Whatever else Solasta may be, you can’t fault its authenticity. Armour classes, spells, wincing at a bad dice-roll, it all brings back fond memories of BioWare’s early games. The Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules form the backbone of this RPG, filled with giant dungeons and tactical combat. It’s a decent first effort from the small French studio, albeit one that suffers from clumsy, derivative storytelling.
That story sees you control four adventurers recruited as Deputies of the Council, an organisation representing various factions across the realm of Solasta. Initially dispatched to investigate a beleaguered border fort on the frontier of the Badlands (think Mordor, but in the west rather the east), you eventually stumble upon an ancient artefact known as the Crown of the Magister. But the Crown is incomplete, missing several magical jewels that can make it powerful enough to open rifts between worlds. No prizes for guessing what your party will be doing for the next 40 hours.
BACK TO SCHOOL
I’ll get to the story’s issues later, but first I want to focus on what Solasta does best – making strict D&D rules accessible. As someone who found Baldur’s Gate rather intimidating, I credit Solasta for its teaching skill. The first few hours of Crown of the Magister act as a soft tutorial that slickly introduces you to the Fifth Edition rules, from longstanding mechanics like spell-selection and the nuances of resting, to 5e-specific rules such as advantage and disadvantage rolls. Whether exploring or in combat, I always knew what was happening and why it happened that way.
What helps is Solasta structures its ruleset in familiar ways. Combat, for example, borrows from Firaxis’ XCOM, both in its representation of the battlefield, and in certain mechanics. By default, characters can move and take one action, or ‘dash’, spending their action to move further. Solasta also features its own equivalent of overwatch, where you can schedule an action to trigger when an enemy moves into range. This is particularly useful for ensuring melee characters don’t waste their actions.
Combat is where you’ll spend most of your time in Solasta
Combat is where you’ll spend most of your time in Solasta, and unsurprisingly it’s where the game is most robust. While the stringent D&D ruleset means you shouldn’t expect the wild creativity of other recents CRPGs such as Divinity: Original Sin II, Solasta’s fights are nonetheless both challenging and satisfying. You’ll grin when your fighter’s sword crunches into an orc’s face, wince when that orc’s axe whooshes through the air, missing your wizard by a hair’s breadth. Spells are colourful, ranging from explosive elemental incantations like Fireball and Lightning Bolt, to amusing hexes like Hideous Laughter, which cripples your enemy’s diaphragm more effectively than an episode of Taskmaster.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Killing time rather than targets in HITMAN
AXIOM VERGE 2 is less Metroid, more ’vania
KING’S BOUNTY II does both tactics and RPG, but neither very well
ALIENS: FIRETEAM ELITE isn’t the perfect organism, but it’s decent co-op fun.
POST NO BILLS
Having a jolly holiday with parcels in POSTBIRD IN PROVENCE
Tales From The Crypto
Environmentally-friendly power for CRYPTO MINING is becoming a big issue
12 MINUTES squanders its time loop on dull repetition and the year’s worst twist ending.
Full Steam Ahead
Hands-on with the STEAM DECK, Valve’s attempt to make your Steam library portable.
Tie Fighter: Total Conversion
A brilliant port of the classic dogfighting sim.
East Moves West In Total War: Warhammer II Part 1
Can stubborn dwarfs colonise the far side of the world?
Simple Craftsman Roots Revived
A “clean but sterile” 1914 kitchen is treated to bungalow-era design.
Changing energy markets and evolving technology make it possible to heat, cool, and ventilate homes of any age with (mostly) clean, all-electric power—and less of it. Heating home water, formerly an energy hog, is turning into an energy sipper, too.
The Rescue of Portland's FIREHOUSE 17
IN WHAT BECAME THE PROJECT OF A LIFETIME, THE REHABILITATION OF A 1912 FIREHOUSE IS ADAPTIVE REUSE WITH HEART AND SOUL. DECOMMISSIONED IN 1968, ALLOWED TO DETERIORATE AND LATER REMODELED, THE OLD FIREHOUSE HAD BEEN BUILT DURING THE DAYS OF HORSE-DRAWN ENGINES. THE PROJECT WAS SPEARHEADED BY RESTORAT ION CONSULTANT KARLA PEARLSTEIN, IN PORTLAND, OREGON. SHE NOW CALLS THE FIREHOUSE HOME.
Caring for Silverplate
Whether the design is Rococo, Aesthetic, or Art Deco, silverplate is collectible—and needs care.
MANTELS in a Holiday Mood
Pretty things from nature are always in style.
An eternal motif for objects around the house.
A Surprisingly Authentic Bath
The replicated, late-Victorian master bathroom is in an 1892 brick manse in St. Louis, Missouri.
A HOME FULL OF CHARACTER
Smaller homes like this 1920s Dutch Colonial so often get overlooked as worthy of restoration. Owners don’t think they’re special . . . or they add on or remodel until the original is unrecognizable. This owner saw the potential.
A Furnished Bath
This elegant bathroom has fixture panels fabricated from parts of a Victorian armoire.
Q&A with Miami Dolphins Legend Richmond Webb
I was lucky enough to interview the legend, Richmond Webb. For those Dolphins fans who live under a rock, Webb is one of the greatest Miami Dolphins players ever and their greatest left tackle of all time.