[su_highlight background=”#3b88ff” color=”#ffffff”]Platforms:PC | Developer: Black Shell Games| Publisher: Plug in Digital | ESRB: n/a | Controls: Keyboard [/su_highlight]
I have officially experienced my first text based RPG, as well as a few other things. SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition is described as a strategy, turn-based, text dungeon-crawler, ASCII adventure game. Whew!
I’ve seen ASCII as art before, using symbols, numbers, and letters to create images rather than drawing or using digital graphic art. However, I’ve never seen it in this light, with quite this much detail – and in a video game, no less.
All of that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this humorous game. With outrageous dialogue, difficulty ranges, an ever-changing character and story, and a slew of attack and weapon options, SanctuaryRPG gives hours of raging fun.
The base story of the game is about a Matron who is hellbent on taking over the world. Your objective is to find and stop her. That’s pretty much it. Almost everything else is subject to your decisions. Though the bosses are the same no matter what playthrough you undertake, some of the sub-stories alter, while your personal character is ever changing.
My favorite part of the storytelling is whatever crazy thing comes from my character creations. Depending on your initial decision on class (paladin, warrior, archer, etc), your options are altered slightly with race, abilities, and even your looks. All of this clumps together in one hot mess of a background story, and I couldn’t get enough of it. At one point I was the daughter of a mermaid and raised by dead ancestors, while my greatest regret was ‘losing the game’. Throwbacks and references like this are littered throughout SanctuaryRPG, which makes it even better, especially since I haven’t “lost the game” in years.
Getting the whole story is difficult. Sub stories and side adventures are good distractions from the original goal, giving more play time, more levels, and different narratives, but still veering from the main objective.
The mechanics are extremely easy and relaxing, using one key for a command, and the enter button to confirm. There is no clicking about or learning hotkeys. The pace is what you want and how you want it. If there is only one main destination, there will be one option with the command as 1. This pattern continues in succession, with a small handful of options on the side for places like a tavern, the market, and so on.
Events will pop up randomly while traveling, giving you options immediately. Usually it focuses on being cautious with the event, enhancing it, or avoiding it completely. These occasions are generally beneficial, and I always went head on in them.
It pays off to pay attention to detail. Though Sanctuary RPG uses ASCII art, it still incorporates hidden treasures. Finding an ‘X’ or ‘8’ in the design means there is something there, and using it as a command can cause an event or a chest to be found.
Really, graphics aren’t everything. I say that because, to be fair, graphics play very little in this game. That being said, I have never been so impressed by ASCII art. Skeletons, people, horses, and buildings are all depicted extremely well through the mesh of numbers and symbols. The only graphical uncertainties I ever had were the weapons and armor. I’ll chalk it up to my lack of knowledge with weapons to excuse some of the designs, but some of the armor design stretched my imagination too far.
A very nostalgic sound accompanies you throughout the game, playing 80’s gaming music to delve you further into your story. It’s all about putting your imagination to the test.
Being a rogue-like RPG, there is a significant replay value. In fact, that’s the point of roguelike games. I both love and hate this style of play. I am able to learn from mistakes and try new things in a timely manner, but unable to stick with the game for hours on end. However, it is a game I can go back to when all else fails and have as much fun as the first time I experienced it, and that carries a lot of weight.
SanctuaryRPG Black edition is a game I’d recommend to anyone. Beginner gamers can learn the do’s and don’ts quickly, while more experienced players can test out the hard modes, all while knowing that at any moment, the story could change or you’ll start again. Either way, it’s always a good time to find sanctuary in SanctuaryRPG.