Tobold's Blog
Sunday, June 30, 2024
Stolen Realm

A reader recently recommended Stolen Realm to me, and I have been playing that for a while. I have a group of 4 characters: Warrior, priest, ranger, and mage. But Stolen Realm has "limitless builds", so my ranger has summoning spells from both the shadow and nature schools of magic; he summons animals and skeletons to serve as cannon fodder, while sniping from the back. My priest has a druid spell to create a wall of brambles, setting up some crowd control early in the battle, when he isn't busy healing yet. I am playing the campaign mode, and every quest consists of a series of battles and other events, culminating in a boss fight. After having increased the difficulty level a couple of notches beyond the default, I am now at a point where combat is quite interesting, and in some boss fights I only win after having a party member knocked out (but they revive afterwards). I really like the tactical combat system of Stolen Realm.

Having said that, it took me quite some time to get into the game, because the game *around* the tactical combat isn't structured very well. There is a roguelike mode, which is highly annoying, because it disables Stolen Realm's strongest point: You can't freely mix and match skills from various classes when playing roguelike, but get a random selection after gaining a level to choose from. That makes the characters in roguelike a lot less interesting than in campaign mode. Both roguelike and campaign mode let you choose freely with how many characters you want to play, with difficulty scaling in function of number of characters. I ended up trying everything until I settled on 4 players. Fortunately it turns out you can reset the campaign by deleting all characters, so I was able to start a fresh campaign after having determined how many characters I wanted.

The campaign has just a very generic story, which is told on text screens, with no dialogue options or moral dilemmas. There are choices in the game, but they are concentrated on gameplay, like whether you want to rest or do another battle before reaching the boss fight. And while the characters have limitless builds, they don't have any personality or personal story at all. Stolen Realm calls itself a tactical RPG, but the RPG part is frankly minimal. I think that is going to limit the amount of time I'll spend with this game. There is character progression and the joy of random loot, but somehow the exercise feels a bit empty to me. Still, at currently only €11.70 (40% off) during the summer Steam sale, you might want to pick this game up, if you like tactical fantasy RPG combat.

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