Solasta: Crown of the Magister - Stripped
Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a tactical, turn-based RPG based on the D&D 5e ruleset and released by Tactical Adventures. The game was released fully on Steam on May 27th 2021. Through its time in early access and in the beginning stages of its launch, Solasta received mixed reviews mostly due to the bugs that kept people from really experiencing the game. As of today, the game is well received and boasts a “Mostly Positive” score on steam as well as a 7.5 user score on Metacritic.
I played through Solasta’s main campaign for roughly 50 hours. Experienced the highs, and the lows and will tell you all about them in this edition of Stripped.
Music and Sound
Solasta starts high with music and sound. The music score is excellent in this game. All the pieces fit with a fantasy adventure. In cities and safe places the music is calm and almost joyful. In combat the music turns suspenseful and fast, urging the battle onward. When out exploring but not in combat the music turns inquisitive, almost goading the player further. I never once had something bad to say about the music, TA nailed it here.
Sounds for the most part are excellent as well. The sounds for weapons fit each one. Greatweapons feel weighty, arrows and bows sound quick and stabby, swords sound like they’re slicing. Spell effects are executed correctly, fire spells sound like fire, magic missile sounds mystical, and cone of cold sounds like a blizzard. The realization of all these classic D&D spells is done correctly, and a great part of that is strong sound.
Unfortunately there is a con when it comes to sound. Occasionally the game will bug-out and your attacks that successfully hit will play “miss” sound. On screen you will see your dice rolls as a hit, and the sound will play as if you missed. It’s not a huge bug and it usually goes away after that encounter is finished but it can be frustrating.
Overall the music and sound are a strong positive for Solasta.
Graphics and Visuals
There isn’t anything to sing home about in Solasta visually. The game isn’t stunning, and there isn’t anything that will make your draw drop. The game was made by a small studio and we have to temper our expectations. For the team that made it, the game looks pretty good. It’s certainly acceptable.
The best parts of the game visually are the terrain and the spell effects. The spell effects are exactly what you want to see for D&D visually represented. From summoning elementals, to creating a wall of fire, to the basic magic missile, I was pleased with every spell effect in the game. When you finally get your wizard to third level and see a fireball go off, it feels real damn good.
The terrain and scenery looks good and the devs had a strong showing of creating interesting landscapes. Dark castle of undead to a volcano infested with orcs, the scenery looks good and matches the vibe they were going for.
The worst visuals are character models in cutscene. While walking around the overworld it’s not a problem. In cutscenes the characters sway oddly, have awful talking animations, and somehow end up looking like rendered clay. At the very start of the game there are a large amount of cutscenes, and not much real gameplay. This can be a large turn-off, but I urge you to push past the beginning. While the cutscenes never get better visually they do get split by larger amounts of gameplay that make up for it.
Combat and Gameplay
Combat in Solasta is the real selling point. The game is essentially a D&D 5e campaign brought to your computer screen and the combat reflects that. Solasta is incredibly faithful to the systems. This can be both amazing as well as incredibly frustrating when you’ve been playing kitchen table D&D and forgot some of the minor systems.
You will discover very quickly that you have a very generous DM at home, or at least I did. Darkvision is incredibly important, resistances are rampant so be aware of that if you decide to pick a physical damage party.
There will be times you feel like you’re playing XCOM with how punishing the dice rolls can feel. You will roll Nat 1s more than you feel is statistically possible. And while the lows can feel dreadful, and some encounters you’ll want to tear your hair out, there are times where the combat is just beautiful and is incredibly rewarding.
There will be times you hit a Nat 20 fireball and destroy an entire encounter before they even realize you’re there. The combat is D&D, if you love D&D you’ll love playing this.
The other aspects of gameplay include traversing the world and managing your characters. The world gets more interesting the more you play. Initially the first city and dungeon you arrive in is quite boring but it ramps up quickly and I found it to be a lot more immersive. The travel system can be a bit of a chore in itself though. The process is fairly slow to get from one place to another and even while going “slow” is the safe option for traveling, you are almost guaranteed to get into an encounter.
Maneuvering the world you will find puzzles, hidden chests, and other little knick knacks. There wasn’t a puzzle I found that I felt was too hard and had to look up. The game is very straightforward and doesn’t require a whole lot of thinking.
Without spoiling it, the story starts off boring, gets interesting in the middle, and then falls flat at the end. You aren’t going to be playing Solasta for an engaging narrative because there really isn’t one. I’ve seen mixed reviews on the story from other sources; some like it, some don’t, and I’m in the “don't” category. But like I said before, you aren’t playing this game for the story.
Dialogue in Solasta is atrocious. I’m not sure if it’s terrible writing, editing, or voice acting, but each time my characters come on screen to voice their opinions or engage with NPCs I cringe a little. Sometimes the dialogue is just so bad I start laughing. Like the story, you aren’t playing Solasta for the dialogue.
Overall, Solasta is a fun game. I enjoyed most of my experience with it. While the story leaves something to be wanting, and the character dialogue is awful, the gameplay and combat more than makes up for it. This is a small studio that released a very ambitious project and I applaud them. Because while not everything is good, they managed to make one of the most important parts great. I applaud Tactical Adventures and look forward to their next release.
Buck Naked Gaming gives Solasta: Crown of the Magister a 7/10