Tobold's Blog
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Eon Altar

Most consoles have the ability to connect several controllers and play games in local multi-player mode, whether that be co-op or against each other. PC games don't often offer local multi-player modes. Usually there is just one set of keyboard + mouse controls, and that makes everything but "hot seat" multi-player somewhat difficult. Eon Altar is claiming to have found the solution for that: Everybody has a smart phone or tablet anyways, so why not use those as controllers for a local co-op RPG for up to 4 players?

Not only do the mobile devices serve as controllers, but they also allow each player to have secrets like personal quests or personalized thoughts. And only the player in question sees his dialogue options and menus. While other players need to wait for dialogue choices, other character management menus can be used without holding up the rest of the party.

Sounds like a good idea, but in reality there are some flaws in the plan: Console controllers are made in a way that you don't need to look at them while you use them, leaving you free to watch the screen. That doesn't work for touch screens, so in Eon Altar you constantly need to switch between looking at the main screen and looking at your mobile device screen. I tried to play Eon Altar solo and the controls were so awkward that I gave up after half an hour. I don't have a PC connected to a living room TV either, so local multi-player would at most work for two in my little office. Not that I'm sure that 4 people sitting on a couch around a living room screen would want to play an epic, episodic RPG instead of something shorter.

The turn-based combat isn't bad, except for the friendly fire. My crusader had an ability to swing his sword in a circle, damaging everybody around him, including his allies. Either I missed it, or the range of it wasn't clearly displayed, and as players act simultaneously others could easily run into your area effect even if you didn't want to hit them. On the positive side the game is sold in episodes, so buying the first episode and testing it out with your friends to see whether you like it is relatively cheap. The mobile app is free, and only one player needs to buy the game.

Maybe I'm spoiled by having a group of friends for real pen & paper role-playing, but Eon Altar isn't a game I personally need. Uninstalled!

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