Overshadowed by the release of Baldur’s Gate 3, Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a hidden gem.
Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) licensed game from the French indie gaming company Tactical Adventures.
I came across it during a recent Steam Event which concentrated on game demos. I’m a big fan of demos so I tried a bunch of them, but Solasta is the only one that piqued my interest, so I decided to grab it now that it’s in Early Access. I wouldn’t normally buy an Early Access game but I appreciated having the opportunity to play the demo, so I gave them a free pass there.
In one way, you could say it’s your typical D&D 4-person party fantasy game. That’s a bit deconstructionist though – after all, the same could be said of many D&D video games.
I can imagine that certain people might ungenerously describe the game as bland. That’s one word you could use to describe it, sure.
However, I think the word ‘solid’ or perhaps the phrase ‘An excellent translation of D&D-to-computer’ might be more fitting.
Let’s start a game, shall we?
Solasta: Crown of the Magister – Making a team
For our first character we’ll make a Dwarf Ranger.
First, we need to pick our ancestry. Much like Baldur’s Gate 3, Gnomes and Half-Orcs are curiously absent:
Next, we choose our class. I’m a bit sad that Bards aren’t available, but at least Rogues have a Perform skill:
Now it’s time to choose a background and an alignment. I choose Low-life and Chaotic Neutral because that’s what I am in real life:
You can choose between rolling dice for your ability scores (you can choose which die goes into which ability):
or you can use a point-based system to change your ability scores (as seen in many other D&D videogames):
You then choose your proficiencies:
Finally, you get to decide on a physical appearance and a name:
Do that 3 more times, then you’ll have enough for a full team:
Now you can start the campaign. Investigation and combat await you!
Solasta: A unique starting experience
The way this game starts is similar to the idea of putting pizza toppings in a toasted sandwich: A great idea that’s incredibly obvious, but only after it’s already been brought to your attention.
It’s quite simple: The four party members meet at an inn and begin swapping stories.
Each individual story a character tells is portrayed via gameplay, and serves as a tutorial for both that class and the game in general. This is a fantastic way to start a game, because it not only allows you to understand the game/class mechanics in a small area, it’s also an immersive way to begin a role-playing experience.
The user interface is fairly simple, but that’s a plus: It makes learning the game a lot easier, because it makes the experience more intuitive.
I’ve had a fantastic time just making new characters, and the campaign itself seems a lot more forgiving and friendly than Baldur’s Gate 3. Personally, I prefer Solasta, based on my limited playtime with the two games. If you’re interested, Solasta can be found here on Steam.
Believe me when I say that the loading screens are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen – you can see one just below, at the next section heading.
While it could be argued that the in-game graphics are fairly standard, they also have a certain charm to them. Solasta reminds me of the criminally under-rated Neverwinter Nights series (leaning more toward the sequel) crossed with the X-COM series (mainly due to the inclusion of cover mechanics).
Speaking of Solasta being compared to other games…
Solasta: A Steam post from the Developers
One thing that really impressed me about the developers of Solasta is the way they’ve handled the inevitable comparisons to Baldur’s Gate 3 and other games. I’ll let them have the last words of the article, via a pinned post in the Steam Forums for Solasta:
Regarding Baldur’s Gate 3, Pathfinder and other RPGs
Hello there folks,
We’re very happy that so many of you are enjoying Solasta’s Early Access – and if you’re not, it’s fine too! To each their own.
That being said, we’d like to address the elephant in the room – namely, Baldur’s Gate 3 and other RPGs. It is absolutely fine to compare games, discuss about the differences, share your likes and dislikes – for instance, it is no secret that the characters in BG3 are absolutely gorgeous when you compare them to ours.
And you know what? That’s 100% okay to talk about! What is NOT okay is spitting on people’s hard work – whether it is ours, or Larian’s, or any other studios’.
We don’t want to be the fun police. In fact, some people might like us to be a little harsher on the moderation side – but we’re not here for that. However, we WILL be perma-banning people who spew ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ on games or dev teams. You have been warned.
– OK: I hate the UI, it looks atrocious. Please change it.
– NOT OK: Solasta / Baldur’s Gate 3 / P:KM is pure garbage anyway, play [game name] instead.
– OK: I prefer gameplay in Solasta / Baldur’s Gate 3 story is much better
– NOT OK: Larian doesn’t know how to make games