Solasta: Crown of the Magister – Lost Valley is the second expansion to the 2021 base game developed by Tactical Adventures. Solasta is an isometric turn-based tactical RPG using the SRD 5.1 ruleset. I have never played a tabletop D&D game, however in talking to friends that do, Solasta seems to be the closest game they’ve seen that replicates the tabletop experience. Lost Valley, releasing April 14, 2022 on Steam, takes the Solasta world beyond its initial linear campaign into a new open world experience, and one you can explore using your own initiative or for the first time playing co-op with up to four friends.
The Lost Valley DLC is a brand-new level 1 to 12 campaign that will take your party into the lands of the Dominion. This remote lost valley, long forgotten by all, is ruled with an iron fist by the tyrant Orenetis, but the arrival of your adventurers will light a fuse under this political powder keg. The Lost Valley DLC presents the player a replayable nonlinear story, as you are the one deciding which faction to side with to escape the Valley through recruiting temporary companions.
After choosing your party members, either from preset classes like I did, or if you’re so inclined you can create all four party members from scratch. If you haven’t played the base Solasta: Crown of the Magister, the first mission is well done where, after choosing your party members, it gives you some backstory to each character through a tutorial mission that teaches you how to use their unique skills. The voice acting of the characters is decent enough to engage you, though the character animations are something to be desired.
Once you start levelling up your characters, you will see some of the nine new subclasses added with the Lost Valley DLC.
- The Commander, Fighters who can bolster their allies both offensively and defensively in the middle of combat.
- The Hoodlum, Rogues who rely on intimidation and brute force to get what they want.
- The Oath of Judgment, held by Paladins who seek to purge corruption and deliver justice wherever they go.
- The Mischief Domain, granted to Clerics of Misaye who are always seem blessed with good luck.
- The Court Mage, elite Wizards who are masters at protecting others with their arcane powers.
- The Swift Blade, silent and deadly Rangers whose purpose is to assassinate high priority targets.
- The Haunted Soul, Sorcerers with symbiotic relationships to malevolent spirits, granting them horrifying magic.
- The Path of Claw (Primal Calling DLC required), Barbarians with powerful dragon-like abilities.
- The Circle of Balance (Primal Calling DLC required), Druids who are adept at both granting life and taking it away.
I love that everything you do has a visible dice roll. As soon as you enter combat your party and the enemy mobs all roll for initiative to set the order of combat. When conversing with someone, all party members are given an option to respond which makes you care about all members of your party, not just your main character. Any character that has initiative, perception or similar conversational skills will roll when giving a response which may reveal more information for a quest.
The turn-based tactical combat is the highlight for me. I’ve played plenty of turn-based combat games the past few years, but this one seems to be the most engaging for me. Some characters can use spells and cantrips, and it’s how I imagine a tabletop D&D campaign would play out. Monsters will use height and cover advantages just like I would, so you had to make sure your characters were aware of their angles of attack. There are block and counter skills that some classes have, and the enemy is just as susceptible to random dice rolls not going their way, just as I was.
There is plenty of loot to find in each of the open world environments to explore, with secret to find if you’re willing to look for them. I was impressed that some athletic characters like rogues could leap across wider distances, and then able to push over a tree or a boulder so the rest of the party could jump across to them. I found many additional side quests this way that I would have missed in other games. Inventory management is well done, and while I played encumbered a lot, it wasn’t as debilitating as other games, just reducing your maximum movement potential, and even then, you could hand items over to other characters between fights.
The factions you meet can give you advantages if you choose to side with them, and some will give you temporary companions to help you on your journey. Despite the additional help, I often got myself into too much trouble by not being cautious when approaching new shrouds of maps yet to explore. When you first meet a monster, you don’t know anything about their stats. As you start to do damage, you get a sense of how hard the monster will be, but you have no idea of their armour class or other skills and stats. Once defeated though, you will learn some of their statistics so the next fight will become easier to manage.
The level of detail in the game was superb, but in some dense areas of the forest, the frame rate dipped quite low. In these instances, I would have to zoom in quite close to the party and get through those sections until the frames stabilised. The ability to move and zoom the camera was overall good, but occasionally I fought with the camera in some combat situations. It wasn’t too often to be an annoyance but worth mentioning.
For those that are right into D&D, Solasta: Crown of the Magister features a dungeon maker where DM’s can create their own campaigns, and with the Lost Valley DLC adding co-op, I can see this being a feature used a lot amongst friends. Lost Valley adds a new quest system, new dialog system and new custom loot tables for DM’s to really enhance their campaigns. The biggest challenge will be getting the game’s name out there, which is the hope of reviews like this to raise awareness of such a great engaging RPG.
Overall, Solasta Lost Valley is the expansion that was needed to get friends playing together in this outstanding turn-based tactical RPG with more open-world elements. I really enjoyed my time playing the base game and this latest expansion. It was fun to explore every corner of each zone trying to find hidden loot at side quests, and the fast travel system worked well despite the threat of random combat encounters.
This review utilised a key provided by Gametomb.gg and Solasta: Crown of the Magister – Lost Valley DLC is out now on Steam.