Preview – Zoria: Age of Shattering [Demo] PC
After seeing success on Kickstarter back in October of last year (around $40,000 USD of success!), Zoria is finally almost ready to roll out into Early Access this month, which gives the team about five more months to polish and refine everything before the expected final release in September. And what better way than with their backers and fanbase at their side providing useful feedback and helping track down those pesky bugs. In fact, it’s exactly what I hoped would be the next step for the title when playing the demo and running into some awkwardness myself with regards to the design, abilities, and lack of quality of life features.
Zoria: Age of Shattering is a retro-feeling tactical RPG where the player controls a classic band of adventurers, each with their own unique abilities and strengths both in and out of combat. Lead your team with the knight, who can shield allies; follow up with some damage at range with a mystic or hunter perhaps; and, of course, make sure you have some healing with a cleric. Journey across the land helping the less-fortunate, solving mystical mysteries, and fighting back against tyrannical nations. Hell, it sounds almost like a solo Dungeons & Dragons sort of thing when you put it that way. Actually, considering the strategic turn-based combat and dungeon-crawlery style it very much feels like it, too! Without all the craziness that ensues from lunatic Player Characters and cute goblin buddies named Tony though, sadly.
However, it isn’t without problems in its current state. The loading times when entering new locations can often feel absurd, especially due to how much time is already lost simply running around the large overworld to pursue and hand in quests. The many different abilities each class has end up feeling too similar, making the already confusing combat a bit of a drudge. (It’s confusing because you have to manage action points, mana, and ‘focus’, all of which are systems that compete to limit you). There are also permanent status effects I couldn’t figure out how to remove, rendering the rest mechanic somehow worse that it initially seems. Fortunately, these all seem like issues that may only be present because what I played was a demo. Less going on throughout the world, exaggerated load times, missing or restricted mechanics, and a scarcity of character powers are problems that have no doubt already been eliminated from the upcoming open EA release.
Still, these obstacles did negatively affect my time with the game and so I can’t quite recommend it from my experience. What I can say is that if this seems like something you’d be interested in – meaning the DnD-ish mechanics within a classical fantasy setting punctuated with challenging and deliberate battles – (and you’ve already played Divinity: Original Sin 2 to death), this might be exactly what you’re looking for. And the best part is that you may even be able to help shape its future over the coming months if you get in soon. Personally I’m excited to see what the final product will look like when it does drop but until then I think I’ll continue to watch from the outside.