Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest Released

Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest, the debut project of Ctrl Alt Ninja, a relatively new studio that consists of former Legend of Grimrock developers, is now available on both Steam and GOG. This tactical turn-based RPG will task you with completing 35 challenging missions and in the process uncovering some mysteries of a magical forest, dealing with an ancient evil or two, and developing the skills of several unique and colorful characters. The game's retail price is set at $24.99 or your regional equivalent.

Instead of a launch trailer, the developers bring us this video showcasing one of Druidstone's early missions:

Here's the game's official description:

Evil is afoot in Menhir Forest. The druids, the caretakers of the woods, are troubled: their archdruid has disappeared under deeply suspicious circumstances, and a cancerous growth of purple cysts is spreading, carrying corruption and sickness wherever they appear. It takes a special kind of hero to save the day. Or maybe more than one.

Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest is a labor of love from the co-creators of the critically acclaimed Legend of Grimrock series. Druidstone is a tactical, single-player, turn-based roleplaying game, which combines the best qualities of modern RPGs with the elegance of tactical boardgames. Every action, every turn counts as you control your party of heroes through handcrafted, challenging missions with varying, and often surprising, objectives.

Set in a unique fantasy world, Druidstone is filled with ancient lush forests, standing stones, snow-topped mountains, deadly creatures and puzzle-ridden ruins. And somewhere in the middle of all of this, caught in the flow of events, are Aava, the archdruid's daughter, who must now shoulder his responsibilities, Leonhard, a warden with a mysterious past and a lethal destiny, and Oiko, the failed Red Priest who is living proof that one may be very smart without being particularly wise. Along the way, they meet companions and villains, whose unique personalities and abilities make every encounter memorable.

Key Features
  • A tactical turn-based and tile-based battle system where every action and every turn counts.
  • Upgrade the abilities of your heroes – your upgrade choices have a dramatic impact on the characters' capabilities!
  • Obtain upgrade gems by completing missions and discovering hidden treasures.
  • 35 challenging, hand-crafted missions with playtimes ranging from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
  • Solve devious non-combat puzzle levels to gain extra upgrade resources.
  • Find lost shipments to gain access to the best gear in Steelface's Emporium of Curios.
  • A gripping, fantastic story of love, death and responsibility centered around the main characters of Aava, Leonhard and Oiko.
  • A unique fantasy setting that combines the best elements from western RPGs, JRPGs and tactical boardgames in unexpected ways.
  • Play custom missions created by others, or make your own campaigns with the Druidstone Level Editor (available as a post-release update).
  • Total playtime ranging from 15 to 20 hours.

You may also be interested in checking out this recent PC Gamer interview with the game's developers that covers the reasons behind Druidstone not being Legend of Grimrock III, the game's tabletop inspirations, and more. A snippet:

Tabletop Roots

While Grimrock was clearly inspired by classic grid-based dungeon crawlers, Druidstone owes much of its tactical gameplay to tabletop RPGs and board games, such as Dungeons & Dragons and HeroQuest. "We are avid board game players and Druidstone is certainly inspired by many of them," says Häkkinen. "We really like the compactness of board games, the small numbers, and the emergent complexity that arises from the seemingly simple rules."

As a big fan of Gloomhaven, a popular tactical RPG board game, I was delighted to see some major similarities in Druidstone. Each of my three party members have basic attacks and special abilities and spells they can perform a limited number of times each battle, not unlike the per-rest abilities in D&D or loss cards in Gloomhaven. The warden’s whirlwind strike hits all adjacent enemies, but figuring out when to expel its only use is often an agonizing decision.

"I heard about Gloomhaven only a few months ago and immediately knew I had to get it," says Häkkinen. "It’s interesting to see how completely separate design processes have ended up with a result that in some ways resemble each other very much. I was reading [Gloomhaven designer] Isaac Childres’ blog the other day and he mentioned Grimrock as one of his inspirations. Now the circle is complete!"