Skilltree Saga is certainly a game that played with my heart. Whenever I hear the word “Rogue” my heart skips a beat, and right on the Steam page it advertises itself as such. If done right, it could be an extremely immersive experience. There isn’t a thing in the world I love more than dwarves and magic. I’ve sung the virtues of scraping stats on many occasions. Those new pants aren’t just shiny, they’re soaked in endorphins. It’s not as gross as it sounds. Well, it is. But at least it feels good. Erm, anyway… Skilltree Saga capitalizes on this mechanic relatively well. Unfortunately, this alone was not enough to hold me for an extended period. While some people may enjoy the grind, I found progress extremely arduous. There is much to praise, but also quite a bit of honest criticism. Let’s check out Skilltree Saga.
The soundtrack in the game has an extremely massive feel to it. I found the sound effects are also quite good, if not a bit repetitive. Repetition is a recurring theme in this game. I’ll say it again. Repetition is a recurring theme in this game. The background and animations during combat are nice, but unfortunately there is no exploration. Each floor only contains one monster, and you don’t have to look for him. I feel the three character models are nicely rendered, however none of the armor you equip will change their appearance. What you see is what you get. Meanwhile, the enemy models vary widely. The wolves and hornets look nice, while the elementals look almost like a placeholder model. It clashes pretty hard, and breaks the aesthetic in my book. The story is quite serious, revolving around The Dark Eye board games, so being attacked by a bug-eyed golem or a teddy bear doesn’t do it any favors.
The combat in the game is round-based. You can set up to six skills which will be used during the combat round. Once the round starts, it will take six turns before you’re able to drink a potion or flee. This is quite confusing in the tutorial, as you only have one skill and generally only make it to the second or third turn. During the tutorial I was under the impression that you weren’t able to do anything in combat except for start the fight. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes in that I actually started seeing the round combat screen. This breaks the flow of the game terribly and requires some looking into, as I would not have spent 45 minutes to figure this out if I weren’t writing a review. Diamonds are used instead of gold to buy potions, to keep you from going too far too fast, but in a game where progress feels this slow a little extra speed would be a welcome addition.
Skilltree Saga needs a bit of help before I’d encourage people to drop $10 on it. The death animations don’t always execute. UI doesn’t seem thought out, as you can get to your inventory from the shop menu but getting back to the shop screen requires closing out to the main menu. The grind is quite lengthy, and progress seems based more on levels than on gear. Some enemies have attack patterns that can be countered with skills, which seems engaging until you have them all memorized. The spiders in the jungle act just like the reskinned spiders in the cave. There are multiple ways to replay through the game though, changing your race or picking different spells. If you enjoy a casual grind I’d recommend you catch it on sale.
Summary: Casual RPG featuring a round-based combat system and a tremendous soundtrack.
Final Score: 5/10 for sound and replayability.
Skilltree Saga was released on Steam Dec 4th, 2014.
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