Solasta: Crown of the Magister
Genre/Mechanisms: 3rd person Tactical RPG
Publisher and Developer: Tactical Adventures
Platform(s): Mac/PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Player(s): 1, or online co-op 2-4
Publisher Age Recommendation/Rating:
Price: $39.99 or Included with Game Pass
D&D, the video game!
Tactical Adventures (TA) clearly loves Dungeons and Dragons, and they’re making a strong case for giving it a shot in video game form. Recently released onto Xbox One and Series X/S, Solasta: Crown of the Magister, is a delightful mashup of roll20 and a well-designed campaign module.
The meat and potatoes of the game is combat, and TA does a nice job of presenting your options in a manageable, albeit busy way. The screen can feel crowded with many pieces of information, but you can faily easily adapt to learn what tools you’ll need.
If you’ve played D&D on tabletop, having all the options literally listed in front of you means that you can play a much more crunchy or active game – preparing actions, dodge or disengage, using an item. You’ll never forget what options you have. It’s all based in the 5th edition or 5e, so if you know that, you’ll have a big leg up.
The downside of a video game version of D&D is simply that everything needs to be pre-programmed – the story, the mechanics, the number of ways you can solve a problem. In the tabletop version, if there’s a chest in a locked jail cell, the sky is the limit on how you can get in there and loot that thing (or get eaten by a mimic). In the game, you must figure out what ways the programmers thought you’d think of. It’s a little like taking a book and making it into a movie. With a book, you can imagine someone looking any which way, but in a movie, you have an actor and the makeup they wear. Not bad, just that a finite number of choices get made on your behalf.
On the plus side of this, you always have the options in front of you! This means even a newcomer to D&D, can play as crunchy and detailed as they want, because you have your friend the helpful menu, ever present, holding a platter of options to remind you to prepare an action, or stealth now, or use an item.
Continuing in the realm of TA making the complex, more simple, holding both bumper buttons will highlight anything on screen that can be interacted with – this will prove an exceedingly good UI decision. Also, if you don’t feel like looting every corner of every map, there’s a group of scavengers that will go in after you and (for a cut of the spoils) deliver anything you missed. Solasta is invested in making sure you get your money’s worth from this game.
Character creation is full featured, for a non-AAA release. There’s lots of class options and a generous handful of cosmetic customizations (and a surprisingly sparse amount of voice choices). Experienced players will recognize the race options, but some of the more interesting races and classes are locked behind DLC, including warlocks, bards, monks and Dragonborn
The story is layered and involved. The titular crown makes its appearance early in the story, as a seemingly mundane item, but just like in a live game, what seems like a small occurrence can turn out to be very important later.
If you have any love for D&D, you’ll find a lot to love about Solasta: Crown of the Magister and it is certainly worth playing.
Pros: You don’t need to wrangle schedules of 3-5 of your friends to play D&D for the next few weeks
Cons: You’ll need glasses to read the large amount of text and details on the screen.