Review: Solasta: Crown of the Magister


Posted on April 7, 2024 by Henry

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6.5/10

Summary

Solasta: Crown of the Magister is undoubtedly a love letter to a traditional Dungeons & Dragons tabletop experience. While I’m glad that the game is finally available across all modern platforms, minus the Switch, this game is probably much better enjoyed on PC via Steam than PlayStation 5. The mediocre performance, lack of accessibility features such as increasing text size, and the absence of cross-platform play and local co-op makes the PS5 version a hard recommendation.

Developer – Tactical Adventures

Publisher – Tactical Adventures

Platforms – PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)

Review copy given by publisher

Computer role playing games, or c-rpgs are all the hype right now thanks to the massive success of Baldur’s Gate 3. Tactical Adventure’s Solasta: Crown of the Magister is another one of these games that uses the 5th edition ruleset of Dungeons and Dragons. This turn based tactical role playing game captures the essence of tabletop D&D while providing an engaging digital experience, but lacks the polish and accessibility of some of the other giants of the genre.

All c-rpgs, this one included, have a bit of a rough start if you’re not familiar with D&D or played a similar game in the genre. There are tons of text to read, mechanics to learn, and it can get incredibly overwhelming. Solasta feels less refined than say Divinity: Original Sin or Baldur’s Gate but it does come with an incredible number of tutorials and in-game help. The character classes, abilities, dice rolls, action points, movement, team building, and itemization are all things you need to get used to. The game introduces you to these rules gradually, making it accessible even for newcomers. 

When you start off, there are 13 pre-set characters to choose from but the game recommends you create one from scratch. You have 7 races to pick from, such as a human, orc, or elf, and 12 classes to select from, ranging from barbarian and bard to warlock and wizard. Note that some of these are locked behind DLC and do not come with the base game. You get to customize your party members extensively, giving them different personality traits and backgrounds, much like a traditional D&D game. The game also features a built-in campaign maker, allowing you to create your own scenarios, which is pretty neat. Once you’ve decided which 4 lucky adventurers get to accompany you on your journey, you can finally begin the game.

The narrative isn’t really the strong suit of Solasta, as it simply follows any basic high fantasy story. The world here has been thrust into a dark age after the occurrence of an apocalyptic event. You and your team of 4 heroes are recruited as deputies of the Council to go into the badlands to retrieve ancient artifacts but in doing so, an unspeakable evil has arisen too. Each of your party members will have dialogue checks and choices to make but the story as a whole is quite standard and generic.

Combat in Solasta is tactical and turn-based. Turn order is determined by each character’s initiative. Each turn a character can either choose to move, take actions such as attack, or dash, all on a grid-styled map. Dashing doubles your character’s movement for that turn but disables you from attacking. Different classes yield different attacks, some melee, some ranged, along with unique skills per character. I won’t go into too much detail but there’s also extra mechanics such as dodging and opportunity attack, which grants you or an enemy an extra attack if you move within their range of motion. 

Gameplay also takes inspiration from games like X-COM where you must use the terrain and environment around you to take cover. Like traditional D&D, many actions require the roll of a dice (d20 to be specific), and knowing the mechanics of the game can give you big advantages. There’s an impressive degree of verticality when it comes to environments. For example, starting off from high ground grants you an advantage, or you can push your foes down a hole! Other mechanics that I won’t dive deep into include a robust crafting system that can garner your team with better weapons and spells. This can get quite confusing and I recommend you look up a guide online. I could go on for ages talking about the rest of the stuff present in this game, but this review is mostly focused on the PS5 port of this already 4 year old title.

Solasta: Crown of the Magister released back in Early Access on Steam back in 2020, and later launched in 1.0 in 2021. It was ported to Xbox consoles in 2022 and is now finally on Playstation 5 in 2024. Note that there is no PlayStation 4 version of the game. The Lightbringer edition comes with all previously released downloadable content, including Primal Calling, Lost Valley, Inner Strength, Palace of Ice, and the Supporter Pack. This definitive edition of the game comes in at $59.99 whereas the base game costs just $29.99. Just the vanilla game alone should run you 30-40 hours, so with everything combined, you can easily expect over 100 hours worth of content. What’s nice is that only the host of a game needs to own the DLC in order for everyone to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, Solasta is not very spectacular on the technical performance side of things. For starters, it doesn’t look visually impressive for a game being re-released in 2024. The game clocks in at 26.79 GB on PlayStation 5 and load times take upwards of 20 seconds from a fresh launch. There are no graphical or performance modes to toggle, and the game struggles to maintain a consistent 60 frames per second during gameplay, with frames generally hovering around the low 50s. That being said, it isn’t a big deal considering this is a turn based c-rpg as opposed to an action heavy real time combat experience. I wasn’t able to test the multiplayer co-op latency as the servers are pretty much dead, with no public games hosted. There is also no cross play between platforms and no local co-op, which is a huge missed opportunity.

Accessibility options are extremely limited as well, with only basic audio and graphical settings and subtitle toggles. Controller mappings are provided but you cannot rebind controls. The major gripe I have is with the lack of an option to change text size as everything on the screen is miniscule and with a game as lore and mechanic heavy like Solasta is, it is incredibly frustrating and hard to read all the in-game text. The actual tutorials are quite in depth and helpful, and it’s a shame that it’s so hard to read them. Solasta does come in 5 difficulty levels: Story, Explorer, Authentic, Scavenger, and Cataclysm that can be changed at any time. There’s also an extra Iron Man mode that deletes your previous saves if your entire party is defeated.

Solasta: Crown of the Magister is undoubtedly a love letter to a traditional Dungeons & Dragons tabletop experience. While I’m glad that the game is finally available across all modern platforms, minus the Switch, this game is probably much better enjoyed on PC via Steam than PlayStation 5. The mediocre performance, lack of accessibility features such as increasing text size, and the absence of cross-platform play and local co-op makes the PS5 version a hard recommendation. Nonetheless, there is a content-packed world for you to explore and a worthy game to check out if you’re looking for something to play after Baldur’s Gate 3.

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