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Solasta: Crown of a Magister is a fantasy RPG from Tactical Adventures, a team of RPG enthusiasts helmed by Mathieu Girard of Endless Space, Legend, etc. fame. Set in the original world of Solasta, the game utilizes the OGL version of Dungeons & Dragons' 5th Edition ruleset, which makes it one of the first digital adaptations of this immensely popular iteration of D&D.
Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, Solasta spent several months in early access. An early access phase that lasts less than a year? That alone should tell you these developers mean business. And sure enough, the game's early builds were already showing quite a bit of promise. And with the full game now live, let's dive straight in and see what it has to offer.
Ruleset and Systems
The first thing we should note about Solasta is that while it's positioned as a tactical RPG, in reality, it sits somewhere in-between a tactical title and a fully-featured CRPG. Essentially, it can be seen as the 5th Edition's Icewind Dale, where your party of customizable adventurers follows a mostly linear path of straight-forward quests that usually culminate in combat, but structurally it's all arranged in a way you'd expect from a proper CRPG - hub towns with shops and NPCs, factions and reputation, various side quests and optional activities.
And while these bigger RPG elements tend to be pared down, they still provide Solasta with this air of adventure and excitement you won't get from an unabashed tactics game where you're just hopping between encounters with occasional story intermissions.
Another thing of note about Solasta is its options menu. Before you even get to the actual game, you'll be greeted with a very robust screen that will let you customize and fine-tune a lot of things. And while yes, you do get plenty of graphics options that should allow you to run the game without major issues even on a fairly humble system, it's the gameplay-related options that are the real treat there.
For starters, you get to pick one of five difficulty settings, with the middle one offering an authentic D&D experience. But then you can further customize things by adjusting a bunch of sliders, while also ticking and unticking numerous boxes that will help you better tailor the experience to your liking.
You can make monsters smarter and deadlier. You get to choose between rolling for health on level-ups or getting your full die of hit points. There are three different encumbrance variants, an option to preserve dice rolls between reloads, an option to group monsters according to their initiative, and much more.
Deserving a special mention is a set of options that revolve around spellcasting rules. Sure, you can just run around throwing fireballs left and right, but where's the fun in that? Alternatively, you can go for a more true-to-tabletop experience where spells have verbal, somatic, and material components. In gameplay terms, this means that to cast a spell, your characters will need a free hand, a spell focus item, and the ability to speak, with certain spells requiring some specific ingredient item on top of that. It's really nice to have all this stuff in a video game.
And while we're talking difficulty, generally, the authentic mode with some custom options that make things a bit more spicy offers a nice level of challenge provided you're not using an optimized party and aren't resting at every opportunity. If you play Solasta that way, you'll have a reasonably challenging experience where some encounters are easy while others can pose quite a threat. And being able to up the difficulty even further is very much welcome.
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