Developer: Tactical Adventures
Release Date: May 27, 2021
For quite a while, RPG games probably made up about 50% of what I played. Knowing that when I bought a game, I’d be able to get lost in a story and spread that gameplay over weeks – or longer – made me giddy. In recent years, I’ve found myself avoiding RPGs for exactly that reason – the length of the stories are intimidating. Solasta: Crown of the Magister is perhaps even a little short, by RPG standards – HowLongToBeat estimates a play time of 35-45 hours for the base game – but it took over an hour just to get my party created and through the tutorial portions of the game, and it was over two and a half before I completed the first major story beat.
You start with a four character party; there are premade characters you can choose but the game recommends that you create your own. The game begins in an inn, where all four of your characters have come together, all applying for the same job – to work for the Legacy Council. While you wait for you prospective employer to show up, the party members exchange stories, which you get to play through to learn some of the basic mechanics of the game.
Of course, you’re hired as a group, and tasked with checking out an outpost with which the kingdom has recently lost contact. There’s quite a bit in the town to explore and interact with, if you’re so inclined, but I just wanted to get into the meat of the game. In retrospect, I wish I had picked up some extra healing potions before I got on the road.
If you’re craving an experience close to the experience of playing tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, this might be a good choice, provided of course it’s tabletop combat you’re hoping for. I personally always felt like combat was the least interesting part of a good table top game. Dice rolls are plentiful in combat, less common (but not absent) from the rest of the game, and just like real dice, sometimes they hate you. The randomness that comes with being reliant on dice isn’t my favorite mechanic – I like to succeed or fail on my strategies and skills, and not because my random numbers are bad, and the monster’s random numbers are good.
Now, I haven’t played a tabletop game in probably a dozen years, and the last really beefy party-based RPG I played was probably Dragon Age: Origins back in 2017, although my library is positively bursting with them. I want to get lost in these worlds, but I always forget how slow these games can feel. That was probably my biggest gripe with Solasta: Crown of the Magister. Movement feels slow. Combat feels slow. Cutscenes can feel eternal (although those can be sped up by clicking through them). Loot – at least in the early game – doesn’t feel particularly exciting or motivational. I don’t want to say I didn’t enjoy my time with it at all – I just kind of felt like I was always waiting for the next thing, waiting for it to get so good I didn’t want to stop playing. I didn’t quite make it. I expect that this genre of game just isn’t for me anymore – I’ve really been drawn to shorter, more focused story-driven experiences over the past few years.
SteamDB estimates that Solasta: Crown of the Magister has sold somewhere between 226,300 and 622,300 copies on Steam. It seems to be a fairly popular fill in title for folks waiting impatiently for the next Baldur’s Gate, and reviews have been generally positive. It is ranked 412 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.