Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a tactical, turn-based RPG set within a sword-and-sorcery world. The game is deeply rooted in the tabletop RPG genre, and developer Tactical Adventures has gone as far as licensing the Dungeons & Dragons 5.1 ruleset to deliver as authentic and familiar an experience as possible. With Solasta, RPG fans have a rich character creator, turn-based combat, and expansive dungeon maps to look forward to when the game launches in 2021. While the game is still in its alpha stages, Solasta’s foundations are solid and show promise. Despite a few graphical issues and wonky camera system, Solasta is shaping up to be a noteworthy PC game.
An Iconic Framework
Tactical Adventures has taken a decidedly old school approach in crafting this RPG. You begin by creating a four-hero party using the multi-page character creator. It lets you select a race, class, deity, and background for each party member. In addition, you can tweak individual proficiencies, such as strength, constitution, and intelligence, thus fine-tuning the team to your liking. No one character can excel at everything, but if you plan your crew well, you’ll control a diverse adventurer squad that covers most of the game bases.
You have five core races to choose from (Human, Halfling, Dwarf, Elf, or Half Elf) with some races further divided into sub-races. Each race features bonus stats that set them apart. For example, Dwarf races possess enhanced constitution as a general racial trait, but the Snow Dwarf sub-race, in particular, enjoys increased dexterity, too. Starting races have a variety of other unique features, such as language knowledge, luck, and nimbleness, that make them valuable and affect how these characters interact with NPCs, fight, or traverse terrain. There is a lot to chew through right at the start, but it’s worth taking time to build a balanced party.
Solasta uses six starting classes from Dungeon & Dragons 5th Edition: Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, and Wizard. Each class uses specialized weaponry and armor in combat, as well as a unique fighting style. Clerics are proficient with light and medium armors, shields, maces, and spell casting. Fighters, on the other hand, are melee-oriented warriors who are proficient with all armor types and most martial weapons.
After selecting a class, you choose a background for each character that determines backstories and quests. The party members can start out as a Spy, Sellsword, Lowlife, Philosopher, Acolyte, Academic, Law Keeper, or Aristocrat. These origins also affect the character’s personality flags, so a Spy is cynical and cautious, whereas a Law Keeper is pragmatic and lawful.
Again, these choices determine how the character interacts with the world, be that with the monsters that haunt Solasta’s dungeons or the NPC’s that fill cities. All of this can seem daunting, but the varying abilities and stats are all very well explained within the character creator. The experience is surprisingly intuitive, if a bit long-winded. Still, considering these are your player characters throughout the entire game, it makes sense to take the time to optimize your team. Tactical Adventures doesn’t prevent you from making a team of clones, if that’s how you want to roll your characters.
Way of the World
The adventure begins after you’ve finished crafting your heroes. Eons ago, Manacalon—a glorious Elven empire—was reduced to a vile wasteland in a mysterious cataclysm, and the evil that haunted the region stirs again. Your party is drafted to investigate the happenings within those so-called Badlands.
After the initial tutorial missions, quests that explain how your party members meet up and teach you the basics of dungeon traversal, you’re free to venture into the wilds. Solasta features a flat overworld in the form of a weathered map that your team travels across. Time passes based on the distance traveled, and you are vulnerable to random encounters as you make headway to any of the major sites on the map.
Landmarks, such as dungeons and cities, feature their own top-down camera perspective and utilize point-and-click movement. Solasta’s maps feature lots of verticality, so heroes and enemies spend some time climbing. Elevation often awards attack advantages, like increased range or access to environmental hazards; resourceful players should leverage these advantages whenever possible.
Light is another crucial element within the game world. Fighting in the dark comes with harsh accuracy penalties, so illumination is important. On the flip side, darkness is a useful asset when avoiding an enemy’s line of sight. The maps are packed with detail, including interactive objects, shadows, and hazards.
The only downside to these rich zones is that the camera is pulled back surprisingly far, thus reducing some area details. The camera pans across the action in cinematic fashion during attacks, but it doesn’t account for taller objects. As a result, you occasionally get a cool shot of a mundane wall as your characters fight behind it. Tactical Adventures is aware of camera issues and is actively working to improve the system.
Easy to Handle
Movement is a grid-based affair. Each hero and enemy unit can move several tiles in any direction, as dictated by their stats. Characters can also take offensive or defensive actions independent of movement, though they can only take one such action during their turn. A list of bold, informative icons span the bottom of the screen, indicating the actions a character can take in the given situation. The ready icon lets you attack with melee or ranged equipment, but you also have icons for casting a spell, using special abilities, and using items. It doesn’t take long at all to understand how combat and movement works, and this is especially true for players with some degree of tactical gaming experience.
Randomness permeates Solasta’s world. From the proficiencies you roll during the character creation process to the hit-or-miss chances rolled under the hood during battle, there is always a degree of unpredictability in your gameplay experience. Tactical Adventures incorporates that by design. Still, the team is hard at work balancing the game so that you aren’t overwhelmed. For example, your characters can die during combat, but Solasta gives you options to revive fallen allies within settlements or by using character skills. There is no permanent death like in tactical games like XCOM; your party is a core pillar of the gameplay, and so the game gives you avenues to bring them back should your best laid plans fall through.
Solasta: Crown of the Magister is still a ways off from an official release, which is scheduled for early 2021. As a result, the game’s system requirements are to be determined. Still, Tactical Adventures recently dropped a Solasta demo, and expect to release another one this summer. If you’re in the mood for a tabletop-style RPG, Solasta is shaping up to be a fantastic diversion, so stay tuned for more updates.