armed, therefore it seems too powerful for attacking weaklings. He threw a series of fireballs, gasped with lightning, healed one of the allies – and the danger was gone. Only now, having used up all the ammunition, the next time you find yourself in an unenviable situation, especially if the opponents take the number. And there is only one clue – they forgot to rest. To replenish strength between fights, the team can arrange a halt. A short one restores skills partially, and a long one completely. But you can’t put up a tent around every turn, because it requires food supplies. As a result, you have to carefully plan your steps, saving up trump cards for the final fights.

Judging by the demo, Solasta will never be the “best RPG in history”, even if it adds a choice of races, a dozen endings and Keanu Reeves (Keanu Reeves). The developers think too standard when creating the world, heroes, enemies and scenario. But before the release, there is still time to come up with more adventures and at the same time fix technical errors. Then Crown of the Magister will be, if not a masterpiece, but a solid role-playing game, for which it is not a sin to pass an evening or two.

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