You know when a business advertises itself as being the second-best at something, then says, ‘We try harder?’ That’s the position Solasta: Crown of the Magister is in, as the other turn-based RPG based on D&D’s rules currently in Early Access. Developer Tactical Adventures would dearly like its game to emerge from under the shadow of Baldur’s Gate 3, which is why the indie alternative to Larian’s sequel now comes with Dungeon Maker, an in-game editor for crafting dungeons using an interface familiar to longtime PC RPG fans.
The Dungeon Maker lets players easily create their own D&D-based dungeon crawling adventures with a level of detail not seen since the days of Neverwinter Nights.
Most videogame RPGs cite Dungeons & Dragons as their primary inspiration, but few directly adapt its rules. In a world of cooldowns and mana bars, D&D’s dice rolls, bonus actions, spell slots, and long rests can feel clunky and restrictive when applied to a videogame. Even Baldur’s Gate 3 makes many notable changes to make D&D more user-friendly, while indie RPG Solasta wears the 5e ruleset as a badge of honor, warts and all.
This is a game where combat is on a grid, where every d20 rolls on screen, and where jumping away from enemies is a sometimes-treat rather than a regular part of every meal.
While it may forever lurk in the shadow of Baldur’s Gate 3, its crunchy, dice-heavy combat is just what I want in a lean adaptation of the tabletop RPG.
Video game RPGs owe much of their DNA from the classic tabletop RPG. Despite Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition catapulting the tabletop RPG into mainstream popularity, there’s been a stark lack of officially licensed D&D video games in recent years. Indie studio Tactical Adventures hopes to change that with Solasta: Crown of the Magister.
“We’ve been a big fan of tabletop RPGs for 30 years,” says Mathieu Girard, CEO and creative director at Tactical Adventures. “We have a D&D campaign running every week – currently playing Descent Into Avernus. Making a D&D RPG is a passion project for us.”