Shroud of the Avatar promises to be an exciting and unique RPG with several features that set it apart from the current crowd of games. Currently in development by Portalarium and partially funded by Kickstarter, the game emphasizes character choice and development instead of grinding and looting, and offers single player and multiplayer modes. The first episode, Forsaken Virtues, is slated to be released in late 2014, with 4 other episodes to follow that will enhance and expand the story and content.
One unique feature is the ability to purchase property and create a home. There will be several cities in the game in which a player can obtain land and establish a residence, and the decor and style of each home interior and exterior can be very specific. Wall, floor, and table decorations are all customized and movable. The size of homes ranges from small one-room huts to huge sprawling multi-floor mansions. Upkeep costs on some houses will be required for maintenance, and space can be made for vendors to sell goods out of homes.
Another innovative gameplay mechanic is the naturalistic conversation. Players will type their dialogue rather than choose from a list of predetermined greetings and responses, and NPCs (non-player characters) will interpret these communications and respond accordingly. NPCs will have various levels of intelligence and importance to the plot, and players will have to be somewhat creative with who they talk to and what they say if they are to uncover certain quests. There will be a minimum of hand holding when it comes to quests. The journal won’t denote specifically which events denote quest objectives, and quest locations will not be explicitly laid out on the map. The emphasis on exploration and discovery seems that it will create an organic and natural feel to the world of SOTA, and lead to a greater sense of reward for the player when quests are completed.
The crafting system in the game is deep and very involved. Players will be able to gather and refine raw materials into finished products, including weapons, armor, home decorations, furniture, and even the tools needed for crafting better items. Mining, hunting, foraging, and fishing will all be ways to gather materials, and there are stations specific to each kind of crafting – alchemist table, smelter, blacksmith etc. Just having the raw materials may not always be enough. For instance, an iron sword cannot be produced with smelted ingots alone; the mold to shape the sword is also needed.
Combat and spell casting look to be straightforward on a mechanical level; however, characters will not have specific classes within which to develop these skills. Instead, combat skills will be revealed to the player as they progress through the game, and it is up to the player to decide which ones they want to learn. The more skills a player learns, the lower the chance that they will have newer skills presented to them.
All in all, Shroud of the Avatar looks like it’s shaping up to be a fascinating and innovative RPG. The depth of gameplay and unique features have us eagerly anticipating this 2014 release.