ROLLING IN THE DEEP
PC Gamer|August 2021
Get tactical in authentic D&D roll-player SOLASTA: CROWN OF THE MAGISTER
Rick Lane

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

RELATED STORIES

Simple Craftsman Roots Revived

A “clean but sterile” 1914 kitchen is treated to bungalow-era design.

2 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

MOVING toward

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.

9 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

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.

3 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

Caring for Silverplate

Whether the design is Rococo, Aesthetic, or Art Deco, silverplate is collectible—and needs care.

5 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

MANTELS in a Holiday Mood

Pretty things from nature are always in style.

3 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

Diamonds!

An eternal motif for objects around the house.

1 min read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

A Surprisingly Authentic Bath

The replicated, late-Victorian master bathroom is in an 1892 brick manse in St. Louis, Missouri.

2 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

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.

4 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

A Furnished Bath

This elegant bathroom has fixture panels fabricated from parts of a Victorian armoire.

2 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

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.

10+ mins read
Dolphin Digest
October 2021