Out in March, Sanctuary Saga looks very much like a classic 2D RPG from the 90s. It’s not, though: it’s brand new, and it has some interesting ideas of its own to prove it.
From developer Boomer’s Workshop, Sanctuary Saga puts players in control of a group of explorers. Tasked with moving your caravan through the Untamed Wilds, your journey is not going to be straightforward. You’re going to face off against many beastly foes – but, as it turns out, your biggest enemy may well end up being yourself.
Within 15 minutes of playing Sanctuary Saga, our band of explorers had seemingly all fallen out with each other. In other RPGs, the ins-and-outs of your party’s relationship is more than likely left to the realms of the game’s narrative, having little to no impact on gameplay. But here, the argument was ongoing during a fight, leaving our characters unable to attack. And worse, leaving us open to get obliterated by our foes.
You see, in combat, you have two meters: a HP bar, depicting each character’s health, and an ARG bar. This is the ‘argument meter’, and the higher this gets, the more heated your character’s arguments get. If it’s too high, your characters will simply refuse to fight. It’s quite the problem.
And so, maintaining good relationships between your team members is key to success in Sanctuary Saga. You can monitor how well everyone gets along in the Relationship Data menu – and it’s a screen you’ll likely become very familiar with.
But its relationship system isn’t the only thing that Sanctuary Saga utilises to set itself apart. There’s also a roguelite element at play here, in that each area your caravan sets out to explore will be randomised each time you play, meaning you’re never going to find yourself exploring the same area twice. There are other randomised elements, too, such as events that happen, and the order that various NPCs show up.
Sanctuary Saga is still lacking a bit of polish, however. Its early sections are heavy loaded with walls of dialogue that act as a tutorial, which are a little overwhelming – and not the best way to have players absorb everything they need to know while playing. With still a few weeks until its final release, though, we imagine there’s still a little work to be done. Even with a few hiccups, this is an interesting prospect for fans of classic RPGs and turn-based combat. It’s familiar but fresh, and in a well-trodden genre, a little ingenuity is about all we could ask for.
If you want to try out Sanctuary Saga for yourself, a Prelude demo is available to play for free on Steam as part of Next Fest. The full release is coming on 8th March.